WWII Era Planes Stop in Blacksburg Before Flyover

Blacksburg, VA - Saturday's home football game for the Hokies against Bowling Green will be "Military Appreciation Day."

The team will wear camouflage helmets and jerseys, and there will be a fly over by two very special planes: A B-25 Mitchell bomber and a P-51 Mustang tank buster.

The B-25 is the same type of plane that was launched from the deck of an aircraft carrier back in 1942 when General Jimmy Doolittle made his legendary raid on Japan.

When Tim Gillian isn't flying a vintage WWII aircraft, he's usually talking about them, and Friday much of the conversation has been about his current assignment: A B-25 Mitchell bomber that's more than 60 years old.

"In the air show business, warbirds are still one of the top three attractions," said Gillian.

Wherever he lands, there always seems to be plenty of people to chat with.

"Especially in a venue like this when you can walk right up and touch them. People like to see this and people like to see that their kids understand how this all happened," he said.

People like Emily Fritz who thought Friday would be a great day to get out and get a history lesson in.

"How often can you see this and meet the pilots and be able to talk to them and have them explain the history of the aircraft. It's almost a school lesson right here for my kids and for me too," said Fritz, who brought her son Zach to the event. "History isn't taught as early as it used to be so I'll be able to show him these pictures and he will be able to see that he saw this in person; that's his little body next to the big tire. I think it will be meaningful for him."

It's something that can't escape the man that helps pilot the plane either, no matter how many times he takes this bird up.

"You just cannot help let your mind drift back to World War II and the guys who did it 7, 8, 9 hours on a hop," said Gillian.

Prior to the game, the Corps of Cadets is also expected to honor fallen Officer Deriek Crouse who was killed in the line of duty on Tech's campus last December. Crouse was an Army veteran who served in the Iraq War.