B-25 to linger at Walla Walla airport through end of month

The bomber 'Maid in the Shade' could possibly be joined here by a B-17 originally expected to visit.

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The B-25 bomber "Maid in the Shade" taxis into its parking place Monday afternoon at Walla Walla Regional Airport. (June 20, 2011)

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Looking back from the nose turret, one of the B-25's 1,700 horsepower engines churns the air over Walla Walla Monday afternoon. (June 20, 2011)

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The city of Walla Walla as city from the bombadier's position in the nose of the B-25 as it banks into a turn during a flight Monday. (June 20, 2011)

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Pilot Spike McLane, left, flies the "Maid in the Shade" around Walla Walla Monday afternoon during a media flight. (June 20, 2011)

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The mirror-polished prop spinner on one of 1,700 horsepower engines "Maid in the Shade" is equipped with reflects a bright summer sky over Walla Walla. (June 20, 2011)

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Eugene Fletcher, a World War II pilot who flew B-17 bombers, takes a ride in the B-25 Monday. (June 20, 2011)

WALLA WALLA -- "Maid in the Shade" will not be flying away too soon.

The World War II B-25 bomber will extend its visit to Walla Walla through June 30, said Jennifer Skoglund, airport manager. The aircraft will depart July 1 for its next stop.

Skoglund said the extended stay is because the tour schedule for the aircraft has changed while its sister ship, the B-17 "Sentimental Journey," undergoes safety checks and maintenance.

The B-17 was scheduled to accompany the "Maid in the Shade" to Walla Walla, but was returned to Arizona after the crash of a different B-17 southwest of Chicago earlier this month. There is "still a slight chance" the B-17 might fly into Walla Walla next week, Skoglund said, but that has not been confirmed.

Both aircraft are maintained and operated by the Commemorative Air Force Arizona Wing Aviation Museum, which is based at Falcon Field in Mesa.

In a related development, the Kirkman House Museum is sponsoring a drawing for a ride on the "Maid in the Shade."

Tickets for the drawing are available for $5 apiece at the Kirkman House Museum, 214 N. Colville, or at the entrance to the B-25 exhibit at Walla Walla Regional Airport.

Rick Tuttle, one of the event organizers, said the drawing will be made at the end of the day Saturday and the winner will get to fly on the aircraft Sunday.

The time of the flight has not been determined.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

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