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B-29 Doc Returns to AirVenture
By Frederick A. Johnsen
July 23, 2018 - The doctor will see you now. Doc the B-29, that is. The Boeing Superfortress that first came to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh last year with an amazing back story of perseverance made a return visit to Oshkosh this year.
Still looking fit and polished, Doc has logged about 45 flying hours since its previous AirVenture visit, with a total time of 80 hours since restoration. Tony Mazzolini, the unstoppable steward who extracted Doc from the desert and guided it to restoration, described a recent flight he made. “The plane was flawless,” he said. “It’s running like a Swiss watch.” He attributes this to the efforts of the restoration crew, who “made everything first class or better.”
Doc is performing up to specifications, Tony said, with “zero surprises.” That includes a fuel burn of 100 gph per engine. Add that to the overall cost of touring a huge four-engine bomber around the United States and Doc can consume up to $10,000 per flight hour.
To help defray the expenses, Doc was recently added to the list of approved warbirds for carrying passengers who pay for the once-in-a-lifetime privilege of flying in one of only two airworthy B-29 Superfortresses in the world. “That’s a game-changer,” said Josh Wells, a director of the group called Doc’s Friends, the nonprofit that supports the big B-29. He said the opportunity to fly people aboard Doc ups the ante on the bomber’s educational capabilities, while helping to make the aircraft more self-sustaining. Information about flights is available on Doc’s website at www.B29Doc.com/rides
And there’s more in the offing for Doc’s educational capacity: Doc’s Friends has already raised more than $5 million to build a 32,000-square-foot hangar and education facility in Wichita, Kansas, to house its prized aircraft. Starting this October, the building will let visitors see Doc and learn about the role of the B-29 and America’s wartime construction capacity that did so much to ensure victory in World War II. Wells said the push is on to raise an additional $1 million to fully enhance the Wichita facility as a STEM education facility.
Doc and its crew are now greeting AirVenture visitors on Boeing Plaza.