Country music star Aaron Tippin and the Commemorative Air Force’s B-29 “FIFI” will launch the “Red, White & Loud Tour” next month at the Colorado Sport International Air Show.
The world’s only flight-worthy Boeing B-29 Superfortress, FIFI was just cleared this week by the FAA to begin flight testing after the installation of new engines. Grounded since 2006, the B-29 was re-engined thanks to a $1.2 million donation from CAF member Jim Cavanaugh, founder of the Cavanaugh Flight Museum in Addison, Texas, Stephan Brown, CAF president, said on the second day of AirVenture in Oshkosh.
The Colorado show, slated for Aug. 28-29, will be the first stop on the six to eight air show tour, which will feature Tippin in concert with FIFI in the background. Tippin, an avid pilot and aircraft owner, also will be a co-pilot on the B-29. At each stop of the tour, FIFI will be available for guided tours and the public will also have an opportunity to purchase a ride for $995 for a seat in the front near the cockpit or $695 for a seat in the back. For more information on rides, go to CAFB29B24.org.
“Denver is honored to host the return of the CAF B-29 FIFI to the skies with the CAF’s Red, White & Loud Tour starring Aaron Tippin and the B-29 FIFI,” said Jim Cimiluca, president of Colorado Sport Aviation, Inc., which puts on the Colorado air show. “We’re planning a truly special celebration for both the aviation community and the general public to be a part of this historic event.”
Part of the festivities include a celebrity golf tournament, in which Tippin will play, added Darci Wert, a spokeswoman for the air show.
The return to the skies for FIFI follows four “grueling” years of work by volunteers, according to the CAF’s Brown, who explained that the B-29 was grounded in 2006 due to recurring engine trouble. She has been refitted with new custom built engines that are a combination of the R-3350-95W and R-3350-26WD engines.
“The Commemorative Air Force is unique — we aren’t like other museums,” said Brown. “We start our engines, we fly our airplanes and we get loud, taking history to the public, not waiting for them to come to us. The Red, White and Loud Tour is an exciting opportunity for the CAF to continue doing what we do best, educating and reminding Americans of the cost of our freedom.”
Tippin, who was named national spokesman for CAF last year, soloed on his 16th birthday. Raised a “ramp rat,” he became a commercial multi-engine instrument-rated pilot by the age of 18 and is also helicopter-qualified. A certified aircraft and power plant mechanic, he owns a 1941 Stearman, a 1946 J3 Cub and 1959 Helio Curior.
Over the past two decades, he has recorded 13 CDs and has had more than 30 singles on the charts. He also performs regularly for the troops and his songs are often used as background music for performances by the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels.