DOC makes housecalls

Restored B-29 is touring aviation events, open houses this summer

Written by Dave Fanson, President of the Wichita Aero Club

The Boeing B-29 “Doc” which was restored to flyable status in Wichita over the past dozen years, has begun touring the country, providing attendees at select air shows and Air Force Base open houses with a chance to see one of the two remaining flyable examples of the advanced bomber that helped end World War II.

Having flown over Wichita’s annual Riverfest on Friday, June 2 and having been the focus of an open house at the city’s Air Capital Flight Line on June 3, Doc already has a following of thousands, locally. It also made stops at the Defenders of Liberty Air Show at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana in May and Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri in June. But, it’s about to increase its exposure exponentially with a week-long visit to the world’s largest aviation event, the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture. More than half a million visitors are expected for the annual event which runs from July 24 to 30 at Wittman Airport in Oshkosh, Wisc.

Doc is a flying tribute which has been restored to honor previous generations, educate current and future generations and connect the world to the rich heritage of aviation. It will be based in Wichita at a hangar that is expected to begin construction at Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport in the near future, and will serve as a link to Wichita’s proud aviation heritage, and a platform for emphasizing STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Math — related topics and impact, too.

More than 1,000 volunteers and many others donated more than 350,000 hours of their time and tens-of-thousands-of-dollars to restore Doc, one of 1,644 B-29s built in Wichita.

The airplane originally rolled out of Boeing’s Plant 2 in Wichita in 1944 and joined the six other “dwarfs” in the “Snow White Squadron.” After a few years of post-war service, Doc was towed unceremoniously to a Navy bombing range in the Mojave Desert, where it stayed until 1987. Returned to its birthplace in the “Air Capital” by a group headed by Tony Mazzolini, who had served as a Flight Engineer on a B-29 during his service in the Air Force, Doc underwent 18 years of restoration before returning to the skies on July 17, 2016.

Doc will be a featured attraction at the World’s Largest Air Show, EAA AirVenture.

Now that it’s back in the air, Doc will represent Wichita and the dedicated volunteers who restored it throughout the U.S. As one of only two flyable B-29s in the world, it will tour the country and offer millions a reminder of the commitment, ingenuity and patriotism that helped make Wichita the “Air Capital of the World.” For more information on how you can contribute to the construction of Doc’s home, contact Doc’s Friends, a 501(c)3 charitable organization, at b-29doc.com.

Dave Franson is president of the Wichita Aero Club and a longtime aerospace executive. He has held senior executive positions in public relations and communications at Cessna, Bombardier Learjet and AlliedSignal Aerospace (now Honeywell) and served as vice president of meetings and membership at the National Business Aviation Association, where he was in charge of the world's largest business aviation gathering in the early '90s.

 
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