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What’s Up, Doc?
One of two restored, flying B-29s lands at Oshkosh
By Ti Windisch
July 23, 2017 - For the first time ever, B-29 Boeing Superfortress Doc landed in Oshkosh for an EAA AirVenture Oshkosh visit Saturday afternoon. Onlookers gathered in huge crowds up and down the flightline for the historic arrival.
EAA’s vice president of advocacy and safety, Sean Elliott, flew Doc into Oshkosh from Wichita, Kansas, and said getting to know Doc’s Friends, the group who rebuilt the B-29, was an incredible experience.
“It was phenomenal,” Sean said. “The airplane is such an iconic piece of history, and it was such a beautiful restoration; it’s like a brand new B-29 from the factory. The work the volunteers did over that time frame is amazing. It reminds me of Oshkosh in that the airplane is incredible, but the people make it special.”
With its distinctive, reflective aluminum body, Doc looks the part of a historic warbird that originally rolled off an assembly line in 1945. The B-29’s journey has been a long one since then, including stops in California, a stint at a Mojave Desert bombing range where Doc served as a target for bomb training, then back to Wichita where it was initially constructed in ’45. Doc was rebuilt starting in 2000 until 2016, and then made his 2017 journey to Oshkosh for AirVenture.
Doc just missed being able to attend EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016, making its first flight in July 2016, 60 years after its retirement in 1956. The B-29 is finally here, much to the benefit of AirVenture attendees.
Onlookers on Saturday were able to stroll right up to the massive Doc and chat with the crew who flew him in, which is one of those experiences that is very hard to come by outside of Oshkosh.
Doc’s name comes from the squadron it flew in, the Seven Dwarfs. The B-29’s nose art reflects the name, as Doc the dwarf points up at the sky that Doc is either currently, or soon to be, breezing through with grace and power.
Although B-29s are typically lonely, considering the rarity of a flying model, Doc will not be alone for long. The only other flying B-29, FIFI, owned and operated by the Commemorative Air Force, will soon join Doc at AirVenture 2017.
The B-29s will fly together on Tuesday, which will be the first time two such bombers have joined each other in the skies in decades. The duo will make additional AirVenture appearances on Friday and Saturday.
“It’s an ‘Only in Oshkosh’ kind of experience,” Sean said, of the two B-29s flying together. “You’re not going to see that in other places, bringing those airplanes together with the hearts and minds that go with them. This is a shining example of the importance of general aviation and why it’s so special to have it here at AirVenture.”
Doc will be at AirVenture throughout the convention, so even if attendees missed his arrival, there are plenty of chances to see this newly restored B-29 up close, both on display and during its air show flights.