A Flying Museum
On his first combat mission over Japan in June 1945, Bill Miller, the top turret gunner and flight engineer of the B-25 bomber “Panchito,” was surprised at how much the land looked like his Pennsylvania home. “Sure don’t seem to be Japan,” he wrote in his diary, “could pass for Penna. Woodland.” Miller, along with his identical twin, flew nineteen combat missions that summer aboard “Panchito” before the war ended in August.
B-25 “Mitchell” bombers first rose to prominence in 1942 when sixteen of them participated in the famous bombing raid – the first to strike the main Japanese islands – planned by Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle. B-25s were versatile planes and saw service in every theater of World War Two.
Today, you can get up close with a restored B-25 thanks to the efforts of the Delaware Aviation Museum. Their B-25J was built in 1944 and used for stateside Army Air Force training and various postwar uses. Later, civilian owners used it for crop dusting. Then, beginning in the 1980s, aviation enthusiasts began restoring it to its World War Two appearance. They christened their plane “Panchito” as a tribute to the wartime B-25 of that name.
“Panchito” flies to airshows and special events up and down the east coast, and the Delaware Aviation Museum even offers rides and scheduled pilot training classes. And just about every summer, “Panchito” flies right over the Pennsylvania woodlands that the Miller twins called home.
Visit the Delaware Aviation Museum
Location: 21781 Aviation Avenue , Georgetown, DE, 19947
Phone: (443) 458-8926
Hours: By appointment. The Museum’s B-25 travels across the country to various locations every summer (see their events page).
Admission: Free! Rides and classes are priced separately.