Airplanista Aviation Magazine feature story: FIFI to appear at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2011

10:37 PM

This aviation magazine article was originally published in the July, 2011 issue of Airplanista Magazine. You can view the original story in our digital aviation magazine here.

First visit since 1995 for world’s only airworthy B-29 Superfortress

By EAA Communications staff

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. Part of the Commemorative Air Force’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 engines 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.

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