The first of two historic World War II bombers that will be flying over Idaho Falls this weekend landed in town Monday.
The B-25 bomber nicknamed “Maid in the Shade” landed at Idaho Falls Regional Airport as part of the “Flying Legends of Victory” tour organized by the Commemorative Air Force. A second plane, a B-17 bomber named “Sentimental Journey” that saw non-combat service, will arrive in town on Saturday.
B-25 bombers were most famous for attacking Japanese bases during the Doolittle Raid in 1942, but “Maid in the Shade” was stationed in Corsica during the war and served on 15 missions over Italy and Yugoslavia.
Flight crew member Mitch Counce pointed out several spots where the B-25 had been hit by bullets or shrapnel during the war. Counce and the other volunteers traveling with the two planes will teach visitors about the history of the two aircraft and take some on flights over the city this weekend.
“Our job is to keep the memory of what these World War II veterans did, especially those who flew, alive because so few of them are still around,” Counce said.
Both the B-17 and B-25 are owned by the Commemorative Air Force and are normally stationed at Airbase Arizona in Mesa, Ariz. The two planes did not often fly together during the war and while the Commemorative Air Force regularly takes its collection of restored airplanes on tours around the country, it was uncommon to have two planes on tour together.
“It’s a very rare opportunity for people to see both planes and be able to walk up close to them and possibly even fly with them,” Commemorative Air Force spokesman Bill Quehrn said.
The planes will also be available for passengers to book flights in during a limited time this weekend. Commemorative Air Force will charge visitors $425 to fly along in the radio room inside the plan and twice as much for a ride in the bomber seats. Rides will be offered between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and can be purchased at flyinglegendstour.com.
The Commemorative Air Force asks that visitors who want to see the planes on the runway or tour inside them on the ground donate $10 per person or $20 per family. The planes will be kept at Idaho Falls Regional Airport, behind the Aero Mark building at 1940 International Way.