BY LOGAN MCCOURTNEY –
On Wednesday afternoon, a historic B-25 Bomber Plane took flight at the Mena Airport. The bomber had been at Crider Aircraft for the past month being painted. The aircraft is a 1944 North American, Designed PBJ Controlled Bomber. This particular plane is a part of the Devil Dog Squadron and is grouped with the Commemorative Air Force. The Devil Dog represents a PBJ, the Marine Corps version of a B-25. Bombers like this were used throughout WWII and provided a decisive advantage during the war. One of the most memorable bombings was April 18, 1942, when sixteen B-25s launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet and bombed Japan. This is famously known as the “Doolittle Raid”.
After pulling the plane out of Crider’s hangar, they warmed the plane’s engines up because it had been sitting for the last month during the cold weather. When the engines were warm the pilots took the plane up on a test run.
Members of the crew at Crider Aircraft received a special opportunity that day. The pilots of the bomber took members of the crew in the air and circled around Polk County as a way to show their appreciation for their hard work. One particular worker said, “This was the coolest thing I’ve been a part of. By far the best plane ride ever.” Workers from each of the hangars at the Mena Airport were standing outside their hangars, hoping to catch a glimpse of the plane as she went for flights.
Not only were the members of the Commemorative Air Force special guests, but one of Polk County’s own was in attendance, Mr. Tom Earhart was there for the big day. Mr. Earhart is one of the oldest veterans in Polk County from WWII. He served as Sergeant in the Army Air Force during WWII and was a mechanic on the B-25’s. Cindy Crider, owner of Crider Aircraft said that Mr. Earhart has been coming out everyday for the past month to watch them work on the plane. “Mr. Earhart is a legend here and it was so cool that he could be here for this special day,” said Crider. Earhart worked in detail on the metal of the planes during WWII along with many other features of the bombers.
It was a great day at the Mena Airport as not just Crider Aircraft celebrated, but all the hangars looked on with anticipation. To knowledge, this is the first B-25 bomber that has every received work here in Mena.
After the quick flights, the pilots of the Commemorative Air Force were flying the plane back to Georgetown, Tex., where the plane would receive some mechanical work over the next couple of months during the Winter. The Devil Dog is based and hangared at Pilots Choice Aviation. For more information on this bomber and other planes from WWII, you can visit www.commemorativeairforce.org. You can find the nearest location and even see the schedules for flights for the Bombers and other War Birds as well.