While some of this news has been covered in an earlier piece, WarbirdsNews felt our readers would enjoy a recap of what the Sandbar Mitchell restoration team has accomplished this past August. Here is a synopsis based upon their words.
Perhaps the most exciting news was the Warbirds of Glory Museum’s acquisition of the mortal remains of a long-forgotten B-25J. Abandoned in Nome, Alaska during WWII, B-25J 44-28898 was one of many B-25s scheduled for delivery to the Soviet Union under President Roosevelt’s Lend/Lease program. American crews ferried the aircraft as far as Fairbanks, Alaska, where the official hand-off would occur. The Russians then prepared them for the long journey to the USSR, with a stop in Nome before crossing the Bering Straits into Siberia.
However, a landing accident in Nome ended 44-28898’s trip. Without a repair facility at Nome, the Russians removed any useful parts for spares, then abandoned what was left. For 70 years, the old girl awaited rescue. Fortunately, the Nome Aviation & Military Museum recovered the wreck and donated it to the Sandbar Mitchell project. The museum needs your help to return her to the project’s restoration shop in Michigan. Some of her parts will be used to restore Sandbar Mitchell. Eventually, this forgotten Mitchell bomber will be made available to somebody else to restore.
The other big news for the Sandbar Mitchell project is the recent acquisition of some additional parts actually belonging to the original aircraft. While on a contract maintaining a WWII SNJ trainer for the USAF Test Pilot School, Warbirds of Glory Museum’s Patrick Mihalek stopped in Chino, California to visit Carl Scholl at Aero Trader. Some parts stripped from the Sandbar Mitchell during her decades in the wilderness had turned up in Aero Trader’s collection, and the company made an agreement to reunite the original right side vertical stabilizer and the remains of the glazed nose with the bomber. Someone apparently had removed the components from the Sandbar Mitchell in the 90s. While traveling back to Michigan from California, Mihalek and Todd Trainor headed north to Montana to meet Lloyd and Claudia Thorsrud. Lloyd is the son of the Sandbar Mitchell’s previous owner. While in Montana, Mihalek and Trainor obtained the remaining inventory from the former Johnson Flying Service as a donation to the museum. The museum is very lucky and grateful to John H for saving this collection of parts from scrapping twenty years ago.
After a busy month of traveling, work can now continue on Sandbar Mitchell. The restoration team removed the original forward glazing framework from the damaged nose section from Sandbar Mitchell and attached it to the forward fuselage they will be using on the restored aircraft. The project is also on schedule to have the spars removed by the end of the year.