Montreal

97-year-old veteran takes to Montreal sky in vintage WW II bomber

A vintage B-25 has rolled into St-Hubert airport as part of the Flying Legends of Victory Tour, allowing 97-year-old Normand St. Aubin to recreate a photo he took in 1944 in the plane's cockpit.
Norm St. Aubin describes himself as a "spry 97-year-old" veteran who served as a mechanic during the Second World War and then flung himself out of airplanes as a Para Rescue soldier. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

A vintage B-25 has rolled into St-Hubert airport as part of the Flying Legends of Victory Tour, allowing 97-year-old Normand St. Aubin to recreate a photo he took in 1944 in the plane's cockpit.

The North American B-25 Mitchell was one of the Allies' toughest and most versatile aircraft during the Second World War. Nearly 10,000 were produced, but only 34 are still flying.

St. Aubin is the last living member of the Para Rescue squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War. He also served as an airplane mechanic in Goose Bay, N.L., where he would service planes, including the B-25s.

It's there, in 1944, that he clambered into the cockpit and snapped a photo.

On Monday, he tossed his cane aside and climb back onboard, placing himself in the same spot.

Norm St. Aubin in 1944 versus 2018 aboard a B-25 Mitchell Second World War bomber. (Top courtesy Norm St. Aubin)

Later, as the B-25 flew over Montreal, St. Aubin noted that the planes he serviced were a little bit different in the '40s.

"It was quite novel, the ones I had. They didn't have this system of exhaust," he said.

"They had individual exhaust pipes on each cylinder. so when you'd start them up, you'd see a little smoke here, smoke there, and finally it's smoke all the way around."

Flying Legends of Victory Tour

The Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum got their hands on the "Maid in the Shade" and decided to use it as a type of WW II history lesson.

"It's a large, tangible link to that time," said Pete Scholl, who pilots the B-25.

"This just gives [people] an opportunity to see the way that airmen from the U.S. Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force fought their war at that time."

The plane was just on display in Gatineau and will be at the St-Hubert airport until Aug. 19.

About the Author

Sarah Leavitt

Journalist

Sarah Leavitt is a journalist with CBC Montreal.

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