Doolittle Raider Takes to Skies Again!

This past Independence Day, a  Doolittle Raider was given another chance to take to the skies in a C-47 known as the Texas Zephyr. Though he has not seen much in the way of flight since the Second World War came to a close, war hero Lt. Col. Dick Cole had always wanted to fly the Zephyr. With the assistance of the Texas Historic Aviation Group, the Doolittle Raider was able to finally live out his dream.

Cole has definitely had experience with similar aircrafts in the past. During the Second World War, he flew a number of missions as a pilot. One of his most well-known flights departed from the USS Hornet. This flight, in 1942, was the first B-25 bomber in the mid-sized class to depart from the ship. Cole flew alongside the original Doolittle Raider on this flight, Jimmy Doolittle. With nearly one hundred other men, they took off to attack numerous bombing sites throughout the Asian continent. Their bombings in Japan were mostly successful, though their flight over China was somewhat more ill-fated. They crashed, but luckily survived.

Not many of the team were fortunate enough to survive to this day. Only Cole and three others now remain. This makes his flight about the C-47 all the more monumental, as it is a rare experience provided to a man with a rare background as a surviving Doolittle Raider. While Cole was not originally meant to pilot the plane, he could not stand to remain a passenger for too long. He eventually had to take the helm himself and experience the sensation of flying once more, the Fox 29 reports.

The flight did not last for long. Although he was in the air for less than one hour in total, Cole found it to be exhilarating. Now approaching his hundredth year of life, Cole was not certain he would ever fly again. He remembers his days as a Doolittle Raider, and feels that the experience of flying has not changed greatly since then. He strongly reveres the aircrafts he pilots, feeling that they do all the work while he simply enjoys the ride.

Cole’s work as a Doolittle Raider was important to the many bombing missions carried out by the Allies during the Second World War. After seven decades, he has been given the chance to fly a war-era plane simply for his own enjoyment. The Doolittle Raider ate up every second of the experience. If he has time to fly again while he is still alive, he very much plans on doing so.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE