WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (WGGB) — If you like vintage planes the place to be this weekend is the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks.
It’s holding the first ever “Great Aviation Adventure”. The centerpiece is a vintage World War II bomber: the B-25 Mitchell.
It’s like taking a trip back in time. The B-25 Mitchell was a workhorse during the second World War, It’s the only armed combat plane that was in service from the beginning of the war to its end. It was flown by the United States and most of its allies.
It’s most famous mission was the Doolittle raid on April 18, 1942. Sixteen B 25′s, under the command of Lt Col Jame Doolittle, were launched from the aircraft carrier Horhet in a daring raid on five Japanese cities including Tokyo.
Mike Kelly restored this B-25 Mitchell known as Panchito. He says, “It changed the entire war. It changed the Japanese war plan and it was a turning point in World War II, just four months after Pearl Harbor.”
The original Panchito is named after the rooster from Disney’s animated film The Three Caballeros. It was a bomber in the 396th Bomb Squadron, 41st Bomb Group, 7th Air Force stationed in the Central Pacific.
Mike and his crew take Panchito all over the country, not just to tell the story of the B-25 Mitchell, but to increase awareness of disabled veterans.
“There were outreach programs to Nascar, Major League Baseball and all kinds of other events, but nothing at airshows. So we teamed up with them and put together a program and we’ve been doing that now for just a little over 10 years. And it’s not just at airshows. We’ve done flyovers for the Super Bowl, the Indy 500. We just did a flyover for the Preakness just a few weeks ago down in Baltimore,” Mitchell adds.
So that’s the current mission of Panchito, but inside the confines of this fighter plane, there are countless stories of an aircraft that played a big role in the United States and allied forces in winning World War Two.
Panchito is on display Friday and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Great Aviation Adventure 2013. Log on to www.neam.org or call 860-623-3305 for more information.