Home for Doc Gala

An artistic, and effective, anachronism

WRITTEN BY DAVE FRANSON, PRESIDENT, WICHITA AERO CLUB | PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEFFREY MIKELL

It never looked so good! The hangar which served as the site of the Home for Doc Benefit Gala underwent a temporary "conversion" under the direction of Nicole Boles of Couture Ever After, which had the 200-plus invited guests at a loss for words. She decorated more than two dozen tables with elegant place settings surrounding an impressive lighted centerpiece. They were offset by a pair of appropriately aviation-themed bars and a dessert buffet beneath an ornate chandelier suspended from what else a silk parachute!

Period precise posers Properly attired waiters and waitresses passed hors d'oeuvres among the guests as they mingled, perused an array of impressive silent auction items displayed on tables, or posed for pictures on an elevated platform in front of the spectacularly lighted and beautifully restored B-29 Doc, which seemed to preside over the festivities from the northeast corner of the transformed hangar.

Performers including some outstanding vocalists who conjured more than passable memories of the Andrews Sisters and a big band provided entertainment that had attendees (at least those old enough to recognize or remember) recalling Harry James, Glenn Miller and Les Brown and His Band of Renown. Tony Mazzolini, who found and "rescued" Doc from the Mojave Desert 30 years ago, where it had been relegated to use as a target on a bombing range, provided background on the airplane's odyssey back to its birthplace and eventual return to the skies.

Wichita History in the Making

A 1938 Ford Deluxe sedan sat outside the open door of the Quonset Hut-style hangar. The sounds of a swing band playing "Chattanooga Choo Choo" echoed inside the vast building and drew the formally-attired crowd through its open door and through a time warp! They were transported back 70 years and the dingy aircraft maintenance site they had entered seemed transformed into a sparkling nightclub complete with ornately decorated tables, an impressive chandelier suspended from a ceiling of silk all against the backdrop of a highly polished, four-engine B-29 Superfortress!

In actuality, it was a very special occasion hosted by Spirit AeroSystems as a way to raise funds for a permanent home for the now restored and flyable B-29 Doc which was originally built only a few hundred yards away in Boeing Wichita's Plant 2 in 1944. Now one of only two flyable examples of the venerable Superfortress left, Doc will eventually be based at Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport where ground was broken in September for a new Education Center and Hangar, just a day before the Spirit-hosted gala to raise funds for its completion.

To date, Doc's Friends have raised about 80 percent of the funds needed to complete the permanent home for Doc by the fall of 2018. Spirit AeroSystems, Boeing Defense and the City of Wichita have accounted for more than half of that amount with the gala raising more than $300,000 in a single night. Dozens of other local supporters have also contributed. Donor bricks and pavers are also on sale at b-29doc.com/bricks. They'll be installed in the Education Center and Hangar's Plaza.

Photographer: Jeffrey Mikell
Custom Event Decor & Design: Couture Ever After
Gown & Tux: Vanya Designs
Models: Jonathan and Heidi Hoskins
Makeup & Hair: Damen Page Artistry
Nails: Manicure Mama Salon
Spirit Event Team: Josh Wells, Amy Williams, Mary Hensley, Tony Chavez
Edison Bulb Lighting: Le Luci Event Lighting
Speakeasy Calligraphy: Chalk A Talk
Table Linens: Ray Event Rental
Chairs: Action Party and Tent Rental
Flowers: Stems
Event Staging: Henry Helgerson Company

 

 
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