Historic WWII Plane Returns to Bainbridge

By: WCTV Eyewitness News; Lanetra Bennett Email
By: WCTV Eyewitness News; Lanetra Bennett Email

By: Lanetra Bennett
August 22, 2014

Bainbridge, GA - In 1942, the United States Army constructed a Basic Training Air Field in Decatur County at the site that is now the County’s Industrial Park. Flight training began for World War II in August of that year with the BT-13. Because of a shortage of Pratt and Whitney engines, Vultee used the BT-13 frames and equipped them with Wright engines, creating the Vultee BT-15 (Basic Trainer-15).

On Friday, the 22nd of August, the current owner, Tom Smith, flew the 1942 Vultee BT-15 back to the site where it began its journey 72 years ago, the Bainbridge Army Air Field.

Smith says it's been well-maintained without the need for restoration. He says, the only thing that's changed he says, is the the fact the plane is on its second engine,, and it's been given a coat of paint

Smith says, "They would hon in on beacons. It was quite an adventure for them. I look at it, every time I get in it. There was a 19-year-old in the front and a 20-year-old in the back, and he was the instuctor. My wife and I are very fortunate to be the guardian of it."

Eyewitness News Reporter Lanetra Bennett got a chance to go up for a ride in the historic airplane.

The single-engine BT-15 is 3,300 pounds, has 450 horsepower, and has a 43-foot wing span.

The Decatur County administrator says theyhave the only situation with a WW II airfield that is still active, with a WW II hangar still used for aircraft storage, and a WWII BT-15 trainer that was delivered and used at the same airfield that has "flown home" in 2010 and 2014.


By: WCTV Eyewitness News
August 22, 2014

BAINBRIDGE, Ga. -- In 1942, the United States Army constructed a Basic Training Air Field in Decatur County at the site that is now the County’s Industrial Park.

Flight training began in August of that year with the BT-13. Because of a shortage of Pratt and Whitney engines, the Vultee Aircraft Corporation used the BT-13 frames and equipped them with Wright engines, creating the Vultee BT-15 (Basic Trainer-15).

Today, Tom Smith flew his 1942 Vultee BT-15 back to the site where it began its journey 72 years ago, the Bainbridge Army Air Field.


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