June 30, 2016 – After six months of restoration work, Chapter 237 of Blaine, Minnesota, delivered the nose of a B-25 to EAA’s Kermit Weeks Hangar on June 24 as part of the ongoing restoration of the 1943 B-25H Mitchell that used to sit in EAA’s museum.
“Chapter participation along with the skill and knowledge that these chapter members bring to us is a key part of what makes our whole operation successful,” said John Hopkins, EAA’s manager of aircraft maintenance.
Chapter 237’s involvement in the B-25 project began in January of 2015 when they helped kick off the restoration by removing all the aircraft’s windows.
“Last year after AirVenture John asked us if we’d be willing to take on a major project of refurbishing the nose,” said Chapter 237 member Curt Stoltz, who filled the role of project manager while the nose was visiting Minnesota. “They brought the nose over to us in Anoka and we started work basically after the first of the year.”
Because many of the parts for the B-25 are few and far between, Chapter 237 needed to get creative with the work laid out for them. One member built three separate jigs to form the spring clips needed to hold in the aircraft’s windows.
Another member, a cabinet maker, contributed to the restoration by remaking the bombardier seat.
“The biggest thing I learned out of this is I’m astounded at how much skill we have in the chapter—how much talent, raw talent,” Stoltz said.
And while refurbishing the nose of the B-25 took the help of 15 to 20 chapter members and between 600 and 800 man hours, the chapter doesn’t look at the project as work.
“It’s fun,” Stoltz said. “It’s rewarding. Where else can you go and work on airplanes A) that are this old, and B) that are this historical? And not only just touch them but actually drill holes and pound rivets.”
The chapter’s involvement won’t stop at the delivery of the nose, though. The B-25 will be on display this year at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, and Chapter 237 will be on hand to help share its history and talk about the restoration.
In addition to volunteering their time for the B-25 restoration, Chapter 237 flies between 200 and 300 Young Eagles every year, currently has two Eagles taking flight instruction who received their flights from the chapter, and has doubled their membership to 140 people in the past three years.
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