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March 22, 2012

Urbana, Ohio, Airport the Target for Largest Gathering of B-25 Bombers since World War II

Record-setting Event Leads Up to
70th Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Reunion at Air Force Museum

URBANA, Ohio – Flying in from around the U.S., about two dozen B-25 Mitchell bombers will converge on Urbana, Ohio’s municipal airport, Grimes Field, beginning Saturday, April 14. The largest gathering of B-25s since World War II, the Grimes Gathering of B-25s will lead into the 70th Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Reunion at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force (NMUSAF), near Dayton.
For the 68th Reunion in 2010, 17 B-25s gathered at Grimes Field.

The 70th Reunion ceremonies, April 17-20, will commemorate the famed April 18, 1942, bombing raid on Japan by 16 B-25s and their brave crewmen, under the leadership of Lt. Col. James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle. The five surviving crewmen of the raid will participate in the reunion, including being the guests of honor at a private breakfast at the Champaign Aviation Museum at Grimes Field.
The Grimes Gathering of B-25s, April 14-16, will allow the public to get a close-up look at the twin-engine medium bombers while they are on static display – and meet their crews. Also while in Urbana, the B-25s will fly around the area. Rides will be available for purchase on as many as six of the aircraft.  

At 7 a.m. Tuesday, April 17, the B-25s will begin a dramatic departure from Grimes Field, taking off one after the other for the NMUSAF, where they will take part in ceremonies honoring the surviving Doolittle Tokyo Raiders.

“This is a tremendous privilege and honor, for the Urbana area and Grimes Field to play a role in honoring these American heroes,” said Jim White, who is co-chairing the Grimes Gathering of B-25s with Dave Millner. “The Grimes Gathering of B-25s is living history at its best. Seeing these meticulously restored aircraft and hearing the roar of their engines, I believe, brings you closer to appreciating the sacrifice and bravery of the men who put their lives on the line for our freedom.”

Visitors can gain ramp admittance for close-up viewing of the bombers from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 14-16, for a $5 donation, which will help defray costs of the event, including fuel for the bombers.  A variety of World War II era military vehicles also will be on display.

Flights will be available for purchase on up to six of the aircraft. Flight reservations can be made from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 14-16 in the Champaign Aviation Museum at Grimes Field.
One of the participating B-25s, the Champaign Gal, is part of the permanent collection of the Champaign Aviation Museum.

For more information…

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About the Doolittle Raid

The Doolittle Raid was a pivotal mission in the U.S. war against Japan. In an unprecedented combat launch from the USS Hornet aircraft carrier, 16 Army Air Force B-25s attacked Tokyo and four other Japanese cities on April 18, 1942, four months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Under the leadership of Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, the mission gave Americans a much-needed lift in spirits and alarmed the Japanese, who had believed their home islands were safe from invasion.

While the Doolittle Raiders successfully bombed the targeted cities without loss, 15 of the 16 bombers crash-landed en route to recovery fields in eastern China. They were low on fuel because they had to take off 170 miles early when the Hornet was spotted by Japanese fishing vessels; the recovery bases lacked homing aids; and they were flying at night in stormy, zero-visibility conditions.

Only one of the B-25s landed intact, in the Soviet Union, where its five-man crew was interned and the aircraft confiscated.

Of the 80 Doolittle Raiders, seven were injured and three were killed. In addition, eight crew members were taken prisoner by the Japanese. Three were executed and one died of malnutrition and mistreatment in confinement. Many of the Raiders went on to fly other combat missions. Ten were killed in action in Europe, North Africa and Indo-China.

The five surviving Raiders are participating in the 70th Reunion.

About Grimes Field

Rich in history, Grimes Field, 1636 N. Main St. (U.S. 68), Urbana, is an active airport that serves the private and corporate aviation needs of Urbana and Champaign County, Ohio. The airport was donated to the city of Urbana in 1943 by Warren G. Grimes, a pioneer in aviation lighting whose many inventions include the familiar red, green, and white navigation lights on the wing tips and tails of aircraft.

Inducted posthumously into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2010, Mr. Grimes is known as the Father of the Aircraft Lighting Industry. In the 1930s he founded Grimes Manufacturing (now Honeywell Aerospace) in Urbana. The company, which continues to serve military and commercial aviation markets, engineered and manufactured lighting used on nearly all American and Allied aircraft in World War II.

The airport is a part of the National Aviation Heritage Area ( and is home to two museums:
  • The Champaign Aviation Museum features World War II-era aircraft, including the B-25J Champaign Gal, and is home to the ongoing restoration of a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, the Champaign Lady.
  • The Grimes Flying Lab Museum celebrates Warren Grimes’ important role in the history of flight and features the restored Grimes Flying Lab, a Beech 18 used to test Grimes’ innovations.

The airport hosts fly-ins and special events, including the Mid-Eastern Regional Fly-in, one of the country’s leading gatherings of experimental aircraft, to be held August 25 and 26 this year.
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Media Contacts for the Grimes Gathering of B-25s:

Ron Kaplan, Media Coordinator
C: 937-212-8847

Gary Schenkel,
Deputy Media Coordinator
C: 937-478-6533
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