What's on Tap

What's on Tap

Aviation buffs and history fans get a treat in Sanford this weekend

Posted May 12

— The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) is bringing three WWII-era aircraft to the Raleigh Executive Airport to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid. The planes – a B-25 Mitchell Bomber, a P-51 Mustang and an SBD-5 Dauntless bomber – are part of what the CAF calls the "world’s largest flying museum."

Sixteen B-25Bs, like the one on display this weekend, conducted the first US attack on Japanese soil after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The so-called “Doolittle Raid," led by Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, didn’t afflict much damage on Japan, but it forced the Japanese to divert resources toward home defense and was a big boon to US morale, shaken by the bombs on the “day that will live in infamy."

Air Force B-25 âMiss Mitchellâ

The B-25 was widely used in WWII, serving in every theater of combat. More than 10,000 were made.

A P-51 Mustang fighter and an SBD-5 Dauntless bomber join the B-25 on the ramp this weekend.

The Mustang was a heavily-used fighter, flying more than a million hours and destroying almost 5,000 enemy aircraft for the US Army Air Force alone. It saw service after WWII in Korea and beyond.

The Dauntless, on the other hand, had been considered by some as obsolete before it sank four aircraft carriers during the Battle of Midway in 1942.

B-25 âMiss Mitchellâ

Each of the aircraft has been restored by members of the CAF, a 13,000-member non-profit dedicated to educating people about World War II era aviation. The CAF’s Matt Quy says seeing the planes in person makes history come alive.

“When the aircraft comes to life, it really changes," he says. "Just starting up the engines and hearing the popping of the exhaust coming out of the cylinders and the sound of the propeller – hopefully it’s something that when kids and adults see it, it inspires them to learn more about the history of WWII and what these aircraft did.”

Promotional poster for the Commemorative Air Force event

The aircraft display is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days this weekend. It is free to tour the display, and the CAF is accepting donations to further their work. Rides in each plane are also available, starting at $450 for a 25-minute flight in the B-25. The proceeds support the CAF’s efforts to acquire and restore more aircraft. You can reserve rides on the CAF Dixie Wing’s website.

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