t might as well be a time machine.

Before most people, especially World War II veterans, say goodbye to Matt Conrad after spending time in one of his nostalgic birds, the past comes rushing back. And no wonder.

They’ve just completed a 40-minute trip into yesteryear on a restored B25 bomber.

“They get out of the plane realizing that this is what the heroes of World War II saw, felt, smelled and heard,” said Conrad, a pilot-in-command with the Missouri Wing of the St. Louis-based Commemorative Air Force. “Sometimes if they’re unsure, they ask, ‘Is this what it really was like?’

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“And I tell them, ‘Yes it is — except that there was no one shooting at us.’ “

The group will bring the B25 for flights — at $395 per person — and also a 1945 TBM Avenger for display only to Columbus Municipal Airport’s Aviation Day from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 13.

The schedule also will feature a civilian air show; $20 single-engine Cessna plane rides for the general public; free Young Eagles flights for young people; radio-controlled planes; the on-site Atterbury-Bakaler Air Museum and other attractions.

A $75-per person Balloon Glow lobster-tail dinner and live music gathering the night before, with lit-and-tethered hot air balloons at the airport hangar, also will be a part of festivities.

Last year’s Aviation Day, the first of such events locally and with fewer activities, attracted an estimated 3,800 people.

“That was far beyond our expectations,” said Brian Payne, local airport director. “We had no idea what was possible.”

Twelve planes will be available to take the public into the wild blue yonder, since last year’s wait time grew to two hours for trips skyward. One of the aircraft on hand will be the 1928 Ford Tri-Motor, a model that has visited the airport before, to provide $75 rides. Unlike other aircraft, it will be available June 11 to 14.

The Michigan-based Hooligan Formation Flight Team, formed in 2000, performs shows nationwide, with organizers reminding audiences that their precision flying in post-World War II aircraft is meant to honor World War II heroes.

Fort Wayne’s Marty Wyall played a behind-the-scenes role in that war. She was among the pioneering group of female training and ferrying pilots known as WASPS, an acronym for Women Airforce Service Pilots. She will be on hand at Aviation Day to display the uniform she wore for 10 months in the early 1940s at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas.

At 93, she still travels to a variety of air shows, and especially notices the World War II planes at the events.

“It makes me a little homesick,” Wyall said.

The T-6 Texan became her favorite plane.

“It was a lovely thing — just a wonderfully aerobatic plane,” she said.

If all goes according to plan, the Columbus Municipal Airport tarmac will be full of those for Aviation Day.

The day at a glance

What: Columbus Municipal Airport’s Aviation Day.

When: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 13, rain or shine.

Where: The airport at 4770 Ray Boll Boulevard.

Activities: A civilian air show; bounce houses for children; $20 single-engine Cessna plane rides for the general public; free Young Eagles flights for young people 8 to 17; radio-controlled planes; a pancake breakfast; a GTO and Corvette car show; a hog-roast lunch; the on-site Atterbury-Bakaler Air Museum; and other attractions.

Admission: Free.

Information: Aviation Day 2015 Facebook page.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.