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Historic B-25 among aircraft returning to air show this weekend

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The Pikes Peak Regional Airshow returns this weekend, bringing with it a variety of both cutting-edge and vintage aircraft.

The headliner is an F-35 Lightning II, a 5th-generation fighter jet.

Along with its own aerial demonstration, it will briefly fly alongside a P-38 Lightning in a rare display of aviation evolution.

Few aircraft, however, have a history that matches the B-25 bomber.

A B-25 owned and piloted by Bill Klaers is among the aircraft that will fly at this year's air show.

The plane is best known for its role in the Doolittle Raid that followed the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War 2.

In April of 1942, 16 of the modified bombers were piled onto an aircraft carrier, loaded with bombs, and sent into the heart of Tokyo.

The overall damage was relatively minor, but it showed the Japanese that their homeland was vulnerable.

“Not a big victory as far as devastation or anything, but it was a big victory to change the morale of the country,” says Bill Klaers, who owns and pilots a B-25 in this year’s air show.

Klaers gave KRDO a glimpse into what airmen saw and experienced exactly 80 years ago.

The views from the B-25 are incredible, but it is a bumpy, cramped, uncomfortable ride, and the noise is so loud that a person can’t even hear himself talk.

A tiny crawl space connects the rear of the B-25 to the main seating area.

KRDO’s flight only lasted about half an hour, but during World War 2, some flights would last up to six hours.

Klaers’s B-25 is one of only a few dozen left in the world still flying, and he hopes that just like in the raid on Tokyo, his flights will have a lasting psychological impact on those who see them.

“World War 2, even though it's just 75 years ago, has become so distant, it's hard to believe.  So to be able to bring these airplanes out, and let people see them, you know our whole mission over there is to get kids excited about aviation careers of some type, it doesn't have to be a pilot, it could be a mechanic, it could be any number of things,” he says.

The air show this weekend might just be a way to get some of those careers off the ground.

It will take place both Saturday and Sunday at the Colorado Springs Airport.

The parking lot opens at 7, and gates open at 8 a.m.

Click here for a more detailed map and schedule of events.

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Bart Bedsole

Bart is the evening anchor for KRDO. Learn more about Bart here.


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