Wings and Wheels: On the ground and in the air

Richard Cole, one of last surviving Doolittle's Raiders
Panchito, one of the few remaining B-25s, is on display – and available for rides – during Wings and Wheels at Sussex County's airport in Georgetown. Owned by Larry Kelly, the historic airplane was restored in 1986. Getting his photo taken is Richard Cole, who piloted B-25s during World War II and volunteered for Doolittle's raid. BY RON MACARTHUR
October 11, 2013

Summer-like weather and a chance to meet a World War II hero drew thousands to the sixth annual Wings and Wheels at Sussex County's airport in Georgetown. Sponsored by the Greater Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and the Delaware Aviation Museum, the event featured fly-ins by modern and vintage airplanes, plane rides, a large car show, World War II re-enactors, entertainment and vendors.

The highlight of this year's event was a visit by Richard Cole, one of four surviving members of the famed Doolittle raid. Serving as copilot to then Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, Cole was one of 80 volunteers who on April 18, 1942, launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet in 16 B-25 Mitchell aircraft to bomb Tokyo. The crews knew they would have to land their planes or parachute out of them into China after making their bombing runs because the planes could not return and land on the Hornet.

Each year crew members have met in honor of the historic raid,  aimed at boosting morale in the United States following the devastating Dec. 7, 1941, surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

The survivors had what is probably their final reunion this past summer at Elgin Air Force Base in Florida, where they had trained for their secret mission. Cole, 98, piloted the Panchito, a restored B-25, to a landing at the air base prior to the reunion.