The Liberty Foundation has announced the acquisition of the famous B-25 “Executive Sweet” from the American Aeronautical Foundation (AAF). This news has been kept fairly under wraps, as the foundation has worked to get the aircraft ready to tour in 2024. Upon her arrival at the Liberty Foundation, it was decided that a complete inspection of all systems and components was necessary. This inspection led to the restoration of all flight control surfaces, refurbishment of fuel tanks, and painting of the airframe.
“We were honored to be selected as the aircraft’s new home and entrusted with keeping this amazing aircraft flying for the public. It has been quite a journey.” Said Executive Director Ray Fowler.
B-25 S/N 44-30801 was manufactured by North American Aviation in Kansas City, KS, and delivered to the USAAF on February 27, 1945. Following her military duty, she entered civil service in September 1959. After a few short years as a crop sprayer, she was acquired by a company named Filmways, Inc. in Hollywood, CA, and used as a lead aircraft in the film “Catch-22″. During the filming, she was painted with the nose art and markings “Vestal Virgin”. Following her film career, she was purchased in 1972 by a gentleman named Mr. Ed Schnepf who ran the now well-known Challenge Publications. It was Mr. Schnepf’s mission to restore her back to a wartime “J-Model” appearance and he gave her the now-famous and well-known name, “Executive Sweet”.
In 1982, Schnepf’s Challenge Publications donated the B-25 to the American Aeronautical Foundation Museum at Camarillo, California which operated the aircraft through 2020. Over many years, the AAF has flown “Executive Sweet” at aviation events, in over a dozen major films, numerous TV shows, and commercials. It is only due to the unfortunate economic downturn of 2020 that forced the AAF’s decision to park the aircraft and consider a new home.
For the paint, the foundation was offered a gracious sponsorship by Delta Air Lines, Inc. and Landlocked Aviation to repaint the aircraft, which has just been completed this month. Now sporting new “pinup” nose art and livery, she now represents the 321st Bomb Group & 445th Bomb Squadron of the Mediterranean Theater of Operation. Her “13” tail number depicts a B-25 which flew 137 combat missions with the 445th BS, but she continues her legacy as “Executive Sweet”. Famed nose art artist Chad Hill, owner of Django Studios was chosen to create and paint the new nose art.
“While the American Aeronautical Foundation Museum may have re-homed the B-25 to the Liberty Foundation, its members have all pledged to continue supporting her flying activities and we welcome them as a family. And the aircraft’s donation couldn’t have come at a better time. Now that the world is finally starting to move forward, we hope Liberty will be back on tour next year. “ continued Ray Fowler.
“Executive Sweet” will be a very important part of the Liberty Foundation’s educational outreach and will help generate revenue much needed in the restoration of the B-17 “Liberty Belle”.
The Liberty Foundation’s founder, Mr. Don Brooks has kept an unwavering commitment to continuing the foundation’s important mission, even with the recent struggles encountered by many warbird operators during the last several years. Through the almost complete loss of the B-17 “Liberty Belle”, Mr. Brooks has funded all of the foundation’s shortfalls, including the B-17’s rebuild.
“As we spin back up for next year’s tour, we hope those who have flown with us or supported us in the past financially will do so again. It would really help! In the meantime, we hope to land the B-25 in your city soon. We are dedicated to sharing this extraordinary machine with the public for years to come.” concluded Ray Fowler.