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Chapter 43 B-25 Project Slated for KidVenture

  • B25
    Chapter 43 mentors and Young Aviators pictured in front of their B-25 project.
  • B25
    The actual size Mitchell mock-up beginning to take on its familiar appearance.

December 11, 2014 - For many years members of EAA Chapter 43 of Erie, Colorado, have supported the wing rib-building booth at KidVenture during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. If all goes according to plan over the next several months, the chapter and its unique youth group Young Aviators will have an ever larger presence at the annual gathering in 2015.

The chapter and its active Young Aviators program are building from scratch a full-scale mock-up of the forward third of North American B-25J Mitchell bomber. When completed it will have a functioning instrument panel, authentic interior, and components - even sound - to emulate the B-25 experience. For example, push the throttle control and you’ll hear the engine power up.

Five kids at a time will be able to experience the mock-up manning pilot and copilot positions, navigator, bombardier, and top gun turret.

Students ages 8-18 are learning a variety of skills working with chapter members, including how to handle aluminum, measure, cut, drill, debur, rivet, and use power and hand-powered tools. They usually hold work sessions the first and third Saturday of the month, and about 30 Young Aviators are active with 15 to 20 appearing at each work session.

They’re also learning how to use computer-aided design (CAD) to build parts they don’t have, and working out the details to safely transport the project 1,000 miles to Oshkosh and back. The trailer itself will be a part of the eventual display, with hydraulics lifting the structure about 2 feet.

“We have it coming together,” said Scott Serani, Young Aviators adviser. “The sheet metal is essentially done, and we have team leaders in place for the electrical, trailer, instruments, interior. We have the requirements necessary for bringing it to Oshkosh.”

The chapter’s Young Aviators have worked on several projects before, including the Kid-EZ, a simulator for children used at Young Eagles rallies and similar functions, and a larger, full-motion sim for older people.

The B-25 project was provided courtesy of Scott McEwan, president of the Antique Aircraft Association of Colorado chapter, whose kids were working on it since 2005 at his Erie Municipal Airport hangar. McEwen offered the B-25 project, along with donated hangar space, to the Young Aviators.

Serani said they are attempting to make the aircraft project as authentic as possible. Apart from manufacturing parts they don’t have, they also have a “parts we need” list, so if there are any enthusiasts out there who happen to have a part the group could use for the project, please get in touch with them through the link.

The Young Aviators students are also learning about the flight and ground crews of perhaps the most famous B-25 mission of World War II, the Doolittle Raid. Plans are to tell stories of the Doolittle Raiders to visitors as they wait in line to experience the bomber in Oshkosh.

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