Sunday, July 7, 2024


Date: June 29, 2024 (1943)
Location: Truax Field, Madison, Wisconsin (Port Moresby, New Guinea)
Mission: Training and Photo Reconnaissance 
Aircraft: Restored B-25 Medium Bomber (Berlin Express)
Owner: Experimental Aircraft Association (The celebrated EAA)
Photos: Click on them to enlarge.

For my May 1st birthday, my wife Dorothy asked if the unique opportunity to fly in a restored Mitchell Bomber, a lovely North American B-25, interested me. Well, YES! After checking flight schedules, we chose Saturday June 29, 2024 when the aircraft would be under 100 miles from home.  

Isolated on the east side of Madison, WI's Truax Airport is The Wisconsin Aviation Center. Small aircraft use this facility. It sports a restaurant, small gift shop and offices. It you want to learn to fly, apparently this is the place to start.

Inside dozens of people awaited briefings to fly in the EAA's 1929 Ford Tri-Motor and Berlin Express. Crews and handlers were all cheerful and helpful volunteers who love airplanes and flying.


My boarding pass memento with complimentary ear plugs. There are stories of past passengers not wanting the earplugs until in flight. The two engines are prodigiously loud making erratic popping sounds about which we were advised to not worry about. I removed one earplug a few times for seconds only to hear the true sound of the thunderous engines. Each time I reflected on war movies when bomber crews easily exchange quips, orders, etc. There is no way.  

My boarding access point.

Our pilot (left) is an Eastern Airlines pilot who volunteered to fly Berlin Express for fun. Observing both pilots was instructional and fun. Gee, I wish I could learn to fly.

Helpful Tip: Be in the first flight of the day. Reason: Getting the aircraft ready and engines running smoothly adds a lot of extra time inside.

Yours truly sitting forward of amidships on a modern platform fitted with three passenger seats. Below us is the bomb bay.

One must climb over the wing support beam within the fuselage to get here. Being limber is a must. Passengers offered helpful hands to steady us when we walked and crawled about.

Looking aft. Passengers with limited mobility easily sit here. The man dressed in a khaki shirt with headphones was our crew chief. He directed us to handholds such as the yellow bar in the upper left and acted as a traffic controller as passengers moved about the airplane.

Starboard side machine gun.

Machine gun ammunition belt and ammo box.

Radio Set.

Dog tags and uniform coat.

In order to reach the nose, I crawled through an estimated 6'x24"x24" tunnel.  Above me were unseen pilots on a platform. To access the nose you crawl on the stomach or back. If the latter, a long yellow bar above could be used as a handhold to pull forward.

The view was remarkably good. We circled Madison clockwise for about twenty minutes. It was a little windy forward. When leaving, my hat blew off in the tunnel. 

My next stop was the rear of the airplane. This necessitated passing through the entire length of the aircraft climbing over the wing support and other whatsits to arrive at....

Another tunnel. Ahead is a bicycle ish seat for the rear gunner. Note green panels installed so tourists will not hurt themselves. These were not present during the war.

Rear machine guns.

Vertical tail and rudder.

I watched the rudder move a few times. Each time the rudder moved slightly during our gradually banked turns. 

Aft machine gun position.

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This was a terrific once in a lifetime experience. Thank you for looking in.
Have you had a similar experience?


Tri-Motor Link:

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  1. How cool is that, Bill??!! My wife and son will be in Wisconsin later in the summer for the BIG EAA airshow further north. I think they'll get to see one of two still airworthy B-29 Superfortresses while there. It sounds like you ha a blast. What a gift! And happy belated birthday.

    Kind Regards,


  2. What a superb present to get and what an experience, brilliant!

  3. You are a braver man than I. There have been several restored WW2 era airplanes that crashed in recent years. I’m glad that your trip was without incident. It sounds like a fun experience despite my trepidations.

  4. Absolutely fascinating post. Thanks for sharing this great gift with us.
    Alan Tradgardland