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Saturday
Jun262010

CAF B-29 'FIFI' Scheduled To Fly Again June 29, 2010

Installing 1 of 4 modified Wright R-3350's on the B-29 FIFI    photos: cafB29B24.org

 After 4 years on the ground plus a lot of hard work and financial support, the world's only flyable Boeing B-29 Superfortress, owned and operated by the Commemorative Air Force, is scheduled for a test flight on Tuesday, June 29, 2010. FIFI will be back in the air once again! The flight is expected to take place at 8:00 am at the CAF Airpower Museum in Midland, Texas. Visitors are welcome to come watch, and the museum will be opening at 7am to give interested spectators a front row seat to see pre-flight prep and the flight itself. Admission to the museum is $10 for adults, $9 for ages 13-17 and over 65, and $7 for age 5-12.

 

 FIFI first began showing up at airshows in 1975 after an extensive search and restoration project by what was known then as the Confederate Air Force. I clearly remember it was a really big deal when she first arrived at Oshkosh, and I have years of memories of this grand aircraft from WWII participating in the Warbird airshows there. My recent ride in the B-17 'Yankee Lady' has really made the historical importance of these aircraft, and the people who did battle in WWII, become so much more real to me.

 

 The work required to put FIFI back in the air centered around the need to update the huge Wright R-3350 engines. The version originally used in the airplane has always been problematic, and when metal shavings were found in the oil, it was clear that major changes would have to be made. The re-engine project built up a variation of the engine from two different versions and required modifications to the engine mounts and cowlings. Hopefully these modifications will not only get FIFI back in the air, but will make it easier to keep her there for many years to come.

 Much of the re-engine project funding was jump-started by support from Jim Cavanaugh of the Cavanaugh Flight Museum (CFM). Both the B-29 and the Consolidated B-24 Liberator operated by the CAF will be based out of the CFM in Addison, Texas for 6 months of the year, and then be on tour with CAF crews around the country the other 6 months.

 Lastly, I haven't seen any confirmed reports yet, but hopefully FIFI will be included in the large collection of aircraft scheduled to be at Oshkosh from the CAF. The EAA's "Salute to Veterans" along with 75th anniversary of both the DC-3 (C-47) and the B-17 are drawing a lot of significant historical aircraft to the best place on earth: Oshkosh : )

 

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