Doc, the friendly Boeing B-29 Superfortress under restoration in Wichita, Kansas, has completed a successful Kickstarter campaign, getting $146,247 for initial flight tests. The goal was $137,500.
The campaign attracted 847 backers. (Disclosure: This writer is one of them.) The largest number of contributors, 225, were in the $25 category, with the second largest, 233, in the $100 category. Five gave $10,000. The campaign ends this week, but the warbird might not fly this year.
The aircraft needs temperatures of 50 degrees Fahrenheit to run its engines and fly. If temperatures were warm enough (they weren’t Oct. 26), the aircraft could be ready for an FAA airworthiness inspection in two weeks. Following that, the U.S. Air Force at McConnell Air Force Base, where the aircraft is under restoration, must give approval to fly in and out of the base. Otherwise it would have to take off for a new home. (The aircraft is on a civilian side of the base but must use the Air Force runway for tests.) All of that could push the first flight into December, and chances of getting warm temperatures in December, January, or February are not good.
“We’re at the mercy of the weather,” said project chief Jim Murphy.
Following flight testing, the much more expensive tasks of maintenance and funding for a home base, which backers hope will be Wichita, begins. A statement on Kickstarter indicated that the airplane has enough friends that eventually all of those goals can be accomplished.