History Takes Flight

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

On Tuesday I posted a photo of the only Boeing B-29 Bomber that still flies. The aircraft served in World War II and Korea, as well as in various other military applications. “FIFI” as it’s named, is at Sun ‘n Fun this week to give rides to paying passengers as well as a few historical figures many people, even aviation nerds didn’t know about.

Crawling through the tunnel in the B-29 while in flight. This passageway connected the two pressurized crew spaces of this WW II Bomber.

The Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs) were civilian pilots who flight tested and ferried military aircraft to combat theaters during World War II. The B-29 was the last American bomber to enter service during that war, and Paul Tibbets (he would drop the first atomic bomb on Japan) requested that some WASPs be qualified on the aircraft. This was done in part to show the men, who had heard mostly scuttlebutt that the bomber was difficult to fly, that it wasn’t.

Two women were qualified to fly on the B-29 and one is still living today. Dora Dougherty was contacted by the Commemorative Air Force (it operates the B-29) and invited to see “FIFI” at Sun ‘n Fun and were ecstatic when she showed up Tuesday to see the aircraft and make a date for today’s flight. My friend Steve had profiled today’s commander of the B-29 when it visited EAA AirVenture last summer. David Oliver incidently is 29 years old himself and he found us two spots on what turned out to be an historic flight.

Fly along with Dora George on “FIFI”

Needless to say, not only did we get to ride on one of the rarest airworthy aircraft in the world but we got to fly with the rarest of WASPs and a Tuskegee Airman who flew the aircraft in the Korean War. I will have much more on this including plenty of photos and video later. Now I have to run to the Seaplane Splash-in!

On the B-29 flight deck. The gentleman in the red behind me (bombardier seat) is a Tuskegee Airman who flew the B-29 in Korea. Dora Dougherty, the last surviving WASP to fly a B-29 is to my right, and 29 year-old David Oliver is flying left seat, he is a Colonel in the Commemorative Air Force, which operates the aircraft.

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