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'Doc' awarded FAA airworthiness certificateDoc awarded FAA airworthiness certificate

B-29 can taxi, but flight still months away

Wichita’s Doc, the B-29 bomber brought back to life over many years by volunteers in a hangar across from McConnell Air Force Base, now has its FAA airworthiness certificate after three months of inspections and has done slow taxi tests. A flight is still a month or more away.
FAA gives 'Doc' its airworthiness certificate.

Next must come approval from McConnell Air Force Base for medium and high-speed taxi tests on the U.S. Air Force runway. Once that permission is in hand, the Pentagon must then approve multiple flights from the air base in southern Wichita. The way the military rule reads now, Doc would be allowed only one takeoff and must go elsewhere and never return. Pentagon permission is needed to make multiple landings. At that point high-speed taxi tests can begin followed by a first takeoff.

FAA requirements are for 20 hours of flight and 15 landings within 300 miles of the home base. Eventually it is hoped the home base will be Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport, but for now its home is McConnell. Therein lies the problem.

To do the tests, the FAA is requiring a certified flight engineer, a restriction not imposed on the other flying B-29 bomber, Fifi. Fifi has the only certified flight engineer available in the nation and can approve others, unlike Doc. The certified flight engineer is unavailable for several months. Using Fifi’s crew is not the problem; the first pilots will be those usually flying Fifi.

It is the Wichita group Friends of Doc’s understanding that the same engineer must be used on all the 20 hours of flights. Thus it does little good to have just one flight, even if it is the first.

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: Warbird

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