By Alan Shope, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
Photo Courtesy: KCTV5's Alan Shope
OLATHE, KS (KCTV) -
This weekend marks the 15th year of the Commemorative Air Force, Heart of America Air Expo.
To celebrate this year's show, the CAF brought back one of Kansas City's most famous planes.
Show Me was America's first response to Pearl Harbor. The B-25J Mitchell medium-range bomber led the first American bombing mission over mainland Japan after the December 1941 attack. Its place in American history is legendary.
"It was just the best plane ever built," Ed Russell, a B-25 bombardier in WWII, said.
Today, only a handful of the Kansas City-built B-25s remain. Nearly 7,000 of the workhouse bombers were built at the Kansas City, KS Fairfax plant in the 40s and 50s. They went on to fly thousands of missions over Europe and North Africa in WWll and later in Korea.
"The bombardier was up in the nose so the navigator navigated to the target then went up and took on another position as bombardier," Russell said.
Thursday, the B-25 returned home for this weekend's CAF Air Expo at New Century Airport in Olathe, KS.
"It came along just at the right time, it was very versatile and it would carry a pretty good bomb load," Mike Gadow, who flew a B-25, said.
The B-25 Ghost Squadron was retired in 1958 and most planes were scrapped, but what Show Me meant to Kansas City during WWll will never be forgotten.
"They are a part of history, we use them for education purposes and air shows like this," Tom Wagoner with CAF said of the bombers. "And for the veterans and to educate the young about the past."
Over 20 vintage military planes will be at this weekend's CAF Annual Air Expo. The show is free to the public and runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday at the New Century AirCenter in Olathe.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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