Flying in from around the U.S., about two dozen B-25 Mitchell bombers will converge on Urbana, Ohio’s municipal airport, Grimes Field, beginning Saturday, April 14. The largest gathering of B-25s since World War II, the Grimes Gathering of B-25s will lead into the 70th Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Reunion at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force (NMUSAF), near Dayton. For the 68th Reunion in 2010, 17 B-25s gathered at Grimes Field.
The 70th Reunion ceremonies, April 17-20, will commemorate the famed April 18, 1942, bombing raid on Japan by 16 B-25s and their brave crewmen, under the leadership of Lt. Col. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle. The five surviving crewmen of the raid will participate in the reunion, including being the guests of honor at a private breakfast at the Champaign Aviation Museum at Grimes Field.
The Grimes Gathering of B-25s, April 14-16, will allow the public to get a close-up look at the twin-engine medium bombers while they are on static display and meet their crews. Also while in Urbana, the B-25s will fly around the area. Rides will be available for purchase on as many as six of the aircraft.
At 7 a.m. Tuesday, April 17, the B-25s will begin a dramatic departure from Grimes Field, taking off one after the other for the NMUSAF, where they will take part in ceremonies honoring the surviving Doolittle Tokyo Raiders.
“This is a tremendous privilege and honor, for the Urbana area and Grimes Field to play a role in honoring these American heroes,” said Jim White, who is co-chairing the Grimes Gathering of B-25s with Dave Millner. “The Grimes Gathering of B-25s is living history at its best. Seeing these meticulously restored aircraft and hearing the roar of their engines, I believe, brings you closer to appreciating the sacrifice and bravery of the men who put their lives on the line for our freedom.”
Visitors can gain ramp admittance for close-up viewing of the bombers from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 14-16, for a $5 donation, which will help defray costs of the event, including fuel for the bombers. A variety of World War II era military vehicles also will be on display.
Flights will be available for purchase on up to six of the aircraft. Flight reservations can be made from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 14-16 in the Champaign Aviation Museum at Grimes Field. One of the participating B-25s, the Champaign Gal, is part of the permanent collection of the Champaign Aviation Museum.
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