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World’s only airworthy B-29 cleared to fly

The Commemorative Air Force has received FAA clearance to resume flying the world’s only airworthy B-29 Superfortress bomber, CAF officials said.

The historical four-engine aircraft known as “FIFI” is expected to fly on July 9 after a multi-year restoration in which the airplane received four new engines. If initial test flights and post-flight inspections go as planned, the CAF will begin crew training flights at Midland International Airport in western Texas on July 12 that will be open to the public.

The CAF Airpower Museum at Midland will open at 7 a.m. Monday for visitors who want to see the pre-flight preparations at the B-29 hangar. Admission is $10 for adults with discounts for seniors, teens, and children.

FIFI was originally fitted with Wright R-3350-57AM engines which had always suffered reliability problems. The new engines are Wright R-3350-95W and -26WD engines that required extensive airframe modifications.

The B-29 was the most technologically advanced aircraft when produced during World War II; it was the world’s first pressurized bomber, the first with a computer-controlled firing system, and set numerous altitude and distance records. B-29s are best known for dropping two atomic bombs over Japan in August 1945 that ended the war.

The CAF found FIFI at a California aerial gunnery range in 1971 where it had been left outside for many years and used for target practice. CAF volunteers brought the abused airframe to Texas and began returning it to flying condition. The CAF has 9,000 members and operates 156 historical airplanes around the United States.

Dave Hirschman
Dave Hirschman
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Dave Hirschman joined AOPA in 2008. He has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates. Dave flies vintage, historical, and Experimental airplanes and specializes in tailwheel and aerobatic instruction.

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