2017-10-13 / Front Page

SCHAF B-25 airplane GF2 turns 75

Contributed by South Carolina Historic Aviation Foundation(SCHAF)


Ron Skipper, left, in window; Lucien Lapierre, Katherine Cuddy, and Niall McLaughlin. Ron Skipper, left, in window; Lucien Lapierre, Katherine Cuddy, and Niall McLaughlin. Columbia’s fabled B- 25C GF-2 is turning 75, and the South Carolina Historic Aviation Foundation (SCHAF) is celebrating with an October 14 Open House and celebration. Second Saturdays are regular Open House days for SCHAF –10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

According to SCHAF education vice president Ron Shelton, “Our rare artifact came off the assembly line in Inglewood, California, 75 years ago, had a brief stopover in Kansas City, Kansas, to take on some military additions, then arrived in Columbia.”

Shelton, who served as science curator at the South Carolina State Museum for several decades, said B-25s were sent to bases throughout the U.S., and some directly into theaters of war, but Columbia Army Air Base ( CAAB) received more than any other base.

“From CAAB, this plane was then assigned to Greenville and had left Greenville Army Air Base the morning of D- Day, 1944, when the training accident occurred that sent it to the bottom of Lake Greenwood where it stayed for 39 years,” Shelton said.


South Carolina Historic Aviation volunteers who have restored the cockpit of the rare Mitchell B-25 and now are starting to work on the bomb bay are Ron Skipper, left in window; Lucien Lapierre; Katherine Cuddy; and Niall McLaughlin. Standing: John Chamberlain and David Moxley. Absent when picture was made: Joe McDonagh and Edwin Scott. Chris Gillam is holding the sign that notes support from the Richland County Conservation Commission. South Carolina Historic Aviation volunteers who have restored the cockpit of the rare Mitchell B-25 and now are starting to work on the bomb bay are Ron Skipper, left in window; Lucien Lapierre; Katherine Cuddy; and Niall McLaughlin. Standing: John Chamberlain and David Moxley. Absent when picture was made: Joe McDonagh and Edwin Scott. Chris Gillam is holding the sign that notes support from the Richland County Conservation Commission. The legend of that ditching, and the plane’s 1983 recovery, will be among the stories re-told during the birthday celebration.

The event will highlight the involvement of the late Col. Dan Rossman who was in the cockpit June 6, 1944, when the low flying Mitchell bomber’s propellers touched the surface of Lake Greenwood waters, leading to the often- recounted accident.

“It is unique, a real rarity, for a plane involved in an accident to be reunited with its pilot many years later,” Shelton said. “Dan Rossman made countless trips to Columbia, over several decades, to reconnect with the plane and to actively support its preservation.”

From Rossman’s first flight in the aircraft to his final trip to Columbia to see the latest progress of its preservation, the former GE engineer was involved for more than 70 years.

“And the citizens of South Carolina have had 75 years of involvement with this plane,” Shelton noted.

Ron Skipper said another highlight of the anniversary event will be a status report on the plane’s restoration. “Volunteers working on the plane have completed the cockpit, and we will be talking up our next goal for the restoration,” Skipper said. The Richland County Conservation Commission provided substantial support for the project.

The Open House and 75th birthday observance will take place at Hamilton-Owens Airport. For more information, visit: schistoricaviation.org.

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