B-25 Apache Princess dwells in the land of the Seminoles

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'Apache Princess' artwork. Photo: John Stemple

‘Apache Princess’ artwork.
Photo: John Stemple

Native Americans gather annually at the “Spirit of the Buffalo Pow Wow” in Auburndale, Fla. Although “she” does not attend the periodic festivities, Apache Princess will never be far away because the North American B-25J “Mitchell” medium bomber has settled in the land of the Seminoles. Fantasy of Flight in Polk City is now her home.

Native Americans perform traditional dances in Auburndale. Photo: John Stemple

Native Americans perform traditional dances in Auburndale.
Photo: John Stemple

Apache Princess’ surroundings contain an underlying legacy of the Seminole peoples who once populated the area. In fact, she is celebrating the 70 years of her existence not far from the site of legendary Chief Cufcowellax’s battle with a predatory alligator that was menacing his tribe. Also, a few miles distant is where, in 1840, Chief “Wild Cat” peaceably surrendered to the U.S. Army and agreed to relocate his Seminoles to the Indian Territory out West. Furthermore, Florida-born singer-songwriter John Anderson’s haunting 1992 hit song Seminole Wind is often on the local Country radio station’s playlist.

Native American dancers perform traditional dances in Auburndale.Photo: John Stemple

Native American dancers perform traditional dances in Auburndale.
Photo: John Stemple

Having been “born” at a North American Aviation factory in 1943, Apache Princess has aged well. The aeroplane is as resplendent in advanced age as in her youth. Elyse Umemoto, Miss Washington 2007 and a member of the Yakama tribe, was the first woman of Native American heritage to hold the title. Yet, in the eyes of aviation aficionados the elder Apache Princess remains a beauty queen of a different sort. Specifically, the iconic plane represents such memorable missions as the 1942 Doolittle Raid on Japan.

Apache Princess sits on the tarmac.Photo: John Stemple

Apache Princess sits on the tarmac.
Photo: John Stemple

Although Apache Princess will not be attending the cultural celebration in Auburndale, she will not be alone at Fantasy of Flight. In addition to the always present Great Spirit (supreme being), an immaculate Bell 47G helicopter in military H-13 “Sioux” livery and a Curtiss TP-40N “Warhawk” fighter trainer keep her company.

Another view of Apache Princess.Photo: John Stemple

Another view of Apache Princess.
Photo: John Stemple

Fantasy of Flight is at 1400 Broadway Boulevard Southeast in Polk City, Fla. The attraction’s telephone number is (863) 984-3500.

Notably, the “Spirit of the Buffalo Pow Wow” takes place over the course of one or two weekends each January. The display and ceremonial grounds are at 1052 U.S. Highway 92 West in Auburndale, Fla. For more information about the Pow Wow, one may telephone (863) 665-0062.

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