April 10, 2013
By Julie Summers Walker
Disabled American Veterans staff Lynn May, Mike Jones, and Calvin Peacock join Panchito owner Larry Kelley (center) and pilot Matt Sager with DAV’s Kerry Ward (right) in front of the iconic World War II bomber.
Larry Kelley, owner and pilot of Panchito, a B-25J Mitchell bomber that he has lovingly restored and maintains, has joined forces with the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Flight Team to spread the message to American veterans that “they are not alone.”
“I saw that the DAV was at sports events and NASCAR races but realized that they needed to be at airshows,” Kelley said. “Airshows attract the patriotic people who support the mission of the DAV.”
So he contacted the DAV and helped form a flight team, which travels across the country to raise awareness of the DAV mission. Panchito is a big draw. The B-25 gained notoriety in the famed Doolittle Raid over Tokyo 71 years ago.
Lynn May, event coordinator for the DAV, says many veterans are unaware of the services of the DAV, especially veterans of recent conflicts. “We are flying to raise awareness,” she said. “These are America’s real heroes—the veterans.”
DAV represents more than 1.2 million disabled veterans and is a nonprofit organization founded in 1920.
“The DAV’s services are just as relevant today as they were when it was formed in 1920,” Kelley said.
AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.
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