B-29 Doc Takes Flight

Historic Superfortress takes flight for the first time since 1956.

Doc B-29
Doc approaches for a landing during the restored B-29's first flight in more than half a century.YouTube/Doc's Friends

For the first time in 60 years, the B-29 Superfortress named Doc, which has been in restoration in Wichita, Kansas, for many years, took flight once again. There were emotional tears in the crowds of Doc's Friends volunteers and supporters who watched the massive, shiny all-aluminum World War II bomber lift off from McConnell Air Force Base early Sunday morning.

The crew had planned to fly the airplane for about 40 minutes, but an engine light cut the flight short. Doc landed only about seven minutes after its wheels left the ground. However, a Doc's Friends representative reported that there were no major issues with any of the four engines and the crew reported an "overall successful first flight."

Doc B-29
A close-up of Doc.Doc's Friends/Brett Schauf

Doc is now the second flying B-29 Superfortress, along with Fifi, which is maintained and flown by the Commemorative Air Force. Some 1,644 B-29s were built in Boeing's factory in Wichita during World War II.

This B-29 rolled off the assembly line in 1945 to join the war effort. In 1951, the Superfortress became a part of the Seven Dwarfs squadron, received the name Doc and worked on a radar calibration assignment. After a short stint as a target towing aircraft, Doc was left in the Mojave Desert near China Lake, California, and used as a bomb target. In 1987, Tony Mazzolini, who was present for the historic first flight on Sunday, found Doc and began to make plans to salvage it. The airplane was removed from the desert in 1998 and moved in 2000 to Wichita, where hundreds of volunteers, many of whom retired Boeing and Spirit Aerosystems employees, have participated in the lengthy restoration effort.

Congratulations, Doc’s Friends, on a successful first flight!