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Aviation class prepares for historic tour of WWII bomber

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A Career and Technical Education Academy class is preparing for the arrival of a World War II bomber plane in Sioux Falls. Thirteen high school students enrolled in an aviation course will take a field trip to attend the RAID 22 tour of a B-25 bomber next week.

Marcus Helland is a junior in the class. He enjoyed learning about the tactics the crew used during their missions.

“I’m just excited to see the sheer size of it because you only see pictures," Helland said. "We never get to see these planes up close, and so I’m excited to see just the aspects of the plane itself and how the size of it compares to another plane.”

Helland is already pursuing his private pilot's license and is excited to see how the plane flies up close.

B-25 bombers were used during World War II in the famous Doolittle Raid, which was a U.S. air raid on Japan. Two South Dakotans participated.

During the class period, the aviation students flew a B-25 bomber program on simulators. They saw what the plane looks like while flying it and how the controls are different from other planes they've flown before.

Laureen Mehlert, who teaches the class, said the students have a better understanding of who flew the plane and what it was like to fly it. 

“They can see where we came from," Mehlert said. "Our aircraft nowadays are so high-tech, and they practically fly themselves, right? You push a few buttons, pull back on the yoke and away you go. And so I think for them to see where we came from, it’s not just simple, and that where we came from in history is important because that built up where we are now.”

She said the field trip is a unique opportunity for the students because there are only 45 of the B-25 bombers still able to fly.

The aviation class will see the plane up close and in action on May 10.

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