Grimes Gathering of the B-25s Warbirds at Urbana Airport, Urbana, OH - April 14-15, 2012
Contributed article from: Warbirds and Airshows By David D Jackson
This was the second of two and most likely the last major gathering of B-25s at Urbana, OH to honor The Doolittle's Raiders on the 70th Anniversary of the famous and war changing attack on April 18, 1942. Two years ago in 2010 there was a similar gathering which brought together (17) B-25s for the fly-by at the Air Force Museum. Urbana is the staging area for the aircraft before they all depart for static display and the fly-by at the Air Force Museum. This year the goal was (22) B-25s to make the event. However, due to weather and other issues, as of Sunday only (15) had arrived. However, for the warbird aficionado and enthusiast that was able to get to Urbana on Sunday April 15th, the events and flying were for all intents and purposes a one time experience that will be hard to ever replicate or repeat.
Several things changed at Urbana from 2010 to 2012 that made April 15, 2012 special. First were the days it was held. In 2010 the B-25s arrived and gathered on a Thursday and Friday. This was done so they could fly out on Saturday morning for static display at the Museum on Saturday and then do the actual honorary fly-by on Sunday, April 18, which was the 68th Anniversary. So the arrival and display days at Urbana were on weekdays when many people obviously had to go to work. This year, with April 18th being on a Wednesday, the Urbana event was on the weekend. While Saturday was for the most part a washout, Sunday was the day everything came together to make for a memorable experience. The weather cleared up, was warm and sunny and although windy, it was right down the runway. So Sunday was a great day for people to come out to see this great gathering of warbirds. And come they did, with an over packed parking lot and a continuous minor traffic jam out on the road in front of the airport.
Another key change was emphasis this year B-25 Warbird Rides. In 2010 I do not remember that many B-25s giving rides to the public. If memory serves me correctly only one or two were doing it and it was somewhat limited. This year there was a coordinated effort among the B-25s along with the Champaign Air Museum that hosted the event to promote the rides to support the B-25s. The price among all the Mitchells' was the same and they all had a table to sell their rides in the Museum's hangar. So as a person that wanted to take a ride, it was one-stop shopping. He/she could walk in and then talk and book with whichever B-25 was the most desirable. And there were plenty to chose from, with 8-10 of the B-25s on hand providing the service.
So with the weather driving most of the crowd to come out on Sunday, the fact that the B-25s had a coordinated and well publicized ride program this year, and the fact that the economy is somewhat better than it was two years ago, Urbana became a very busy airport with at least (50) B-25 ride sorties during the day. Also new this year was a spectator viewing area (the Bullpen) right next to one of the taxiways which allowed more than just the media to get up close and personal with the B-25s as they were taking off, landing, and taxiing back in.
And when it comes to the Warbird Sound Index Factor, the B-25 Mitchell has the highest value when it comes to decibel level. So if there is one aircraft that can give the most warbird radial sound on take-off, the B-25 is first choice.
And do you know what? To see and hear all of these great B-25s coming and going all day it only cost $5. Five Bucks!! In an era where some airshows are charging $30 at the gate along with added charges for access to the hot ramp or special photo areas, this was a steal!
On Saturday the Yellow Rose probably wished she was back in Texas. I spent more time in my vehicle waiting for breaks in the showers than I did out on the airport grounds.
Tondalayo fires up for a Saturday Trip.
Here Barbie III rotates for a Saturday ride trip. There were 3 or 4 ride trips on Saturday
Its Sunday morning at 9:02, two minutes after the gates opened, and already here is the first arrival of the day, Axis Nightmare from the Tri-State Warbird Museum in Batavia, OH. Just the beginning of a great day of B-25 flying.
The Yellow Rose may have been grounded on Saturday but she wasted no time on Sunday by launching at 9:07. She was the first of over 50 B-25 take-offs for the day. Everybody is watching!
Next out was the Champaign Air Museum's B-25 Champaign Gal at 9:38. This is the first time I have seen her fly.
Nine minutes later Yankee Warrior took off. This was the cycle that continued all day until after 6 PM. The rides are 30 minutes in duration so once air operations got going the gaps were not very long between a take-off, landing or a B-25 in the pattern. This B-25D, built at the North American plant in Kansas City, KS is an actual combat veteran from the Mediterranean Theater of Operations during WWII.
Yellow Rose has returned from her first mission of the day and is turning back on to the taxiway. Runway 20 at Urbana is 4,400 feet in length. This photo was taken from the spectator viewing area.
Old Glory arrives from California.
Indicative of all the B-25 activity of the day. Miss Mitchell is on short final, Tondelayo is doing run-ups at the end of the runway and Barbie III appears to be getting ready to go back out as the co-pilot's seat is occupied.
This is Executive Sweet/Big Buck. There was always a group of enthusiasts taking photos every time a B-25 came by.
The B-25's cousin gives us all a low pass, P-51 Mustang Petie 2nd.
Devil Dog returns from a ride trip.
A loose five ship formation of B-25s.
Executive Sweet/Big Buck.
Now we have two P-51 Mustangs.
Gentleman Jim coming by the Bullpen. A chance for a P-51 enthusiast to get a return wave from the pilot.
Champaign Gal going out on an afternoon mission. Those in the Bullpen had an ideal location for all of the action.
Gentleman Jim heads out on a mission.
Petie 2nd is right behind.
Getting up close and personal with Show Me.
Out to the north east over the top of Devil Dog is Champaign Gal, Gentleman Jim and Petie 2nd inbound for a formation pass.
Miss Hap arrives.
5:45 PM. Betty's Dream with her fighter escort arrives!!
What actually happened at the end that resulted in the belief that the group would not arrive is that a B-25 had been scheduled to take off and meet the incoming aircraft over Springfield, OH and escort it in. When it escort was cancelled it was assumed that the arrival was delayed until the next morning. But they arrived sooner than expected and were no doubt ready to land after a long day of flying and to be able and go get a couple cold adult beverages.
Maid in the Shade.