WW-II Pilot to Be Reunited With B-25
    January 20, 2011 -
    The South Carolina Historic Aviation Foundation (SCHAF), stewards of a legendary B-25C that languished on the floor of Lake Greenwood for decades, is bringing back to Columbia the surviving pilot to re-introduce the Mitchell bomber to its public – the people of the Palmetto State.

    In a series of short, informal tours Saturday, Feb. 5 – at 11 a.m., noon, and 1 p.m. – Col. Dan Rossman, Ret., will set straight the record regarding the plane and its most fateful day – D-Day, and the day the plane ditched. The iconic aircraft will be on view at Eagle Aviation’s maintenance hangar, Owens-Hamilton Airport in Columbia.

    The date SCHAF chose for this new and prospective members’ orientation is reminiscent of the plane’s place in history.

    “Early in February 1942, Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle appeared unannounced at Columbia Army Air Base (now Columbia Metropolitan Airport) to recruit volunteers for a highly secret mission,” said Cantzon Foster, SCHAF president.

    “Doolittle held accountable for the mission’s secrecy all the volunteers he signed up at CAAB, but our mission today is no secret. We need the public’s help; we must preserve this piece of our shared history!” Foster said this first annual meeting of SCHAF will refresh the public’s memory regarding what is at stake.

    The raid Doolittle led that April became Chapter One of the B-25 model’s enduring legacy. The plane became synonymous with Allied victory in all theatres of war in which the B-25 served. And CAAB became one of the largest B-25 training centers in the world. The B-25 now under SCHAF’s protection began its service record at CAAB and survives as the last in-tact aircraft from that fleet of training planes.

    “The foundation is holding this open meeting to let citizens see the plane, and comprehend why we stepped forward to secure it for what we foresee as its future – as an ambassador for the state’s aviation legacy,” said Foster, a Columbia attorney in general practice.

    “To have Col. Rossman as the plane’s spokesman Feb. 5 will give guests an opportunity to see the plane and meet the pilot tied most closely with its history.” Foster said Rossman is uniquely qualified to set the record straight.

    “On D-Day – June 6, 1944 – Dan was the student pilot occupying the left seat as the plane dipped low above the surface of Lake Greenwood,” said his long-time friend Ron Shelton. “But it was the instructor pilot who had the controls when the props touched the water, instantly disabling the aircraft.”

    According to a long-disputed urban legend, the crew was flying low to check out sunbathers on the banks of Lake Greenwood. Shelton, SCHAF vice president for educational outreach and science curator emeritus of the South Carolina State Museum, said the crew’s assignment that day was to practice low-level passes. “Low-level bombing was what they were preparing for.”

    Participants in the Feb. 5 event will be able to ask Rossman for the truth.

    The event is free; however, participants are being asked to register for which of the three tours they prefer – 11 a.m., noon, or 1 p.m., by emailing: SCHAFmemberorientationfeb.5@gmail.com, by calling 803-731-0662, or visiting www.SCHistoricAviation.com



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