The South Dakota Air & Space Museum will launch the “Raid Across South Dakota,” an event designed to bring awareness to the famous “Doolittle Raid” of April 18, 1942, and the two South Dakotans who participated.
The Raid Across South Dakota will entail flying an authentic World War II bomber — the kind that took part in the historic moment — across the state, making educational stops along the way. Beginning in Sioux Falls on April 16, the bomber will make scheduled stops on April 17 in Mitchell, Pierre, and Rapid City, after which the bomber will fly to Ellsworth AFB and take part in the base’s April 18 celebration of the Raid’s 77th anniversary.
Though the Ellsworth event is closed to the general public, the airport stops will provide residents, especially students, an opportunity learn about the Doolittle Raid, the airplane, and its tie to South Dakota, museum officials note.
In the dark days of post Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt requested a retaliatory attack on mainland Japan. Aviator James Doolittle was selected to lead the mission which consisted of 16 B-25 bombers launched from an aircraft carrier, an unprecedented tactic at the time.
South Dakota natives Henry Potter of Pierre and Don Smith of Oldham took part in the raid. Potter flew with the lead bomber flown by Doolittle. Smith was the pilot of the 15th bomber.
Museum Communications Director, John Mollison explained the significance of the moment: “The Doolittle Raid ranks as one of the most audacious and heroic acts in American history. With two South Dakotans on the raid’s roster, it’s yet another terrific reminder of the crucial and important roles South Dakotans have played in world history.”
The B-25 bomber that will be flying across the state bears the markings of an actual WWII combat veteran, seeing over 130 missions. The bomber is maintained and flown by the Minnesota Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, a group of dedicated aviation enthusiasts that work to keep historic aircraft in the air and accessible to the public.
The scheduled stops will be approximately one hour in each location. Teachers interested in seeing the bomber are encouraged to contact John Mollison at 605-261-6070.
Bankwest will provide a specially prepared Educator’s Kit to teachers and students.
The South Dakota Air & Space Museum is supported by the South Dakota Air & Space Foundation and is located just outside the gate of Ellsworth Air Force Base near Box Elder, S.D.
Raid Across South Dakota Stops
- In Sioux Falls (April 16): Maverick Air Center 4 p.m.-5:30 p.m. (all times approximate);
- In Mitchell (April 17): Wright Brothers Aviation 8 a.m.-9 a.m.;
- In Pierre (April 17): Pierre Regional Airport 10:30 a.m.-11:30 am;
- In Rapid City (April 17): Rapid City L&D Aero Services 1:45 p.m.-3:45 p.m.