"FiFi" ... The First Remaining B-29 to Return to Flight

A total of 3,970 of the mighty B-29 Superfortress bombers were built during production.

Today, only a few of the Superfortresses have been preserved, restored, and put on static display, such as those at the Udvar-Hazy Center, the Museum of the U.S. Air Force, Pima Air & Space Museum, and Castle Air Museum.

A total of about 22 complete B-29 airframes are currently on display in the United States. see a complete list of the surviving B-29 planes

Only two B-29s continue to fly, including "FiFi", maintained and operated by the B-29/B-24 Wing of the Commemorative Air Force. A second aircraft, "Doc", returned to flight status in July 0f 2016.

Early B-29 History and Background

Built in July 1945 at the Boeing factory in Renton, Washington, as AF S/N 44-62070, the plane went straight from the factory to a training squadron, not combat.

Modified to a TB-29A standard, it served as an administrative aircraft before being placed in "desert storage". It was returned to active duty in 1953.

B-29 Superfortress "FiFi"
B-29 Superfortress "FiFi" (Staff photo)

Following her retirement in 1958, 44-62070 (part of a group of 36 B-29s) was placed at the US Navy Naval Weapons Center and bombing range at China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, in Muroc Dry Lake, California.

The CAF Seeks a B-29

In the early 1970s, the Confederate Air Force (CAF) began a search for a flyable B-29. One was located in 1971 at China Lake, and after long discussions with the Air Force and Navy, led by Dallas businessman and WWII Army Air Force veteran Vic N. Agather, the plane was rescued from the scrap yard. Ownership passed to the CAF on March 23, 1971.

The Flight to Harlingen

A CAF maintenance team arrived at China Lake soon thereafter, and in just nine weeks, with the help of more CAF volunteers, restored all systems and replaced fuel, oil and hydraulic hoses.

"FiFi" registered as NX529B
"FiFi" registered as NX529B (Staff photo)

The restoration process involved cannibalizing parts from other B-29s at China Lake, installing instruments, having new window bubbles made and restoring controls to working order. After the CAF technicians ran the engines, tested propellers and landing gear, the B-29 was ready to fly again.

62070 took to the air on August 3, 1971, and flew 1,250 miles to its new home in Harlingen, Texas. The pilot of that historic and memorable flight was Randy Sohn.

Christening as "FiFi"

After three years of restoration, the B-29 was christened "FiFi" in honor of Agather's wife, Josephine “Fifi” O’Connor Agather, in late 1974. The plane toured with the CAF for years thereafter.


Another Restoration and New Engines in 2010

B-29 Superfortress "FiFi"
"Mitzi" engine on B-29 Superfortress "FiFi" (Staff photo)

In 2006, a decision was made by the CAF to ground "FiFI" due to continuing mechanical problems. After a $3 million dollar restoration project was completed, including new engines, Fifi flew again on August 5, 2010.

Her new engines were built from engine sections from old C-119 cargo planes and single-engine Douglas Skyraiders.

Each engine is christened on its cowling, for four Hollywood actresses: Ingrid, Rita, Betty, and Mitzi (see photo to the right).

"FiFi" Today

Today, Vic Agather's son Neil Agather is the B-29/B-24 Squadron Leader of the now renamed Commemorative Air Force (CAF).

"FiFi" is registered as NX529B, and is operating an active tour schedule in 2017, available on the B-29/B-24 Squadron website.

When not on tour, FiFi is currently based at Meacham Field in Fort Worth, Texas, at the Vintage Flying Museum. This is a temporary home for the B-29, while a permanent hangar is built at Dallas Executive Airport, the home of the CAF.

B-29 Superfortress "Doc" at McConnell AFB Open House
B-29 Superfortress "Doc" at McConnell AFB Open House

Doc: A Second B-29 Superfortress Returns to Flight

Work has also been underway for several years to return a second B-29 to flying status.

The Superfortress known as "Doc" Serial Number 44-69972 has had extensive restoration done on it by volunteers at the Boeing plant in Wichita, Kansas where it was originally built.

Doc made its return to flight in Wichita, Kansas, on July 17, 2016 after a successful restoration project.

Read more about Doc on this website


Other Surviving B-29 Superfortress Aircraft

click to see a complete list of surviving B-29s, their names, serial numbers, and locations

 

Boeing B-29 Superfortress "FiFI" arrives at Pounds Regional Airport in Tyler Texas, September 2012
(YouTube video by the AirplanesOfThePast staff)



Photographs of the B-29 Superfortress "FiFi"

Left fuselage view of the B-29 Superfortress "FiFi" of the Commemorative Air Force
B-29 "FiFi" of the Commemorative Air Force
B-29 Superfortress "FiFi" ... left front fuselage view
B-29 Superfortress "FiFi" ... front fuselage view
B-29 Superfortress "FiFi" of the Commemorative Air Force, with CAF flag and nose art
B-29 "FiFi" of the Commemorative Air Force, with CAF flag and nose art
Interior cockpit view of B-29 Superfortress "FiFi" of the Commemorative Air Force
Interior cockpit of B-29 "FiFi" of the Commemorative Air Force
B-29 Superfortress "FiFi" of the Commemorative Air Force, with CAF flag and American flag waving from cockpit
B-29 "FiFi" of the Commemorative Air Force, with CAF flag and American flag waving from cockpit
B-29 Superfortress "FiFi" engine ... "Mitzi"
B-29 "FiFi" engine ... "Mitzi"
Tail section of B-29 Superfortress "FiFi" showing the Commemorative Air Force logo
Tail section of B-29 "FiFi" showing the Commemorative Air Force logo
Tail section of B-29 Superfortress "FiFi" showing the rear cannons
Tail section of B-29 "FiFi" showing the rear cannons
B-29 Superfortress NX529B of the Commemorative Air Force
B-29 Superfortress NX529B of the Commemorative Air Force

For More Information About FiFi and Tour Schedules

Visit the website operated by the B-29/B-24 Wing of the Commemorative Air Force

More about the B-29 Superfortress