Last week, the world's only flyable B-29 Superfortress, operated by the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) lifted off the runway at Midland, Texas. It was the first flight for FIFI since 2004, and followed not only a lengthy restoration, but also a prolonged wrangle over official permission from the FAA. The 9 a.m. flight lasted just under 40 minutes, followed by the first public flight last Saturday. Stephan Brown, president of the CAF said last Thursday, "It is an emotional day for our volunteer-members and staff. There were more than a few tears of joy shed by those who have worked over these past few years to see FIFI fly again." The famous B-29 will continue its shakedown flights before taking part in the "Red, White and Loud" air tour, starting with the Rocky Mountain Fly-in in Denver Aug. 28-29. First added to the CAF fleet in 1971, FIFI has been ready to fly for several weeks, but the FAA had concerns over the CAF's "required crew list." CAF maintained that eight crewmembers were necessary for safe flight, while the FAA would recognize only six. At EAA AirVenture, Brown told Flying the two extra crewmembers were fire spotters, watching the engines from their post in the rear fuselage. "The crew up front would not be able to see if an engine were on fire," he said. When not on tour, FIFI can be seen at the CAF Airpower Museum at Midland International Airport. FIFI is also scheduled to appear at next summer's EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. For more information, go to www.commemorativeairforce.org.
B-29 FIFI Takes to the Air Again