First woman since 1944 to qualify on the B-29 to appear at Air Power tour event
Debbie King at the controls of “FIFI”, the CAF’s B-29. King is the first woman to qualify on the World War II bomber since 1944.
Its been sixty five years since Dora Dougherty and Dorthea “Didi” Moorman became the first women to be fully qualified in the B-29, the most advanced in the World War II Allied aircraft bomber fleet. Last summer Debbie King, 44, became the first woman since that time to become a qualified pilot on the Commemorative Air Force’s (CAF) B-29 “FIFI”, the only remaining airworthy B-29 in the world.
Beginning today thru Sunday (July 26-28) in Madison the CAF will have military aircraft from that era including “FIFI” andtwo other bombers, four fighters and a trainer on hand for people to see and also hop rides. The Air Power History Tour is a traveling showcase of CAF aircraft that in total number 160 and are operated and maintained by the nearly 9,000 members of the organization.
Women pilots in WW II helped men conquer fears of flying the B-29
Former B-29 Pilot Dora Dougherty (left) and Lt. Col. George Hardy ret. a Tuskegee Airman flew the B-29 in Korea. Photo by: Steve Schapiro
In World War Two women were not allowed to fly in combat, and African-Americans were only begrudgingly permitted toward the end of the conflict. But women did perform an incredible amount of military flying as Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs).
The Boeing B-29 “Superfortress” was the best bomber of the war, but it had some serious teething problems that made male pilots reluctant to fly it. Enter two WASPs who were plucked by Colonel Paul Tibbets to demonstrate that the plane was safe. Tibbets took this extraordinary step because he had a big mission to accomplish; train a bomber group to drop atomic weapons, which at that moment was still a big “if”.
The last airworthy B-29 “FIFI”, is currently touring the U.S.
I’m down in Lakeland, Florida this week at the second-largest fly-in in the United States. Sun ‘n Fun is kind of the kickoff to the flying season and like golf and the “southern swing” the weather is reliably good in this region for an outdoor event, and so the geographical location makes sense. As usual, when I travel to Florida for relaxation during the cold months, a heat wave hits the upper Midwest, mostly negating the benefit. Here we go again…