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.
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.)