|B-29 FIFI is back in the air following a four-year renovation. (Photo by Scott Slocum)
Flying again after a four-year renovation, the world's only airworthy Boeing B-29 Superfortress, FIFI, plans a much-anticipated appearance at EAA AirVenture 2011, the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) confirmed this week. Part of CAF's B-29/B-24 Squadron based in Addison, Texas, FIFI will arrive at Wittman Regional Airport Tuesday, July 26, and stay for the duration, including flying in Friday's air show, July 29, as part of the day-long veterans salute. This will be FIFI's first appearance since 1995.
"The addition of the B-29 to the lineup at EAA AirVenture 2011 further solidifies Oshkosh as the greatest aviation gathering point in the world," said Tom Poberezny, EAA and AirVenture chairman. "This legendary warbird represents the highest American bomber technology during World War II, and will be an integral piece of the festivities honoring those who served and sacrificed for the freedom we enjoy today."
Joining FIFI will be country music star and pilot Aaron Tippin, who will perform on Saturday evening, July 30, as part of CAF's "Red, White & Loud Tour." The concert will precede the widely popular Night Air Show and Daher-Socata Fireworks, capping a day filled with memorable attractions.
"We are thrilled to bring the CAF's 'Red, White & Loud Tour' to EAA AirVenture," said Stephan Brown, CAF president/CEO. "Aaron Tippin is a great supporter of our American troops and veterans, as well as the CAF and what we stand for, honoring American military aviation through flight, exhibition, and remembrance. We are excited to celebrate America's freedom through song and the roaring radial engines of the world's only flying B-29 at one of the greatest aviation events."
Over the past four years, FIFI was refitted with custom-built engines - combining Wright R-3350-95W and R-3350-26WD powerplants - to replace the Wright R-3350-57AM engine in place since the early 1970s. The refit required reworking the engine mounts and some of the engine cowling. Mechanical difficulties prevented FIFI from making scheduled visits to AirVenture in 2005 and 2006.
The B-29 first flew in 1942 and began active service in 1944. It is perhaps best known as the aircraft from which the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945. It was designed as a replacement for B-17s and B-24s, capable of longer-range missions and greater bomb loads. The B-29 was also used in the Korean War in the early 1950s and was a staple of the U.S. Air Force until jet bombers began to appear in the late 1950s.
FIFI was rescued from use as a ground target for weapons tests in the 1960s and first flown by the CAF in 1971. The B-29 was christened FIFI in 1974 in honor of the wife of Col. Victor N. Agather, who had been on the wartime development team for the aircraft and was personally committed and involved with the airplane's restoration in the early 1970s.
Collecting, restoring and flying vintage historical aircraft for more than half a century, the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) ranks as one of the largest private air forces in the world. A non-profit educational association, the CAF has more than 8,000 members and a fleet of more than 150 airplanes distributed throughout the country to 73 units located in 27 states for care and operation. For more information, click here.