B-29 Doc’s Engines Come Back to Life

B-29 Doc (Photos: Doc’s Friends &
Brett Schauf with Visual Media Group, LLC.)

Doc's Friends have a reason to cheer once again as the Wichita, Kansas-based volunteer crew has reached the point of engine start in the monumental task of returning the massive B-29 bomber to the skies. The first engine run was conducted days ago at the McConnell Air Force Base on the east side of the city.

Doc's Friends' operations manager TJ Norman was in the pilot's seat. In the copilot's seat was Tony Mazzolini, the man who found Doc in the Mojave Desert in 1987 and brought the bomber to Wichita in 2000. The video below shows Mazzolini's reaction as the first Wright R-3350 radial engine spins to life. Behind Norman and Mazzolini, in the flight engineer's seat, was Rick Garvis from the Commemorative Air Force, who is the crew chief for the only currently flying B-29 — Fifi. "The Fifi crew has been a tremendous help," said Jim Murphy, program manager for Doc, as he narrated the first engine start.

Murphy said the first engine start was a success with all four engines and all systems performing as expected. The next step for Doc is to have an FAA inspection followed by some additional pre-flight testing before the team can reach the ultimate goal of the restoration — the first flight.

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Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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