When Kevin Cotter, an F/A-18 mechanic with Boeing, approaches the B-25 for the first time in the morning, his voice is full of affection for the 70-year-old aircraft.
“I think she looks gorgeous, as always,” Cotter said.
The aircraft’s age hasn’t diminished Cotter’s love. He is part of a crew that has restored, flies and maintains the B-25. The best part, he said, is seeing the veterans, whose lives have been impacted by the plane.
“I love flying in it, I love working on it, but seeing those old vets light up, that’s what I like the best,” Cotter said.
The veterans and their families turn out in droves to see the aircraft. One nephew of a B-25 tailgunner told the story of how his Uncle Jay was shot down and ended up in a German prison.
“What a story,” said the nephew, John Barhydt. “He’s happily married and has a couple of boys, and is living in Broken Arrow. Why, I think it’s a good airplane.”
Cotter’s support also extends through Boeing’s charitable contribution match program. He gives $25 every two weeks, which the company matches. And for every 25 hours he works on the aircraft, Boeing also gives $250 dollars.
“We’re a non-profit organization, so everything you see here has been donated,” said Cotter. “And the cost is phenomenal, I mean we spend $30,000 a month, I believe, on just maintaining the facilities, the aircraft, fuel.”