GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) — ” B17 is probably the most iconic aircraft in World War 2″ voiced Program Director, Mike Mueller.
Out of just 5 B17’s still flying today, The Rocky Mountain Wing Division of the Commemorative Air Force in Grand Junction temporarily hosted one of the largest. The TBM Avenger has a constant team of enthusiastic volunteers like program director Mike Muller to look after it.
Muller stated, “I always knew I had a passion for World War two planes as a kid.”
Can you blame him? The B17 was ahead of its time. The aircraft was known as a strategic bomber, which meant it went long distances carrying heavy artillery.
“She can carry up to 8 thousand pounds of bombs, and fly over 2 thousand miles, combat radius” Muller added.
The Avenger served a significant role. Even past the war.
Muller mentioned, “In the 50’s she became a water bomber, and fought fires for 18 years as tanker 17 out in Chico, California.”
The other veteran plane visiting the Western slope. The b-25 Mitchell bomber.
“She flew 15 missions between November and December of 1944 out of Corsica.” Muller uttered.
There are only 34 B-25’s from World War 2 still flying, and the people who know best, like Mueller don’t think they get the credit they deserve.
Muller uttered, “It was used as a bomber in Europe, it was used as low level strafes as an attacker in a Pacific. It was used by every allied power in the theatre of combat.”
The invaluable lessons and stories behind each plane are why people like David Gilham actually pay to volunteer.
“The Air Force wants to educate, honor, and inspire. And I like that, I think its very important. World war 2 is something we should never forget” Gilham stated.
We should also never forget how many missions airmen accomplished. In 1943, airmen flew 25 missions, and only 1 in four returned. Muller thinks the resiliency of the greatest generation is still alive today.
Muller added, “I think the Ukrainians are showing that they’re the greatest generation in their country right now. Because of the defense they’re putting out. And its going to be important for them to remember what they did. As its important for us to remember what our greatest generation did.”
Source: Grand Junction Local News | World War 2 Veterans planes visit the Western Slope