B-25 “Wild Cargo” Photo Tour


B-25J "Wild Cargo" at Warriors & Warbirds 2009.

WARBIRD RADIO – Take a closer look at this awesome restoration!  The Fighter Factor, based in Virginia Beach, operates this beautiful B-25.  The story of Wild Cargo (and how she was named) is worth reading.  Click “Continue Reading” to see the photo tour and the news paper article outlining her story.  Thanks for listening!

PHOTO TOUR OF B-25 Wild Cargo

Click “Continue Reading” To View The Newspaper Article

By Paul Lugannani
of The Enquirer Staff
February 21, 1963


A crippled twin-engine aircraft, loaded with some 2000 reptiles of a wild animal show, made a spectacular wheels-up landing Wednesday afternoon at Lunken Airport and the pilot walked away. In a thrill-packed 15 minutes, the World War II type B-25 plane, came in, one engine dead, the other failing, with the landing gear jammed.

The co-pilot had bailed out minutes before, after Leonard McGee Downe, Calif., the pilot assessed the hazards compounded by a 24-mph cross wind. Roy Hurst 25, Meridian, Miss., the co-pilot, suffered scratches and head cuts when he parachuted from 3000 feet and landed in a tree near Newtown. He was taken to General Hospital.

The plane, Wild Cargo, is a World War II medium bomber of the type used in the famous Doolittle raid on Tokyo. It was converted into a transport by its owner, Arthur Jones, Sildell, La., television performer and producer of an animal show scheduled to open Saturday at Music Hall. Mr. Jones later said the show will go on. The “passenger” list included four alligators.

The pilot was minutes out of Lunken, en route from Sildell, when he radioed the control tower that his airplane’s right engine was dead and the landing gear inoperable. As he circled the field at 6000 feet to reduce the gas load, tension mounted on the ground, where nearly a dozen police and fire department vehicles took up standby emergency positions.

Cincinnati Fire Marshal Ben Ballard marshalled the forces to the north end of the main runway which angles south from Beechmont Levee. He stretched 1000 feet of hose under pressure from a Wilmer Avenue hydrant and was ready to pursue the plane with 3000 more feet.

DON’T GO TILL I give the signal – and remember there are alligators in there.. Human lift first, then animals if possible, he told his men who were clad in aluminum asbestos heat resistant suits. From the control tower Wesley Schaffer, chief, calmly conversed with the pilot of the stricken craft, suggesting safety procedures.

At 3:05 p.m. Pilot McGee and veteran of 20 years in the air and a ferry pilot in World War II, reported the co-pilot was going to parachute. Mr. Hurst delayed his jump until the plane had passed north of the field. He disappeared in a wooded area.

Moments after the Orange and white chute blossomed, Mr. McGee circled to the left and began the grim, wheels-up approach to the runway. All who say it agreed it was a perfect crash landing. For a moment it appeared the worst would happen fire. Midway along a 400 foot, grinding slide there was flame among the myriad of trailing sparks.

FORTUNATELY, the flame died of its own accord just as the craft ground to a halt. However, fire in the electrical system filled the cabin with smoke. Marshal Ballard stopped it by disconnecting the battery. Mr. McGee virtually catapulted himself out of the top escape hatch, the door of which he previously had jettisoned.

Running for his life, Mr. McGee collapsed on another runway 200 feet away. “That was something! He gasped-“Just let me sit here awhile and say nothing.” After a pause: “I hope that co-pilot made t. He cracked his head hard when he went out.”

Moments later, refreshed by a cigarette in a police cruiser, he explained:

“I didn’t get shook until that final approach. As I was coming down that second engine started going out on me. I didn’t think I’d have enough power left to reach the field. I shut off the fuel before touchdown.”

That precaution apparently spared firemen from fighting a major fire. Firemen unloaded the trussed alligators and crates of snakes and turtles. “Boy I felt good when I saw all of that equipment down there.” Mr. McGee said gratefully to a fireman.

Article Courtesy of Cincinnati Enquire

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