My flight in a B-25. And the jacket for the occasion was ...

Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by Stand By, Nov 1, 2017.

  1. Stand By

    Stand By One Too Many

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    Hello everyone,

    So yesterday I took a 20-minute flight in the B-25 Mitchell “Hot Gen” (Hot Gen being a double entendre for hot news or breaking news) at the Canadian Vintage Aircraft Museum located at Mount Hope, just outside Hamilton, Ontario. It was a treat to myself with some money that came to me as a surprise windfall. 98% of this cash has gone responsibly towards pension contributions, debt reduction and the remainder on renovations for the new house, but I kept just a little aside for myself: a new flying jacket (Buzz Ricksons B-15D) plus Buzz A-10 gloves and chinos, some new boots (Chippewa via L.L. Bean. They’re amazing!) and new winter clothes. But I also wanted an experience, so I stumped up for this! Alas I couldn’t justify the flight on the Lancaster but the B-25 I could do, and having been a fan of the Mitchell since I first saw the film “Hannover Street” back in the 1980’s, which I loved then and still do.

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    So I booked it - and up I went! And it seemed only appropriate to wear my Aero ANJ-3 for the occasion!
    What an experience! I can’t recommend it enough for anyone who has an interest and the chance to do it. I was just 1 of 3 passengers with one fella up front by the navigator and I was sitting in the fuselage by the starboard waist gun (which are fixed, not moving, so a good handle to hold on to!). We were sitting facing backwards and were strapped in for take-off but when levelled off, we could unbuckle and walk about the fuselage and crawl out to the rear gunner position.
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    To be brief, I was expecting it to be noisy, but man, it was SO LOUD! Jesus. It’s no wonder some guys would finish their tours deaf (the pilots deaf in the right ear, the co-pilot in the left, as those were the ears closest to the engine!). It was stinky with exhaust fumes until someone in the front office kindly opened a window. It was chilly in there too. But it felt solid and safe and I felt no mortal danger.

    The take-off was shocking – very fast and steep and it was something else to feel the G’s pulling me but in the other way to every other take-off I’ve ever known, namely those that pushes you back INTO the seat! And the plane flew like a fighter! I mean, I knew it could, but to be in it and feeling it bank so easily and at speed, well, it felt so amazing.

    I crawled back into the rear gunner position and the view was stunning. I was somehow expecting it to be quieter there – and briefly pulled off my headphones to check. HELL NO! Deafeningly loud back there too. Fantastic!

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    The plane flew out over Lake Ontario and back, banking back and forth as we went. The landing was very smooth.

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    The flights on the Lancaster were also happening and they last one hour but it’s a simple take off, level flight out over Lake Ontario and a wide turn back to base. It’s a real nostalgia flight – whereas the B-25 flight is that but is shorter at 20 mins (plus 10 mins taxiing at both ends) – but is more exciting and dramatic.
    Today’s post comes to you with the kind assistance of Nick123, so my sincere thanks to him!

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    Last edited: Nov 3, 2017
  2. Cooper A-2

    Cooper A-2 Practically Family

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    Wow,
    thx for sharing!
    Great experience.
     
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  3. redlinerobert

    redlinerobert One of the Regulars

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    Now that is amazing. Thanks for sharing!
     
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  4. nick123

    nick123 I'll Lock Up

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    Amazing write-up and photos. Glad I could help David! I too recommend the flight, in whichever bird of choice (or budget). I did the '17, and the pilots flying the various warbirds stated that the 25 was the loudest in-flight. The B-17 was loud, so I believe you.

    In many ways, I think these flights should be the 8th grade Washington DC trip. Yes, they are pricey, but they are a living history lesson; and I'm not saying that lightly. We sometimes take for granted so much of what those flyers (and those who served in any capacity) did/do for us. Much, much more than a flight in a cool old plane. When you take a simple ride on one you get a tiny sense of their sacrifice. Congrats.
     
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  5. seres

    seres A-List Customer

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    Great story and write-up! Thanks for sharing!
     
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  6. rocketeer

    rocketeer Call Me a Cab

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    A great experience and thanks for sharing the story. A bit expensive for 20 mins but what the heck, you only live once and opportunities like this don't happen everyday.
    I would love to go up in an old warbird, especially an old WWI biplane, WWII Lancaster, B24 or a a Vietnam era F4 Phantom.
     
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  7. Tefouane

    Tefouane A-List Customer

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    Amazing trip. Thanks for sharing. You are a lucky guy!
     
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  8. Stand By

    Stand By One Too Many

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    I totally agree Nick. If only more of the young could experience this, perhaps they’d have more of a sense of the sacrifices made for us. I mean, I was up there and the plane felt safe, but it would be tricky to walk the fuselage as it was buffeted in an air pocket or was making any turn - but add flak to that, plus evasive maneuvers and cannon fire or machine gun fire - or fire itself! - and it’s a whole other slice of terror. Or being forced to open that belly hatch and bale out at low altitude ... yikes! I found that my imagination could only go so far as the full reality would be beyond my scope of comprehension.
    And it’s one thing to go up in a bomber because I really wanted to - but these crews were made to leave the safety and comforts of home, train and fly hostile skies and be away for years ...
    Amazing.

