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Wichita’s 'Doc' wins Pentagon approvalWichita’s 'Doc' wins Pentagon approval

A 'no' became a 'yes' with help

'Doc,' one of seven B-29s named for Snow White’s dwarfs, has hard-won approval from the Pentagon to conduct shakeout flights from McConnell Air Force Base.
The power quadrant for "Doc," the B-29 undergoing extensive restoration. Photo by Alton Marsh.

Another huge hurdle in attempts to restore and fly a Wichita-based B-29 bomber named Doc has been successfully leaped. After an initial firm refusal, the Pentagon now says the bomber can take off and return to its leased quarters at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita.

Project chief Jim Murphy said it took the influence of two four-star generals, three congressmen, and the Secretary of the Air Force to reverse an earlier “no” decision by someone in the Pentagon. Murphy did not name the author of the first refusal.

Before that the most serious challenge to Doc's future was an FAA stipulation—one not in effect for the world’s only flying B-29, FiFi—that a certificated flight engineer be used for all testing. There is only one of those, and he stays busy with FiFi, especially during the summer months.

The challenge now is to see when the Commemorative Air Force crew can come to Wichita for two hours of high-speed taxi tests, followed by a first flight. There is no definite schedule, but a guess is that the flight could occur shortly after July 4.

Previous challenges faced by the restoration project’s founder Tony Mazzolini included the U.S. Navy’s reluctance to let the bomber leave California's Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, the warbird's unexpected decrepit condition, and the constant need for funds. The public stepped forward during a Kickstarter campaign to fund the first flight. (Disclosure: The author is a contributor.)

Alton Marsh

Alton K. Marsh

Freelance journalist
Alton K. Marsh is a former senior editor of AOPA Pilot and is now a freelance journalist specializing in aviation topics.
Topics: Vintage, Warbird

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