A few weeks ago, the surviving members of the Doolittle Raiders gathered together at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. At the same time, B-25s from all over the country gathered in nearby Urbana, OH before flying to be on display as part of the memorial at the museum. Look for more coverage of the event in the May 2012 issue of AirshowStuff Magazine!
Holy Mitchells, Batman!
In 2007, Thunder Over Michigan featured the ‘Gathering of Mitchells’ and the announcer said something along the lines of “You will NEVER see a gathering like this ever again!” Well…
That same announcer also said that we would never see the Lancaster ever again – except that it seemed to follow us to every show for the rest of the year. If you are one of many people who loves the ominous sound of a growling Mitchell engine, the Doolittle Raider Reunion and B-25 Gathering in Central Ohio was certainly the event for you.
I come from a family that immediately stops what we’re doing and tells everyone around us to shut up at an airshow until the airplane has taken off and is no longer within earshot. When we were driving in to Urbana and were 5 miles from the airport, we loudly exclaimed “MITCHELL!” as one cruised overhead. It’s a good thing we didn’t do this the whole time or we would’ve been kicked out. In fact, it was a rare occassion that you DIDN’T hear the sound of a Mitchell’s engine or see one off in the distance. Later that night, the noise was still buzzing in my head and the air conditioning unit sounded like a B-25.
As soon as we walked in, we were greeted by “Axis Nightmare”, swarmed with a crowd of people. Media had access to the hot-ramp, but not much of it since it was so busy. We met up with a couple people and walked around as several B-25s took off, did fly-bys, and landed. At an ordinary air show, I would be concerned at this point that we were missing good photo opportunities. Not a problem this time.
The View Out The Window
I got to fly in one of the Mitchells for my very first media flight ever. The opportunity to fly in a B-25 is always amazing, but it turned out to be quite a bit more awesome! It was a 5-ship B-25 formation flight with a P-51 escort. I tried not to be the guy who would point and go “OH MY GOD GUYS LOOK OUT THE WINDOW THAT’S SO AWESOME!” but I was pretty much that guy. I was a seven year old on Christmas morning during this flight – but can you blame me? It didn’t even bother me that I was in the #5 plane and had to look at all the Mitchells’ butts.
Part of formation flying is trying to stay with the lead plane (my amazing ability to do this in Flight Sim X is, well, un-flattering). In fact, that’s really the only part! If it’s a two-ship formation, the #2 ship needs to oscillate a bit to stay in formation, not much of a big deal. But when it’s a 5-ship formation, the #5 plane needs to oscillate to to stay in formation with the #4 plane oscillating to stay in formation with the #3 plane oscillating to stay in formation with the #2 plane oscillating to stay in formation with the #1 plane *BREATH*. In other words, our plane was bobbing up and down and all over the place. One of the guys with us had to throw up in a bag. The other had to sit down. Me? Well…
Maybe it was because I was only shooting with a 27-135mm lens, but I didn’t feel very queasy during the flight. That’s not to say it wasn’t a wild ride just trying to walk around the fuselage (the next day my legs were sore from fighting the forces in the back of the plane). I don’t even hold onto the bars when I’m standing on the campus bus because nothing will be as wild as that B-25 flight.
The Only Thing Missing was In the Mood
Seriously, if you’re a fan of warbirds, this event was amazing. No jets, no aerobatics, just B-25s and a couple P-51s. Occasionally a Cessna would take off, but hey, just more prop noise I guess. This isn’t the most eclectic group of planes, but if you stuck around long enough, you would’ve been treated to a nice formation flight of a B-25, P-51, Corsair, P-40, and a real Japanese Zero. We were heading out for dinner at that point but I was able to snag a picture…
- Patrick Barron