50th annual Galesburg Stearman Fly-In features B-25 Mitchell bomber plane from World War II

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GALESBURG, Ill. (WMBD) — 150 planes are flying into Galesburg for the 50th annual Stearman Fly-In.

One new addition in 2021 is a World War II-era B-25 Mitchell bomber plane, supplied by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) from Oshkosh, WI.

Sixteen B-25 Mitchell bomber planes were used in the 1942 Doolittle Raid in response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

“It’s like stepping back in time. We get to share the experience of what it was like for people fighting the war during World War II,” said EAA Pilot Matt Cooper.

Cooper said the opportunity to fly a historic warplane is a privilege.

“Not a lot of pilots get to do this, and I take that as a big honor to be able to do that,” he said.

The plane was commissioned in 1944 for World War II and delivered in early 1945. It was delivered too late to be used in battle, Cooper said, but airshow attendees can book a flight to “experience the sights, the sounds, the smells, the magic of what our veterans in World War II got to experience.”

Aaron Repp, vice president of Experimental Aircraft Association, took a ride on the plane during a preview event for the media.

“I thought it was absolutely amazing. To be able to sit in those different positions that the crew members got to sit in, [it] was magical to sit there and get to see that landscape from that position,” he said.

Repp said the front gunner position under the cockpit is “the best seat in the house.”

“Underneath the cockpit, it gives you almost a full 180-degree canopy experience. You get to see the corn blowing beneath you, and then in the back, get to go into the tail gunner position, experience what those veterans got to see on those days,” Repp said.

Flights on the B-25 Mitchell bomber are available for $360 for EAA members and $400 for non-members.

Beyond the planes, there are multiple activities to partake in and the famous Budweiser Clydesdale horses are there for viewing from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Admission to the event is free. The schedule can be viewed by clicking here.

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