The Commemorative Air Force’s (CAF) famous Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber, FIFI — the only remaining flying example of the aircraft in the world — returned to the sky Saturday, Jan. 13, and flew to her home base in Addison, Texas.
The flight crew arrived in Midland, Texas, and conducted a successful maintenance flight followed by the one and a half hour trip, according to CAF officials, who note it was FIFI’s first flight since October 2012.
The B-29 experienced trouble with the number two engine and returned safely to the ground during a routine photo mission at the conclusion of AIRSHO. The B-29 is equipped with four radial engines, which are needed to power the massive aircraft. It was determined the number two engine would need major repairs and therefore the aircraft was grounded. For three months maintenance crews worked to repair the engine and get this historic aircraft flying again as quickly as possible.
“It’s all the difference in the world seeing it fly instead of in a museum,” said Preston McPhail, the 70-year-old son of a former B-29 mechanic. “You can smell the exhaust from the engines.”
And for today’s children, FIFI brings a history lesson to life.
“It’s hard not to cry, it’s real emotional. I’m happy these guys are keeping them flying,” said Melanie Skinner, who brought her 8-year-old niece to see the B-29 in Lexington, Ky. Skinner went on to say “My niece is a child of the millennium. (To her) World War II is ancient history. To be able to touch them, to feel them, to hear them, that’s what history is all about.”
A fundraising campaign was launched in November with a goal of raising $200,000 to repair the engine and purchase a replacement. Currently the campaign has raised just over $105,000 to get FIFI flying again, but is still short $95,000 to purchase a fifth engine, a spare, which will ensure continuous future operation and flight, CAF officials said.
For more information: KeepFIFIFlying.org