Five historic B-25s will visit the Destin Airport (DTS) in conjunction with the activities for the 71st Doolittle Raiders Anniversary Reunion in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. It is expected to be the last public reunion of the famed crew.
There are only about 32 of these great birds still flying in the world – out of a production run of nearly 10,000 manufactured between 1940 and 1945. General Jimmy Doolittle and his Raiders used these planes for their famous Tokyo Raid in April of 1942, which is considered by historians to be a real turning point for American morale during the Second World War.
The planes will be displayed at the Destin Airport from Wednesday, April 17, through Sunday, April 21, and will be available for flights for the general public. The cost is $425. No advance reservations are needed. There will be rides coordinators at the small white tents near the B-25s.
They will also participate in “Thirty Seconds Over the Emerald Coast,” a fly-by on Friday, April 19, at 6 pm. The B-25s and other historic aircraft will fly over the beaches of Okaloosa Island. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see these historic planes over the very same sands where they flew during the Raiders’ training at Eglin Field in March of 1942, according to organizers. The prime viewing location for this event will be the Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island, where many of the restaurants and shops will be offering specials.
The planes will also fly in formation over the “Parade of Heroes” on Saturday, April 20, at 11 am. This community salute to the military is the first of its kind in the area, organizers note. It will feature veterans and active duty personnel from World War II and subsequent conflicts, with the Doolittle Raiders as grand marshals. They will be followed by their World War II comrades, and veterans from the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, the Gulf Wars, and active duty personnel. Beach Community Bank will distribute American flags to all the parade spectators.
The five planes in attendance at the reunion will be: Panchito, Killer B, Yellow Rose, Georgie’s Gal, and Special Delivery, the only one to carry the famous Doolittle Raiders crest.
“This may be the last large gathering of B-25s in one place because this is the final public Raiders reunion,” said Larry Kelley, from the Delaware Aviation Museum and Panchito pilot. “It’s very expensive to fly them from one location to another, and this may be the last time the public will be able to see more than one or two in the same place.”
The planes will be on display at the Destin Airport with the following schedule:
- Wednesday, April 17 – 9 am to 4:30 pm
- Thursday, April 18 – 9 am to 4 pm
- Friday, April 19 – 11 am to 5 pm
- Saturday, April 20 – 12:30 pm to 5 pm
- Sunday, April 21 – 9: am to 1 pm
The visit of the B-25s is sponsored by the Emerald Coast Tourism Development Department, Cox, and Northwest Florida Regional Airport. Beach Community Bank is the presenting sponsor of the 71st Doolittle Raiders Anniversary Reunion, “The Final Tribute,” and reunion events are organized by the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce, with the support of ResortQuest, Image Printing and Digital Services, Lockheed Martin, and the Northwest Florida Daily News.