By Rick Sallinger
BROOMFIELD, Colo. (CBS4) – It is one thing to study history from a book, but it’s quite another to get a taste of it in person.
For one Denver man it was like going back in time as he got to ride in a B-25 World War II bomber decades after his flights over enemy territory.
Leonard Estrin, 93, was a crew member when he flew on various bombers during the war. His job was to make sure the payload hit the ground.
As he looked up at 250 and 500 pound bombs inside the open bay door, he recalled the danger.
“One mission was kind of scary cause we hit the top of a tree,” Estrin said.
The B-25 was the most heavily armed aircraft in the war with both high and low level bombing.
The one from the Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum one was known as “Maid in the Shade” because it was built in a hanger.
Estrin recalls getting the orders to go up on missions during the war.
“That was the scariest part of the mission… go find your group of maybe 200 planes flying around,” he said.
On this day for him the call came again. Not to release bombs, but to ride to honor the veterans and aircraft of World War II.
The plane left Broomfield not for a mission over Germany or Yugoslavia, but rather Boulder and surrounding areas. Inside the nose, back and sides, the guns that brought down enemy aircraft now sit idle.
From the ground, it must have been quite a sight. Not jets, but twin propellers while pilots from the Arizona Commemorative Air Force were at the controls
A flight that came with an education and a lesson.
“This will teach people history, something that should never, never be forgotten. Hopefully we never have to do anything like this again,” Estrin said.
He served and survived with memories of a war that was won.
The “Maid in the Shade” will be at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Broomfield near U.S. 36 and Wadsworth until Sunday.