It’s the flight of the lifetime.
Reporters on Monday were given a bird’s eye view of the inside and outside of one of the grand old girls of the sky, the B-25 Mitchell bomber, a flying museum that goes by the name of Maid in the Shade.
The veteran Second World War aircraft did a couple of passes over Peach City around 11:30 a.m. before dropping into the Penticton Regional Airport for a week-long stay.
This is the third time one of the Arizona-based Commemorative Air Force birds have landed at Penticton on a visit organized by the Penticton Flying Club as part of its community outreach program.
“It’s just awesome,” said a breathless Tim Singer, vice president of the flying club and one of the passengers on Monday’s inaugural flight out of Penticton after climbing out of the aircraft. “It’s noisy but I expected that but it’s pretty high performance with no bombs it. It can climb and just sweep around the hill and go down.
“It’s something else for sure, you can feel it and smell it and just imagine what it must have been like.”
One of the crew members this time around is a little out of the ordinary, being a Canadian and a female.
Shirley Sukkel is from Victoria, where the plane arrived from Monday on its previous week’s visit and where she first rode in the front gun turret three years ago in her hometown.
“I took it for a ride went up in the nose and paid the big dollars and was so pumped I said how do I get on board? How do I do this?” said Sukkel who has been certified for two years and works as a loadmaster and ride co-ordinator. “It’s the thrill of being able to get on board and spend two weeks live eating and breathing and eating a vintage aircraft like this it’s really a dream come true.
“But it’s a lot of work too, a lot of people think you’re going on vacation but it’s long, hot days but you get such a joy and pride out of watching what people bring here and the emotion, the passion.”
Load specialist Mike Mueller who hails from Washington State described his and the work of other volunteers as a “labour of love.”
“It’s a lot of fun, especially when you have a good crew like we do,” he said. “Part of what we want to do here is bring the context and the history to young adults and the children to find out what their forefathers did because even though it was 70 years in the past it was still a seminal event in the entire world, 75 million people died in World War Two.”
The warbird is at the airport until July 2 and is available for tours throughout that time and paid flights are still available which will be on the upcoming weekend.