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"FiFi" ... The One Remaining B-29 Still Flying

A total of 3,970 of the mighty B-29 Superfortress bombers were built during production.

Today, only a few of the Superfortresses have been preserved, restored, and put on static display, such as those at the Udvar-Hazy Center, the Museum of the U.S. Air Force, Pima Air & Space Museum, and Castle Air Museum.

A total of about 22 complete B-29 airframes are currently on display in the United States. see complete list of B-29 surviving aircraft

The only B-29 that continues to fly is "FiFi", maintained and operated by the B-29/B-24 Wing of the Commemorative Air Force. A second aircraft, "Doc", is still being prepared for a return to flight status (see below).

Early B-29 History and Background

Built in July 1945 at the Boeing factory in Renton, Washington, as AF S/N 44-62070, the plane went straight from the factory to a training squadron, not combat.

Modified to a TB-29A standard, it served as an administrative aircraft before being placed in "desert storage". It was returned to active duty in 1953.

B-29 Superfortress "FiFi"
B-29 Superfortress "FiFi"
Photo by the PlanesOfThePast staff

Following her retirement in 1958, 44-62070 (part of a group of 36 B-29s) was placed at the US Navy Naval Weapons Center and bombing range at China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, in Muroc Dry Lake, California.

The CAF Seeks a B-29

In the early 1970s, the Confederate Air Force (CAF) began a search for a flyable B-29. One was located in 1971 at China Lake, and after long discussions with the Air Force and Navy, led by Dallas businessman and WWII Army Air Force veteran Vic N. Agather, the plane was rescued from the scrap yard. Ownership passed to the CAF on March 23, 1971.

The Flight to Harlingen

A CAF maintenance team arrived at China Lake soon thereafter, and in just nine weeks, with the help of more CAF volunteers, restored all systems and replaced fuel, oil and hydraulic hoses.

"FiFi" registered as NX529B
"FiFi" registered as NX529B
Photo by the PlanesOfThePast staff

The restoration process involved cannibalizing parts from other B-29s at China Lake, installing instruments, having new window bubbles made and restoring controls to working order. After the CAF technicians ran the engines, tested propellers and landing gear, the B-29 was ready to fly again.

62070 took to the air on August 3, 1971, and flew 1,250 miles to its new home in Harlingen, Texas. The pilot of that historic and memorable flight was Randy Sohn.

Christening as "FiFi"

After three years of restoration, the B-29 was christened "FiFi" in honor of Agather's wife, Josephine “Fifi” O’Connor Agather, in late 1974. The plane toured with the CAF for years thereafter.

Another Restoration and New Engines in 2010

B-29 Superfortress "FiFi"
"Mitzi" engine on B-29 Superfortress "FiFi"
Photo by the PlanesOfThePast staff

In 2006, a decision was made by the CAF to ground "FiFI" due to continuing mechanical problems. After a $3 million dollar restoration project was completed, including new engines, Fifi flew again on August 5, 2010.

Her new engines were built from engine sections from old C-119 cargo planes and single-engine Douglas Skyraiders.

Each engine is christened on its cowling, for four Hollywood actresses: Ingrid, Rita, Betty, and Mitzi (see photo to the right).

"FiFi" Today

Today, Vic Agather's son Neil Agather is the B-29/B-24 Squadron Leader of the now renamed Commemorative Air Force.

"FiFi" is now registered as NX529B, and maintains an active tour schedule, available on the B-29/B-24 Wing website.

Cavanaugh Flight Museum, Addison, TX
Cavanaugh Flight Museum, Addison, TX
Photo by the PlanesOfThePast staff

She resides at the Cavanaugh Air Museum in Addison (Dallas), Texas when she is not on tour.

On the last stop on its 2012 tour, in Midland, Texas, FiFi experienced problems with one engine. During its regular winter maintenance period, the engine was repaired at Midland, and was flown back to Addison in mid-January, 2013.

A funding effort is underway to cover the cost of the engine repair, and the cost of purchasing a spare engine. For details or to make a donation, please visit www.keepfififlying.org

FiFi Tour Schedule for 2014

FiFi is appearing at numerous air shows around the United States in 2014. FiFi is often joined at these appearances by other historic aircraft from the Commemorative Air Force, other museums, and partner aviation organizations. Consult the website of the B-29/B-24 Wing of the CAF for details and dates.

Doc: A Second B-29 to Return to Flight Status?

Work has also been underway for several years to return a second B-29 to flying status.

B-29 Superfortress "Doc" at McConnell AFB Open House
B-29 Superfortress "Doc" at McConnell AFB Open House

The Superfortress known as "Doc" Serial Number 44-69972 has had extensive restoration done on it by volunteers at the Boeing plant in Wichita, Kansas where it was originally built.

"Doc" was one of a squadron of eight planes named as one of the dwarfs from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs story.

After the Korean War, it was flown to China Lake, California, for use as a bombing target. It became part of the United States Aviation Museum, Inyokern, CA, from 1998 - 2000.

It was later disassembled and moved by truck in March 2007 to the Kansas Aviation Museum for restoration.

In 2013 it was announced that a new non-profit group, Doc’s Friends, had taken ownership of the airplane and will support the effort to refurbish the vintage airplane. The airplane has been moved from a storage hangar to active hangar space donated by Boeing where volunteers are resuming restoration work.

Current plans call for Doc to take to the air again in late 2014.

Other Surviving B-29 Superfortress Aircraft

click to see a complete list of surviving B-29s, their names, serial numbers, and locations

 

Boeing B-29 Superfortress "FiFI" arrives at Pounds Regional Airport in Tyler Texas, September 2012
(YouTube video by the PlanesOfThePast staff)


Photographs of the B-29 Superfortress "FiFi"

B-29 "FiFi" of the Commemorative Air Force
B-29 "FiFi" of the Commemorative Air Force
B-29 Superfortress "FiFi" ... front fuselage view
B-29 Superfortress "FiFi" ... front fuselage view
B-29 "FiFi" of the Commemorative Air Force, with CAF flag and nose art
B-29 "FiFi" of the Commemorative Air Force, with CAF flag and nose art
Interior cockpit of B-29 "FiFi" of the Commemorative Air Force
Interior cockpit of B-29 "FiFi" of the Commemorative Air Force
B-29 "FiFi" of the Commemorative Air Force, with CAF flag and American flag waving from cockpit
B-29 "FiFi" of the Commemorative Air Force, with CAF flag and American flag waving from cockpit
B-29 "FiFi" engine ... "Mitzi"
B-29 "FiFi" engine ... "Mitzi"
Tail section of B-29 "FiFi" showing the Commemorative Air Force logo
Tail section of B-29 "FiFi" showing the Commemorative Air Force logo
Tail section of B-29 "FiFi" showing the rear cannons
Tail section of B-29 "FiFi" showing the rear cannons
B-29 Superfortress NX529B of the Commemorative Air Force
B-29 Superfortress NX529B of the Commemorative Air Force

For More Information About FiFi and Tour Schedules

Visit the website operated by the B-29/B-24 Wing of the Commemorative Air Force

More about the B-29

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