Vintage military aircraft at Crites Field today

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WAUKESHA — Every time pilots Steve Betzler and Paul Keppeler slide into the cockpit of the PT-26 Cornell and the F-86E Sabre, respectively, they can’t help but think they are entering a time machine.

When they do, they each think about the brave souls who may have sat in that plane more than 50 years ago during World War II or the Korean War.

“It’s sort of a time tunnel,” Betzler said. “Everything is military, it’s marked military, the fittings are military, the seat belts are military. You sort of go back in time a little bit.

“It’s like getting into an old sports car.”

The PT-26 and the F-86E are two of the planes on display from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at Crites Field, 2525 Aviation Road, for the Commemorative Air Force Wisconsin Wing’s event, “Gathering of Warbirds.”

Cost is $15 per vehicle.

The show will allow attendees to get up close and personal to planes used during World War II and the Korean War. Rides on the planes are also available.

Miss Mitchell and more One of the highlights will be a B-25 bomber — Miss Mitchell — that was flown in World War II.

Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle and his squadron flew B-25s over Japan as the first wave of attacks on that country four months after the Pearl Harbor attack and the U.S. entry in World War II.

That went down in history as the Doolittle Raid and it took place 75 years ago this year — April 18, 1942.

“My grandfather was in the Air Force, my dad was in World War II; even though I wasn’t in the service, I feel somehow connected to the whole thing,” Betzler said.

It’s a thrill for Betzler, Keppeler and the other pilots to fly these historic planes, including some that were flown in combat.

 

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Robert Lewis
Robert graduated from Brandman University, where he got his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Born in Massachusetts, Robert’s family moved to Kentucky in 2005 where he spent his college life and worked as an insurance agent for four years. Now is the founder and team leader of the website.

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