Restored B-29 expected to fly this summer

By Dan Catchpole

A vintage Boeing B-29 Superfortress undergoing restoration could take to the skies as soon as this summer, volunteers for the project told The Wichita Eagle.

That would make the bomber, nicknamed “Doc,” only one of two B-29s in flying condition.

Nearly 4,000 of the bombers were built during and just after World War II, but currently only one is in flying condition. More than 20 are on display at various museums, mostly in the U.S. The preserved planes include the most famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) B-29, the Enola Gay, which dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945.

As The Wichita Eagle’s Molly McMillin noted, “The B-29 was the first bomber to have a pressurized crew compartment, remote-controlled guns and advanced radar for bombing and navigation.”

Restoration of “Doc” started in 2000, and volunteers expect it will cost $7 million to $9 million to return it to flying condition and get a permanent hangar for it.

A group called Doc’s Friends is handling the project. The group’s chairman, Jeff Turner, is the former CEO of Spirit AeroSystems, which was created when Boeing Commercial Airplanes sold its Wichita operations. Spirit produces 737 fuselages, parts of 787 fuselages and cockpits for many Boeing airplanes.

Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; dcatchpole@heraldnet.com.