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Volunteers passionate about old war bird

Maid in the Shade load master Shirley Sukkel is pictured with the restored Second World War bomber at the Penticton Airport, Monday, June 26, 2017. The Victoria resident became interesed in the historic aircraft after she took a flight in one.
June 26, 2017 - 4:45 PM


PENTICTON - For volunteer members of the flight crew of a restored Second World War bomber, it’s a labour of passion.

The eight member crew of the Commemorative Air Force Base arrived in Penticton this morning, June 26, as they prepare to spend the week showing off the restored 1944 Mitchell B-25 bomber Maid in the Shade.

Several members of the crew were in Penticton last year when they brought a restored B-17 bomber to town. The last time Maid in the Shade was in Penticton was 2015.

Crew members were preparing the bomber for their first guests this morning, as they begin a week’s worth of daily tours of the plane and three days of flights this weekend.

Load master Mike Mueller loves flying in the World War II relic. He spends six months of the year in Seattle and the other six in Arizona in order to be able to participate in the flights.

“The significance for us is to be able to honour remaining veterans. We like to take them up when we can. The second thing is education, to let the public touch a piece of history, get inside and go flying is very important,” Mueller says, adding it helps to bring context to history, and experience something our forefathers experienced.

Load master Mike Mueller is seen during a flight of Maid in the Shade over Penticton Monday, June 26, 2017. The vintage B-25 Mitchell bomber is in city until July 2, 2017.
Load master Mike Mueller is seen during a flight of Maid in the Shade over Penticton Monday, June 26, 2017. The vintage B-25 Mitchell bomber is in city until July 2, 2017.

Shirley Sukkel is a flight crew member from Victoria, who signed on after taking a ride when the bomber stopped there a few years ago.

“My dad was in the Air Force, I was an air force brat and lived the life. When I took the ride in Victoria, I was pumped,” she says.

This is Sukkel's second year with the Commemorative Air Force.

“This is a good crew. It’s lots of fun, but a lot of hard work, too,” she says.

The Mitchell bomber was used extensively by all members of the Allied forces in the Second World War. Some were even provided to the Russians on a lend-lease basis.

The United States mainly used the bomber in the Pacific theatre, for ground attack and skip bombing, a technique that involved bouncing a bomb off the ocean’s surface into the hull of a warship. The Mitchell bomber could carry up to 4,000 pounds of bombs, and was equipped with up to 12 offensive and six defensive machine guns.

The Maid in the Shade crew will be offering rides to the public from June 30 to July 2 at the Penticton airport. See the Commemorative Air Force Base website for schedules and location or call 480-462-2992 to reserve a seat.

Maid in the Shade travels to Kamloops next week.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © iNFOnews, 2017

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