20 Years of Hard Work and Super Fortress “Doc” Flies!

The above video is only 4:30 minutes long, but the full 2 hour video can be seen down below.

Thanks again to our Aviation News scout, Charlie Overstreet, of El Paso, we have the latest good news about only the second WWII B-29 Superfortress to finally make it back up into the wild blue yonder. The first ship, “FIFI,” to be successfully restored to flying status is owned and operated by the Commemorative Air Force out of Ft. Worth, Texas.

“Doc” took successfully to the skies this past weekend, on July 17th.  The news was first announced by on of our sister aviation historical organizations, WARBIRDSNEWSCharlie spent many, many combat hours piloting the B-29’s successor jet bombers, the B-47 and famous B-52 Transcontinental heavy SAC fortresses.

The B-29 was our first heavy bomber to be fully pressurized (as are the cabins in modern jet airliners) in all the crew’s compartments. It was powered with four large reciprocating radial engines of 2,200 HP each that enabled it to fly at almost 32,000′ altitude and cruise as fast as 365 MPH to targets as distant as 3,000 miles, having a then extraordinary non-stop range of almost 6,000 miles!

The below video of this historic event is almost 2 hours long, for those of you who have and would like to take the time to view the whole story of this magnificent restoration project.

In case you don’t know an interesting New Mexico twist to this famous bomber, which was the one chosen to drop the first of only two nuclear bombs ever released in battle, the “Enola Gay,” and which was piloted by Colonel Paul Tibbets, here it is:

In the final years of WWII, when the B-29 was first put into front line duty (1944), it quickly garnered itself, among the pilots assigned to fly the juggernaut, a reputation for being too dangerous, touchy, difficult to fly and unreliable a bomber.  In order to combat this almost “blue flu” among the aircraft’s pilots, Colonel Tibbets had a novel idea arising from the fact that all his pilots were men and were well known to be macho aviators.

Accordingly, Tibbets recruited two women pilots from the then still active WASP organization to fly to the B-29 bases and to personally demonstrate the ship’s truly excellent handling characteristics.  These two women who so quickly broke the male pilots’ reluctance to fly the craft were Dora Dougherty (who was a friend and once-instructor of this writer) and Dorothea Moorman.  Both these ladies were trained by Tibbets to become highly skilled B-29 pilots at Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB).  If these two women proved they could do such a superb job of flying the new bomber – – – then the men surely could!  Make sure to look into this story of how these two brave women pilots shamed their male counterparts into flying the B-29’s – and without complaining!

This fascinating story of using cultural psychology to motivate his once reluctant male pilots was beautifully documented some years ago by PBS on its “AMERICAN EXPERIENCE,” right here.

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