a peek inside the fishbowl

07 Aug, 2018

A peek inside a B-25 bomber!

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Ottawa|travel talk

I have soooo much to write about this week but so little time. (1) I have some camping stories to finish telling (2) it’s Mark and my 20th anniversary! (3) I was a passenger on a B-25 Mitchell bomber (!) and lived to tell the tale.

Today I am going with #3 and the others will have to wait. :)

Some backstory: The B-25 Mitchell “Maid in the Shade,” is in Gatineau at the Aero Gatineau-Ottawa airport until August 12 as part of its Summer Flying Legends of Victory Tour across the U.S. and Canada.

The aircraft was used in America’s first large-scale bombing offensive in the Philippines and is one of the most iconic airplanes from World War II. In fact, the B-25 is an exceptionally rare aircraft and this one is one of 34 in the world that is still flying.

Mark drove me to the airport as part of a media event. We waited a long time for its arrival. It was stinking hot and it was making me feel woozy. I was also a bit anxious about the whole thing. We waited and waited, I paced around in a field with a handful of other media people, and then suddenly, there it was. I could hear it before I saw it. As I watched it land, taxi down the runway and finally arrive, I had the biggest grin on my face. THIS WAS GOING TO BE COOL.

Me and the B-25 in Gatineau

WWII B-25 Mitchell Bomber Maid in the Shade

I should say that this tour, made possible by the volunteers of the non-profit 501(c)3 Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum, features three restored WWII combat aircraft: C-47/DC-3 Combat Legend “Old Number 30;” B-17 Bomber “Sentimental Journey;” and B-25 Bomber “Maid in the Shade.” These warbirds and their crews will follow separate tour routes across the U.S. and Canada and visit approximately 50 cities from May through October 2018 to fulfill their mission of educating all generations about the role of aviation in combat.

Lucky me, I was invited to climb aboard for a short flight. Here’s a short video of my journey, just to give you a feel for what it was like. (Ha. Watch me climb out at the end!)

I was very nervous going up, but I can’t honestly say why. The rational side of me knew I was going to be ok, but I was anxious anyway. Here is a bit of the breathtaking view I had from my seat:

View from the B-25 Mitchell Bomber

View from the B-25 flight

I’ve had a few people ask me if my flight was enjoyable. I can’t honestly describe it in those terms. The B-25 was not made for comfort, it was made for war. Without a doubt, my 20-minute flight was certainly interesting and educational and it gave me a slightly better perspective on what it must have been like up there during a mission. It was hot, sickly hot, and I was sweating buckets the whole time. Everything vibrated and shook. Afterwards I jokingly described my time up there as being trapped in a hot tin can… a very LOUD tin can at that. I don’t think that description is too far off. I was happy to go up there and equally happy to return to solid ground again.

My flight in a B-25 bomber (Maid in the Shade)

I thought about the people who flew in it. They must have felt everything I did and a whole more: Exhaustion, worry, fear. It is remarkable, really. This is a piece of history that’s important to see and know.

You can tour this remarkable piece of history during its stop in Gatineau or reserve a seat for a flight. To book, or for more info, visit http://bit.ly/FLOVTGatineauQC. For more information about the Flying Legends of Victory Tour, visit www.flyinglegendstour.com.

3 Responses to "A peek inside a B-25 bomber!"

1 | Brien Marshall

August 7th, 2018 at 11:05 pm


Thanks for sharing that – what a way to get a visceral sense of how those airmen must have felt, minus the extra fear of not knowing if this would be their last flight. You said it was loud, but from the outside it sounded like those engines were purring!

2 | andrea tomkins

August 8th, 2018 at 8:14 pm


It was REALLY special. The more I think about it, the more grateful I am to have had this experience.
re: the volume. Everyone was given headphones for duration the flight to dampen the noise and they barely muffled the half of it!

3 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Silent Lake 2018: last post! - a peek inside the fishbowl

August 10th, 2018 at 10:00 am


[…] been a busy week! The highlights: I got to fly on a vintage WWII bomber and Mark and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary with a little […]

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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