    And thanks again for helping around my limitations on being to post! You’re a star!
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2017
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  9. Stand By

    Stand By One Too Many

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    Actually, 20 mins was sufficient for the B-25! With me sitting backwards, the exhaust smells and maneuvers, I was glad it ended when it did. Sick bags are provided, tucked into spars on the fuselage, and there were a couple of moments that I made a note of where mine was!
    I was glad of the delicious bacon and eggs breakfast at the museum AFTER the flight and that I hadn’t had them before!
    The Lancaster ride is one hour and that’d be perfect, I reckon, but an hour in the B-25 ... all bets would be off in the hurling stakes! It was enough and fantastic.
     
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  10. TREEMAN

    TREEMAN One Too Many

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    Totally Awesome......
     
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  11. Siggmund

    Siggmund One of the Regulars

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    Stand By, kudos on the great narrative, pics and insights into the realities aboard a B-25. I wonder how it would've handled with a belly full of bombs and weapons. It sure sounds like it was all rock 'n roll for your flight.
     
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  12. Doctor Damage

    Doctor Damage My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    This is tremendous and thanks for posting, Standby. I had no idea Warplane Heritage was doing flights. I live an easy 20 min drive away and see the Lanc going over the house a few times each summer.
     
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  13. Dumpster Diver

    Dumpster Diver Practically Family

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    Alright!!! Lookin snappy there gus!!!
     
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  14. Stand By

    Stand By One Too Many

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    Thank you to all for the kind comments!
    And yes, DD, there are many flights to be had there; from a Tiger Moth to a Harvard and the Consoldated Canso and many more! Heck, once a member ($120) you can fly in the DC-3 Dakota for $80! My flight was $500 but I got a tax receipt for $200! Well worth it and I’d do it again.
    I asked what plane the pilot would recommend for me next time and he said that they have a TBD Avenger about to be completed after an 8- year restoration (it was a bug sprayer up in Northern Ontario!) and I saw it there in the hanger, nearly done. Just a few final parts and a paint job left. And he said that one! Imagine that awesomeness!
     
  15. Interbak

    Interbak One of the Regulars

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    Maybe all of us local Ontario folks should plan to get together for a flight next year. I did the B 17 Yankee Lady when it was at the Jet museum in London a couple years ago, would love to fly in the Lanc.

    B
     
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  16. kowalski

    kowalski Practically Family

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    I know what you felt during the flight to make
    i have some time ago the opportunity to fly with my Father (on picture right) military Polish DC4 (it is IŁ 14):)
    Best regards Stand
     

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  17. kampkatz

    kampkatz Practically Family

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    You certainly had an experience to cherish for the rest of your life. My father rode in B-25's many times as an Army Airways Communications System inspector when he was in Brazil during WW2. He said it was the noisiest airplane he'd ever been in. Ear phones offered some protection from the loud engine sound.
     
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  18. Doctor Damage

    Doctor Damage My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    $500 is totally reasonable and yeah I'm definitely going to do this next spring/summer. Again thanks for posting, Standby, I'd had no heard of this.
    Not a bad idea, actually. It would be hard to co-ordinate.
    Thanks for posting that, Kowalski. Excellent photo and a good reminder of how the Poles contributed so much, tough people, then and now.

    -------------

    On a related note about keeping old warplanes flying, a friend of mine had a summer job with a local architect. That architect went on to win a friggin' huge lawsuit payout from Disney LINK which then allowed him to buy some old warplanes and do a show LINK1 LINK2. I'm not sure if he's linked to Warplane Heritage, but it's the same sort of thing, i.e. preserving these old planes and keeping them flying.
     
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  19. Big J

    Big J Call Me a Cab

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    That's awesome! I'm really jealous!
    Did you wear a parachute?
    How noisy, hot, windy, stinky was it?
    Did you see a lot of sharp edges inside waiting to rip or snag your jacket?

    Many years ago I had a ride in the backseat of an F-4. The F-4 was the first plane I remember seeing as a kid, I saw one at an air show doing lots of low level turns with the burner on- it was the loudest thing I ever heard to this day, so I was really pumped to go up, but it turned out to be a little underwhelming in that aside from the massive acceleration on take off, I felt like I was a victim of sensory deprivation; can't see anything out of the back unless you're upside down.
     
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  20. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    Quite the experience. I'd very much like one day to get a run in one of those old warbirds, though I'm also very glad I'll never have to deal with doing it 'for real'. My primary school headmaster was an RAF navigator during the war and had terrible experiences of the RAF, of being sent out with only one engine working (and branded LMF for bringing the whole crew home safely with only one engine, rather than completing the run with that meaning certain death for them all), of being a PoW in a German camp, of being treated even worse by the Brits when he did what he felt was his duty and escaped back to England... THe worst of it for him, though, was the long term guilt: as the navigator, it was his job to operate the bomb doors, and he carried with him long after the war a sense of responsibility for the civilian lives he ended, especially the children. THat's why he got into teaching, to feel like he was in some way making up for it. I've long had serious issues with Arthur Harris and Churchill over some of what was done, but the embarassment and treatment of the poor buggers sent out on those bombing runs after the war was shameful.
     
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