Bob Rice, president of the Commemorative Air Force, has taken a position as executive director of the American Red Cross of Southwest Texas. He had been CAF president since 1992. Replacing him is Stephan C. Brown, a former Army aviator and private pilot with more than 1,800 hours logged in military and civilian aircraft. Brown brings almost 25 years of marketing and management experience to the CAF, including four years in senior management with the Experimental Aircraft Association.
In other news, CAF officials reported that Josephine “Fifi” O’Connor Agather, for whom the CAF’s B-29, “Fifi,” was named, died on Sept. 22.
In the 1960s, Victor Agather spearheaded the drive to add a B-29 to CAF’s fleet and then worked successfully to remove the “no-fly” clause from the original agreement with the Air Force. In 1974, the airplane was named “Fifi” in honor of his wife.
Currently the only airworthy B-29 in the world, “Fifi” is on static display at CAF’s headquarters in Midland, Texas, until $3 million can be raised to customize new engines for it.
The B-29 was originally fitted with Wright R-3350-57AM engines, which have had a less-than-desirable reputation since their introduction in 1944. True to that reputation, “Fifi” has experienced numerous engine problems during the 30-plus years it has been flying with the CAF. Plans are to combine R-3350-95W and R-3350-26WD engines to create customized engines for the B-29.