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WWII-era planes on display, giving tours

BEMIDJI — The Commemorative Air Force in St. Paul is hosting an “educational flying museum” through the holiday weekend, according to Jim Gilmore, a CAF volunteer pilot and air show coordinator.

The museum is part of various aviation activities this week at Bemidji Regional Airport, with the Mississippi Headwaters Flyers of Bemidji sponsoring the various flight exhibits.

Featuring aircraft from the World War II era — a North American B-25 Mitchell, a Ryan PT-22 Recruit, a Vultee BT-13 Valiant and a Stinson L-5 Sentinel — Gilmore said the featured display will give the public a chance to explore the historic machines as well as experience their power by taking a flight tour Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“They can see, touch and feel the planes that were out on missions,” he said. “They’ll get a historical education on World War II.”

For varying prices, Gilmore said the public can choose which planes they wish to climb aboard and see Bemidji from above. Flyers must be 12 years or older to tour in the airplanes.

Flight prices:

- B–25: $450 per seat (tax deductible

- PT–22, BT–13: $150 per seat

- L–5: $125 per seat

Gilmore said the North American B-25 Mitchell will not give flight tours Thursday, due to the noise disturbance it might cause with various holiday festivities occurring around town.

The CAF is asking for a $5 donation to tour the planes to help offset flying expenses.

According to Gilmore, a military weapons carrier vehicle will also be accompany the aircraft.

“It’s a great part of history,” he said.

Volunteering at the CAF for 13 years, Gilmore is the pilot for the B-25. He said the “flying museum” travels the Midwest during the summer months to promote aviation and spread education about World War II.

Free tours of the Bemidji Regional Airport and Bemidji Aviation will also be provided Thursday and Friday.