The B-25 Mitchell bomber was sitting on an access road, just off of the cross-wind runway, as we arrived at Villeneuve Airport, near St. Albert, Alberta. We could see the flight crew and ground-support crew at work around the WWII veteran, while volunteers from the Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton dealt with the public.
It isn’t often that you see a fully-restored B-25 Mitchell bomber. Volunteers of the Commemorative Air Force in Arizona spent 28 years working on “Maid in the Shade” before she was ready to venture once again into the “wild blue yonder.” This was her first visit to Canada; after several stops in Alberta she would head over to British Columbia, then back to the States.
So what exactly does this have to do with a travel blog? Break open your piggy banks folks, because for a not-so-small fee, you (and seven other people) can go for a twenty-minute flight in “Maid in the Shade.” No, we didn’t opt for a ride. Chris and I spent enough time flying back when we owned our Spezio TuHoler open-cockpit airplane. Luckily, it only cost a few dollars to view the bomber, and a few dollars more to climb inside it.
We were the first people allowed to approach “Maid in the Shade” and while I photographed the outside, Chris climbed into the belly of the beast to photograph the inside. Soon enough, people were swarming all over the B-25. A few hours later, the lucky passengers were helped aboard and the real fun was about to start.
I was standing about fifty feet behind the bomber when the engines fired up, although some people were much closer. Several minutes later, the pilot ran the engines up to full-throttle – the noise was horrendous. Every molecule in my body started to vibrate, and soon they all felt like they were going to explode! Luckily, at this point the pilot backed off on the throttle and finally the B-25 started to taxi off towards the active runway.
It wasn’t long before “Maid in the Shade” took to the air, the noise at that point more like rolling thunder. She passed overhead, on her way to Big Lake in St. Albert. In fact, she kept to a fixed flight-path that took her past our house on each flight for the next three days!
That was back at the beginning of July. It seems very, very quiet around here now. Even my molecules seem restless…