Commemorative Air Force congratulates Doc’s Friends on successful first flight
The Commemorative Air Force’s (CAF) iconic Boeing B-29 Superfortress FIFI – the only airworthy B-29 Superfortress for over 40 years – will no longer be alone in the sky. The restoration group Doc’s Friends successfully flew their B-29 Sunday, July 17, at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kan, after their aircraft restoration crew spent 16 years restoring the airplane. Doc volunteers worked side by side with Commemorative Air Force B-29 squadron volunteers and employees the past few years to help prepare for Doc’s first flight. The CAF’s mechanical expertise and years of highly skilled and safe B-29 operation have been important to Doc’s success.
“We are proud to welcome Doc as the second flyable B-29 Superfortress. Doc’s volunteers have toiled for many years to see their vision take flight and we were proud to play a small part in contributing to their successful first flight. Congratulations to all of Doc’s volunteers and contributors on a job well done. The CAF stands ready to help in any way possible and we look forward to the day when FIFI and Doc will fly together!” CAF President Stephan C. Brown said.
B-29 crew chief Rick Garvis and squadron maintenance officer Don Obreiter provided assistance to the Doc crew. Garvis and Doc restoration operations supervisor T.J. Norman and project manager Jim Murphy established a B-29 collective between FIFI and Doc crews and Rick and Don continue to provide technical help as needed. In addition to helping set up and prep the engines and perform their first engine run, CAF personnel also played a role in the organization’s effort to get their new Approved Aircraft and Inspection Program (AAIP) approved by the FAA. The flight crew aboard Doc Sunday was comprised of CAF B-29 flight crew members. Members of future Doc flight crews have attended the CAF’s B-29 squadron’s ground school the past 3 years to prepare for training in the aircraft.
The crew captured in the post-dawn light this morning include highly experienced CAF personnel who all have time on FIFI. They include Charlie Tilghman (pilot), David Oliver (co-pilot), John Schauer (flight engineer) , Rick Garvis (crew chief - secondary flight engineer), Don Obreite (left scanner) and Glenn Mount (right scanner). Doc’s Friends personnel also took part, TJ Norman (aft scanner)
The collaboration with Doc has also been beneficial to the B-29 Squadron. Doc volunteers have helped the B-29 squadron on more than one occasion through the exchange of aircraft parts and members of both crews have traveled to help work on both airplanes.