The coronavirus didn’t stop the Delaware Aviation Museum from awarding one lucky pilot a second-in-command type rating package on April 1 to celebrate the museum’s fifth anniversary.
Homer "Tom" Womack of Grayson, Kentucky, will earn an SIC rating in the North American B–25 Mitchell Panchito, owned and operated by the museum based in Georgetown, Delaware.
“Our present conditions nationally and across the world really changed our plan,” said Larry Kelley, owner of the museum and Panchito, who announced the winner via Facebook Live. “We’re all divided by social distancing that is so prevalent today, we have to protect ourselves and protect everyone else from this coronavirus.” Kelley stressed that the drawing was held with a small number of staff who maintained at least the recommended six feet of distance. A pharmacist, Kelley also took the opportunity of the live broadcast to urge viewers to consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for the most accurate information about the spread of the coronavirus.
“None of us want to continue to spread this, and we want to get past this,” Kelley said before drawing the winning names. In addition to Womack, the museum awarded second, third, and runner-up prizes to pilots from across the United States and one winner from the West Indies.
AOPA Editor in Chief Tom Haines completed the B–25 SIC type rating in 2015. He described Panchito as a difficult airplane to fly and almost impossible to taxi, but said he experienced a new level of respect and admiration for members of the Greatest Generation “who climbed aboard these mechanical marvels and launched across oceans and continents with the most basic of navigation gear, many of them never to return home.”
Delaware Aviation Museum offsets the costs of maintaining and exhibiting its aircraft by offering pilot-in-command and SIC ratings, orientation flights, and B–25 ground school sessions.