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Rare WWII warplanes fly into Idaho Falls

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IDAHO FALLS – Two of the rarest warbirds from World War II are scheduled to fly into the Idaho Falls Regional Airport this week to show off their history to the public.

Brought here by the Arizona Flying Museum, two of the most iconic warplanes, the B-25 Mitchell ‘Maid in the Shade’ and the B-17 Flying Fortress ‘Sentimental Journey’, will be available for the public to see and take tours of this week.

“The public can experience a living history flight in a fully restored B-17 or B-25 Bomber,” according to the news release.

Flying Fortress

One of only five in the world, the B-17 Flying Fortress is the “leading exhibition warbird in The Flying Legends of Victory Tour conducted by CAF Airbase Arizona, a non-profit flying museum.”

At its prime, the cruise speed was approximately 160-miles per hour, and its maximum altitude was 36,000 feet. Often during wartimes, many crew members were subjected to frostbite inside the plane because of high bombing altitudes in the unheated aircraft.

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The B-17 ‘Sentimental Journey’ that will fly into Idaho Falls on Thursday, June 16. | Photo Courtesy of the Commemorative Air Force.

This B-17 was originally manufactured and delivered to the U.S. Air Force for war service in 1944. It flew missions in the Pacific theater. After the war, it flew for training, testing and air-sea rescue missions. Later it was sold for surplus and used as a firebomber.

In 1978, it was purchased by a Commemorative Air Force (CAF) member and donated to the Arizona unit of the CAF. After being restored, the plane now travels the world spreading knowledge about its history.

Maid in the Shade

The B-25, revered by the Arizona Flying Museum as “one of the best weapons and possibly the most versatile aircraft of WWII”, was also bought by a CAF member and donated to the Arizona unit of the CAF. The plane was restored and is now maintained and operated by all-volunteer crews from the membership of the CAF Arizona Airbase.

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The B-25 Mitchell ‘Maid in the Shade’ at the Idaho Falls Regional Airport on Monday, June 13. | Kaitlyn Hart, East Idaho News.

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The front gunner seats in the B-25. | Kaitlyn Hart, East Idaho News.

The B-25 served during the war with the 319th Bomb Group, 437th Squadron at Serragia Airbase, Corsica. It flew 15 combat missions over Italy and the former Yugoslavia between November and December 1944.

One of the most interesting and plane-specific aspects of the B-25 is the history that lives on its walls.

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Names written on the inside of the bomb bay doros of a rare B-25 war plane. | Kaitlyn Hart, East Idaho News.

Since it was manufactured in the early 1940s, pilots and crew have been signing the inside of the bomb bay doors with their names, mission and the years they served. This includes the pilots and crew from the Doolittle raid in 1942, also known as the Tokyo raid, where the United States conducted an air raid on the Japanese capital of Tokyo and other places on Honshu during WWII.

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These signatures date all the way back to 1941. | Kaitlyn Hart, East Idaho News.

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Signatures on the inside of the bomb bay doors. | Kaitlyn Hart, East Idaho News.

Pilot Carl Randolph, one of the crew members who flew into Idaho Falls on the B-25 on Monday, says that it is by far his favorite plane to fly.

“It’s just so much fun,” says Randolph.

The B-25 Mitchell ‘Maid in the Shade’ made it to Idaho Falls on Monday, but because of high winds, the B-17 Flying Fortress ‘Sentimental Journey’ was delayed in Logan, Utah and is now scheduled to arrive in Idaho Falls on Thursday, June 16, before 9 a.m.

The public will be able to take ground tours from June 16 to 18 for $15 per person, or $30 for a family of four. You can also schedule a ride in one of the old war planes on their website.

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