Breaking News
More () »

Columbia organization restores WWII bomber plane

The SC Historic Aviation Foundation has been working on the B-25C bomber plane for over eight years.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A rare bomber plane used to train army pilots during World War II sits right here in Columbia.

And volunteers have been working to restore it for years after recovering it from the bottom of a South Carolina lake.

Most hangers at the Jim Hamilton-LB Owens Airport hold personal airplanes, but there is one that has a lot more in store.

“We got the airport to allow us to rent this hangar, and we brought it in here and we started working on it and it looks like it’s flight ready,” Kenneth Berry, president of the SC Historic Aviation Foundation, explained while pointing at the giant green plane.

It’s a B-25C bomber plane from the World War II era.

"This actual plane was used here in Columbia and we have people come through and go, ‘Yup, I worked on this plane in 1942,’” said Berry.

With the help of volunteers, the pilot has been fixing up the B-25 over the last eight years.

Berry showed News19 around the plane. 

"All this metal, this has been reformed a couple times. We’ve redone the whole front,” he said while pointing to the front.  

The bomber, once rusting on the bottom of Lake Greenwood, is now on its way to looking like it did when it was first built in 1942.

"You still find all the mud and everything up there, you still have to brush it out,” volunteer and Navy recruit Dale Lyon said.  

It was used for Army pilot training in South Carolina. Berry said that, one day, an instructor was showing cadets how to fly low over the lake "and, all-the-sudden, boom!"

According to Berry, who has worked with one of the cadets that were on the plane that day, the left propeller hit the water. 

"So, the only thing to do was kill the power and ditch the plane,” said Berry.

Thirty-nine years later, the plane was pulled from Lake Greenwood. Now, volunteers like Lyon are repairing a part of history one piece of metal at a time.

Lyon said he's been working on rebuilding the walls of the bomb bay of the plane.

The B-25 can’t fly, but they’re building it out completely; from the tires to the cockpit.

Berry said that when they first bought it in 2011, "there was no instrument panel, there was nothing. It was just a shell when we got it.”

His goal is to soon create an aviation museum around the B-25 and other artifacts they’ve collected.

If you’d like to see the hanger yourself, the foundation hosts an open house on the second Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. They're located at Hangar Y-1 at the Jim Hamilton-LB Owens Airport. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out