Aug 02, 2004

First Woman Type Rated to Fly B-25s in the CAF

Four days after Beth Jenkins became the first woman in the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) to become type rated as pilot-in-command for a B-25, she landed the B-25 Devil Dog at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2004.

"I think it's a privilege," Jenkins said about her recent accomplishment.

This is Jenkins 12th year at EAA AirVenture, and in the past three years she has copiloted the Devil Dog to the show from its home in Georgetown, Texas. There, Jenkins has owned and operated Pilot's Choice, a flight school, since 1986.

Since September 11, Pilot's Choice has faced difficulties, such as not having as many students, no longer having the capability to teach foreign students, and being down from 10 to six instructors.

Yet the flight school has seen its share of good times, training numerous pilots over the years. One student, Geni Flyn, was trained through a contract with the U. S. Air Force, becoming the first female F-16 pilot.

The Devil Dog isn't your ordinary B-25. The mechanic for the Devil Dog, Wade Castellanos, said that while people usually do not think of a B-25 as a marine vehicle, the Devil Dog was just that.

"The Navy acquired it in World War II, but wanted nothing to do with bombers, so they gave it to the Marines," Castellanos said.

"It's a part of showing kids history," Jenkins said. "So they can touch and feel it. There are not many things you can do that with."

"Its kind of an unknown, forgotten part of World War II. We are paying a tribute to all marine aviators, and this plane is paying tribute to a specific group of them," Castellanos said.

Devil Dog celebrates its 60th birthday this year in November.

"It's heavier than I've flown before, and I work hard at flying it. There's no autopilot like a lot of the planes here, so you are constantly flying it," Jenkins said.

Jenkins has held her own air show for 18 years now, in Temple, Texas, the first weekend of May.

In the future, Jenkins plans to continue flying and touring the country with her Devil Dog as a way of positively representing the CAF.