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EAA Chapters 237 and 25, B-25 Resto Work Parties

By Kirk E. Fjetland, Retired United States Navy, President EAA Chapter 237

December 2015 - Celebrating its 50th year as an EAA chapter, 2015 has been the most fun and active year to date for Chapter 237 at the Anoka County-Blaine airport (ANE) in Minnesota. Winter tends to hamper our aviation fun, but it doesn’t stop us! Chapter 237 is made up of a diverse group of experienced and talented members who love aviation, want to be active, and truly desire to keep The Spirit of Aviation alive and well.

More than 20 Chapter 237 members braved the wintry conditions and icy Wisconsin roads to start the year with January and February work parties at the EAA Kermit Weeks hangar. Chapter 237 members also volunteer at the EAA Skiplane Fly-In. With the advent of the spring and summer months, our activities substantially increased with participation in: Minnesota Pilot’s Association gathering at ANE; “Discover Aviation Days” at ANE; the AOPA Regional Fly-In, two AOPA Air Safety Institute seminars; the Ninety-Nines Regional Fly-In at ANE; not one, but two Aluminum Overcast tour stops; multiple Young Eagles rallies at ANE and other regional airports; and members spent the week prior to AirVenture at the Weeks Hangar cleaning, repairing, and moving EAA aircraft from the museum and Pioneer Airport.

Now we have begun our most challenging, exciting, and beneficial volunteer project: restoration of a World War II (WWII)-era B-25.

While towing the EAA’s B-25 with John Hopkins (EAA director of aircraft maintenance) to the front of the EAA AirVenture Museum prior to AirVenture 2014, I asked if the B-25 would ever be restored. John described everything that needed to be done and expressed that might be something he’d like to accomplish, but the approximate cost ($500,000) could be prohibitive.

Not learning from my experience in the NAVY (Never Again Volunteer Yourself), I mentioned that Chapter 237 would be willing to assist in any way possible. Nothing more of that project was discussed, and we thought the B-25 restoration project was a dead end. Without any advance notice this past winter, John informed me that the B-25 had been moved from the museum into the Weeks hangar, the starboard wing had been removed to get it in the hangar, and it was “game on”!

EAA had approved the B-25 project, but it came with a cost-saving stipulation that the work be done on an all-volunteer basis. Chapter 237 jumped at the opportunity to be involved with this historic aircraft and do our part to “Keep ’Em Flying.”

This November’s work party included members from Chapter 25, and what could be more appropriate than for them to help with the B-25. Chapter 237 is planning at least two or three work parties after the first of the year. The nose section is currently in our hangar building at ANE, and work has begun converting it into a WWII air-combat-ready machine. Chapter 237 has had three work sessions (with 13 volunteers each time) since obtaining the nose section and required parts/equipment. We know the importance for our small aviation community of working together for the future of aviation. We, and future generations, will all benefit from it!

This is not solely a Chapter 237 project, but an EAA one. We invite other area chapters and EAA members to join us with this historic endeavor. The B-25 restoration will be a daunting and time-consuming project, but it will be done!

Our motto: “The B-25 will fly before we die”...we hope!

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