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The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Missouri Pilots Association Gateway Chapter Remembers Doolittle Raider Reunion

By Carmelo Turdo
B-25 "Show Me"
The January meeting of the Gateway Chapter of the Missouri Pilots Association featured a presentation by Mr. Hubert Looney, crew member on the MO Commemorative Air Force's B-25 "Show Me" that participated in the 70th anniversary gathering of the remaining Doolittle Raiders.  The gathering of 20 B-25s is said to be the largest with the type since World War II, and it began April 14 of last year with the departure from St. Charles County Airport (SMARTT) for the staging area in Urbana, Ohio.  B-25s from all over the country, some traveling a week or longer (since most B-25s can only fly in VFR conditions), converged Grimes Field Municipal Airport (named for the former Grimes Aircraft Lighting company) for briefings and practice flights prior to the April 18 ceremony.  The B-25s and warbird fighter aircraft took up all the available ramp and hangar space, and many visitors were able to view the aircraft and visit the crews between practice flights.  Looney reported hearing stories of veterans using walkers spryly boarding the aircraft and manning their crew stations.  One veteran was said to have broken decades of silence in the cockpit of a B-25.    

The aircraft departed for Wright-Patterson AFB on April 17 for the reunion ceremony to be held the following day.  Four of the surviving Raiders (Lt. Col. Richard Cole, Maj. Thomas Griffin, Lt. Col. Robert Hite, Lt. Col. Edward Saylor and Master Sgt. David Thatcher) were present, along with a survivor of the sinking of the USS Hornet, Chief Petty Office Allen Josey.  The 20-plane formation of B-25s then saluted the Raiders, past and present.  Looney, who attended the 68, 69 and 70 year reunions commented, "Each time I thought it would be the last reunion."  He was gratified to participate, and looks forward to the next one.

For more information on the 71-year reunion of the Doolittle Raiders, please visit

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