In 2012, 30 year old Patrick Mihalek, owner at Legend Of Aces Aviation believed there was hope to make “Sandbar Mitchell” fly again and to achieve a life long dream. Having help from his best friend Todd Trainor, Director of the Aeronca Aircraft History Museum he was able to obtain the ownership of the aircraft from the Thorsrud family, the recovery permits from the state of Alaska and Fort Wayne Wright.
North American B-25J construction #108-34008 was delivered to United States Army Air forces as 44-30733, in 1944. After being converted to a TB-25N bomber trainer it was stored at Davis Monthan AFB, AZ, from 1958-1959. The aircraft was sold surplus in 1959 to National Metals out of Phoenix, AZ were it was put in the civilian register as N9088Z. The B-25 was then converted for the use as a fire suppression aircraft by installing a chemical tank in the bomb bay.
It was purchased by Johnson Flying Service out of Missoula, MT and was operated out of Fairbanks, AK as tanker #8. In 1966 the aircraft was transferred to Edgar L. Thorsrud. Edgar would travel to Fairbanks every fire season to fly the Mitchell for the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. In June 27, 1969 the Mitchell was loaned to the DNR by Edgar to be used to fight the large Manly Hot Springs fire, as Edgar could not be there to fly the aircraft. On departure from Fairbanks, both R-2600 engines quit on Herm Gallaher forcing him to gear up land the B-25 on a sandbar on the Tanana river.
Shortly after the forced landing Edgar had his mechanic Jim Anderson arrive to the sandbar to remove the engines, wheels, and other parts that could be used on his other B-25, now owned by the Fantasy Of Flight Museum flying as “Apache Princess”. The reaming airframe of the “Sandbar Mitchell” was left derelict at the crash site for the past 44 years with parts being removed by scavengers and other restorers.
Over the next decade, Patrick hopes to restore this aircraft to flying condition were it will be the show piece in his newly formed Warbirds Of Glory Museum.
This aircraft will go from being a sadden airframe to a beautiful flying piece of WWII history.
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