Take flight over Ottawa in a vintage B-25 bomber

Take a tour of — or even a flight in — a vintage B-25 bomber, currently on display in Gatineau.

Maid in the Shade in town this week to promote Aero Gatineau-Ottawa

Richard Lawrence, a retired captain with the Canadian Forces, explains why a B-25 bomber on display at the Gatineau Executive Airport until Aug. 12 is worth admiring. 1:03

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.

Military aviation buffs in the National Capital Region are in luck, though: there's one on display until Sunday at the Aéroport Exécutif Ottawa-Gatineau.

"It was an aircraft that just did any mission you could throw at it," said Richard Lawrence, a retired captain with the Canadian Forces who also volunteers with Aero Gatineau-Ottawa, the region's annual airshow.

This year's spectacle celebrates a century of aviation in Canada, and the vintage B-25, named Maid in the Shade, is here to promote the event.

Maid in the Shade was built in 1944 and flew combat missions over Italy. (Omar Dabaghi-Pacheco)

Combat missions

The heavily armed bombers were used for both high- and low-level missions, strafing, photo reconnaissance, submarine patrol and even as fighters. B-25's were famously used in an Allied raid over Tokyo in 1942.

Maid in the Shade ended the war based in Corsica, flying 15 combat missions over Italy in November and December 1944. The majority of its targets were railroad bridges.

You need to understand what these people went up into.- Richard Lawrence, Aero Gatineau-Ottawa

"Think of yourself up at 20,000 feet, surrounded by enemy aircraft, shooting away," Lawrence said. "You need to understand what these people went up into."

To really understand, of course, you need to go up in one. For a few hundred dollars, you can book a flight on Maid in the Shade from Friday until Sunday. For a few hundred more, you can take the navigator's seat in the plane's nose.

Organizers say flights are filling up fast.

Aero Gatineau-Ottawa takes place Sept. 15, and will feature other historic aircraft.

For the right price, you can take flight in the nose of Maid in the Shade, a vintage Second World War B-25 bomber. (Omar Dabaghi-Pacheco/CBC)