B-29 Superfortress Nears First Flight

** B-29 Doc**

Volunteers in Wichita, Kansas, who are working to restore a B-29 Superfortress named Doc have brought the massive airplane close to completion and are getting ready to return the bomber to the skies before the new year. The non-profit volunteer organization Doc's Friends is now raising money for a permanent museum to provide protection and a place to display the historical beauty to the public.

In 2000, Tony Mazzolini brought the Superfortress to Wichita, where Boeing built the airplane in 1944 as part of a series of B-29s named after Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, from the Mojave Desert where it had been parked in the 1950s.

Decades of getting beat up by target practice and the elements left the airplane in rough shape. After years of work, funds ran low and the airplane needed a permanent hangar to complete the restoration. Doc's Friends took over the restoration in early 2013 and has made great progress since then. All four engines and propellers have been installed and the airframe, control surfaces and systems are getting close to completion.

"We're definitely very close," said Jeff Turner, Doc's Friends Chairman and retired Spirit AeroSystems CEO. "But we need the entire community to rally behind Doc and help get him out of that hangar and into the air."

Once the airplane flies, it will be only the second known airworthy B-29 out of nearly 4,000 built. The Superfortress that currently flies is Fifi -- a crowd pleaser operated by the Commemorative Air Force. There are no other known B-29 airframes that have the potential to be restored for flight, Doc's Friends said in a news release.

For its efforts in World War II, which included the release of atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, that helped end the long war, the B-29 earned the number two spot on our list of the Top 100 Warbirds. Watch this video to learn more about the history of the B-29, where Doc came from, what the future plans are for the airplane and how you can help keep the project going.

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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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