Wings of Freedom Tour – Tondelayo

Build your own B25J  Mitchell Bomber at Amazon.com

38th Bomb Group - 823rd Squadron

There are more than one hundred surviving North American B-25 Mitchells scattered over the world, mainly in the United States. Most of them are on static display in museums, but about 45 are still airworthy.

A significant number of these were brought together for Catch-22, a 1970 war film adapted from the book of the same name by Joseph Heller. When Catch-22 began preliminary production, Paramount hired the Tallmantz Aviation organization to obtain available B-25s. Tallmantz president, Frank G. Tallman ended up finding war-surplus aircraft, and eventually gathered not only pilots to fly the aircraft but also a ground support crew to maintain the fleet. – Wikipedia

The Collings Foundation, located in Stow, Massachusetts sponsors a Wings of Freedom tour across the United States. When I learned they were flying a B-25 into Manchester airport,  the same aircraft my uncle piloted in the South Pacific, I knew I had to see this.

New Hampshire Chronicle was at this event and I was interviewed when I told them about my uncle. The segment can be seen by clicking on this link.

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B-25J Mitchell Bomber – This is a different configuration than the one my uncle piloted. The clear plexiglass dome was replaced with a shorter nose fitted with two fixed 12.7mm machine guns and a 75mm cannon. I remember him commenting that it was quite loud.
Wings of Freedom Tour
Before the flight, we had to rotate the blades 9 times to clear the oil from the cylinders. It takes two people to move each blade.

Wings of Freedom Tour

Tondaleyo was a exotic dancer. She danced at places such as the Cotton Club. She was considered one of the most flashiest women of her day, with diamonds, furs, and minks galore. She’s also credited for being the first black woman to own a nightclub in New York.

Wings of Freedom Tour
I’ve seen photos, read my uncles flight diary, but I wanted to experience what it feels like to be in this war machine. It is hot, smells of oil and is incredibly loud. During take off I was seated behind the pilots. Thumbs up and away we go.
Wings of Freedom Tour
Crawling through a tunnel in a flying airplane was an interesting experience, but what a view of Manchester, NH
Wings of Freedom Tour
Didn’t see any enemy aircraft
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10 thoughts on “Wings of Freedom Tour – Tondelayo

    1. This was short notice, a friend told me about it this weekend and as soon as I found that a B-25 was part of the tour, I arranged for one of my last vacation days so I could go. Taking a flight was a last minute decision.

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    1. Yes, this was an emotional moment for me also. There was a question whether they had the minimum number of folks to have the flight and a few more signed up. Most people wanted to fly in the B-17 Flying Fortress.

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