WWII planes to stop in Wheeling

WHEELING – Two World War II aircraft – the P51 and B25 – designed by Wheeling native Howard “Dutch” Kindleberger are scheduled to be on display and available for rides July 15-21 at the Wheeling-Ohio County Airport.

The airplanes’ arrival is part of a celebration to show off the airport’s newly expanded terminal museum and to allow the public to tour the air traffic control tower, said Tom Tominack, airport manager.

On April 18, 1942, the United States launched an air attack on Japan known as the Doolittle Tokyo Raid. Kindleberger, who was born and raised in North Wheeling, designed the B-25 bomber used in the raid. What made this World War II raid significant was that it was successfully launched from an aircraft carrier, a feat thought impossible until this time.

Tominack, who knows much about the history of the Doolittle Raid, said a small section of the airport’s terminal museum is dedicated to Kindleberger. Kindleberger’s company, North American Aviation, built the B-25s. He also was lead designer of several other planes, including the Douglas D-1, D-2 and DC-3.

The terminal museum expansion project was completed by airport maintenance workers Brian Cetorelli, Don Cetorelli and Mark Robinson. The project, which involved tearing down old walls, drop ceilings, installing new dry wall, woodwork, painting, removing old duct work and more, took about two years to complete.

“Between daily activities they did this,” Tominack said of the employees, noting their work on the museum was meticulous.

“You would be hard-pressed to find county employees anywhere in the United States that would go above and beyond like this.”

The museum includes numerous artifacts related to local and national aviation collected over the years by Tominack and the airport employees.

“It’s a tribute to aviation,” Tominack said.

Tominack said the expansion of the museum restores the terminal space to its original look. During the four-day event, food and refreshments will be provided by Valley Cheese of Wheeling. Tours of the control tower will also be offered. Since the control room is small, only about eight to 10 people will be allowed in the room at one time.