ALPENA - The Wings Over Alpena air show organizers are proud to announce a few more special offerings for this summer's spectacle, one of which includes an opportunity to take a flight in one of the famous aircrafts scheduled to appear.
Phil Agius, the director of finance for Wings over Alpena, said this year's show will include visits from a B-25J Mitchell Bomber, also referred to as a "Panchito," and an EAA/Ford Tri-Motor plane, which was manufactured by Ford from 1926 through 1933. Agius said the Tri-Motor is a rare, 10-seat plane, and the air show is lucky to have it, let alone offer flights on it. He said it will be in town before the air show and afterward to provide locals a chance to experience it in action.
"One of the biggest things this year is going to be the Tri-Motor," Agius said. "There were only about 200 of them made at the Dearborn plant, and I believe there are only three of them still flying today. People can come and see it at the show or book flights from Thursday, Aug. 16 to Sunday the 19. It is $80 to go on a 10- or 15-minute flight."
Agius said Alpena native and pilot Cody Welch will be flying the Tri-Motor, and will offer a premium flight allowing passengers to take in the marvel of Thunder Bay with a sunset or sunrise from above.
"He is going to do a 45-minute flight for $175 for up to 10 people per trip. He will only offer four of them, but one will be a sunrise cruise and an evening tour as well," Agius said. "They don't usually offer this, so it is just a kind of neat and special thing for Alpena."
The B-25J Mitchell was a twin engine bomber used in Word War II. The "Panchito" was built in 1944 and featured 13 .50 caliber guns for air combat and could also carry 3,000 pounds of munitions for bombing. Agius said people will not be able to ride in the bomber, but it will make a flight during the show, and people can take a look and learn more about the history of the war plane.
"The DAV told us they would bring it up and cover all of the expenses, except the fuel, we will cover the fuel and they will show up," Agius said. "They will also have a trailer, which kind of tells the story of the B-25 and the DAV. They can sort of get the message out about the organizations and what it offers veterans. It is a very unique old airplane. This was the one that flew off the carrier decks when we bombed Japan, so it has a lot of history attached to it."
Wings over Alpena is scheduled for Aug. 18 with the gates to the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center opening at 8 a.m. and closing at 5 p.m. For more information or to book a flight on the Tri-Motor, contact Phil Agius at 916-9282 or visit the Wings Over Alpena website at wingsoveralpena.com/index.php/home. The Tri-Motor is sponsored by Alpena Boosters Club, Dean Arbor Ford and Alpena EAA Chapter 1021.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5689.