As part of the annual Great Planes on the Great Plains Fly-In at Hays Regional Airport this year, the event will have a piece of World War II significance to it.
The Commemorative Air Force was to have landed the Maid in The Shade B-25J bomber today at the airport. Starting Tuesday, tours will be given every day until Sunday, running from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, tour flights will be given on the historical plane.
The actual Great Planes on the Great Plains Fly-In event will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
The bomber flew 15 combat missions over Italy from Nov. 4 to Dec. 31, 1944. Maid in The Shade, which is a medium-size bomber, is just more than 70 years old.
“I do expect with the Commemorative Air Force, I do expect more people will show up,” Airport Manager Nathan Marcucci said. “Whenever they show up, especially when you have something like a bomber, people are interested. Why not come look?”
The bomber, which is part of the Commemorative Air Force’s Flying Legends of Victory Tour, comes from Airbase Arizona located in Mesa, Ariz. The tour is part of the flying museum that travels across the country. The Commemorative Air Force is a non-for-profit organization with its home base in Midland, Texas.
“The goal is to show the younger generation that kids as young as 17, 18 or however young they were when they went to war were flying these aircraft,” Marcucci said of the purpose of the flying tour. “This is what we used to beat the (enemy) Axis.”
Maid in the Shade was placed at the Arizona base in 1981. It took nearly 28 years to restore the plane.
Marcucci said the airport has talked to the Commemorative Air Force in the last few years about bringing one of its planes to Hays. The Arizona base called Marcucci earlier this year and told him it would be possible.