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Enola Gay Pilot General Paul Tibbets Passes Away

November 1, 2007 —EAA and EAA Warbirds of America extends its heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of General Paul Warfield Tibbets, Jr., USAF Ret, who passed away today at his home in Columbus, Ohio. He was 92. Tibbets will be forever known as the pilot of Enola Gay, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945. Three days later, a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki Japan, which hastened the end of World War II.

Tibbets was a student at the University of Cincinnati's medical school when he withdrew in 1937 to enlist in the Army Air Corps and trained as a bomber pilot. He was sent to England where he was stationed at RAF Polebrook and led the first bombing mission by the 8th Air Force in Europe. Tibbets later returned to the U.S. and organized the 509th Composite Group, the outfit that eventually undertook the atomic bombing missions.

In 1959, Tibbets was promoted to Brigadier General and continued his service in the U.S. Air Force until retiring in 1966. He later moved to Columbus, where he ran an international air taxi service, Executive Jet Aviation, until he retired in 1985. Tibbets was a frequent participant at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh over the years, drawing large crowds whenever he spoke. He last appeared at EAA AirVenture 2004.

Tibbets is survived by his wife, Andrea, and three sons. No funeral is planned.

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