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History From The Air

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By Joey Martin

Twin Falls, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KSVT-TV ) Air Magic Valley is set to get underway this Friday.

But Monday, the air show got an early start as it welcomed in one of the shows most prized and sought after aircrafts… the World War 2 era B-25 Mitchell Bomber.

"The Mitchell B-25 was in every theater of operation. It was of course US, it was in North Africa... it was in Europe... it was in India and in the Pacific. Everywhere we were, there were B-25's," says Russ Gilmore, pilot of Maid in the Shade.

This particular B-25, which is named "Maid in the Shade," is one of only about 20 aircrafts still flying today that actually saw battle during World War 2.

"It flew combat missions out of Corsica during World War 2 against the Germans... and in Italy, Romania and Yugoslavia. It does have repaired bullet holes in it, so if people want to come on out, we'll show you where they are," Gilmore explains.

For those who aren't history buffs, the B-25 might look just like any other aircraft from that era, but it was the Mitchell that gave the United States the edge and confidence needed to take on whatever was thrown our way.

"Of course it was made very famous by the famous Doolittle raid, put together by Jimmy Doolittle and his troops and airmen. Put 16 B-25's on the hornet... took them as close as they could to Japan... did a bombing run, took them off an aircraft carrier, which had never been done before. Japan thought they were at that time invincible... and we were losing the war up until about April of '42,” Gilmore says.

One special passenger on Monday's flight was 93 year old World War 2 veteran George Haney.

We caught up with him after his flight and asked him what it meant to him to be in one of these birds once again.

"For me to get to ride that at 93... aw, I mean... they let me sit here right behind the pilot. All of the controls and the beautiful country, the whole set up, I wish everybody could have that kind of experience... because America is so great... and freedom doesn't come cheap... just for what this little gal did and for all of the... we lost a lot of people. This wasn't an easy plane to fly. But it got the job done," Haney says.

The Maid in the Shade turned the ripe old age of 70, just last week.

And according to her crew, she will be flying the skies for many more years to come.

At this weekend’s Air Magic Valley airshow, you too can take a ride in this historic aircraft.

To reserve your seat, contact Reeder Flying Service at 733-5920.


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