Restored B-29 Superfortress flies for first time in 60 years

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(U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christopher Thornbury)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. (AFNS) — After 16 years of hard work and dedication from numerous volunteers around the Wichita area, a B-29 Superfortress, also known as Doc, took to the skies July 17 here for its first flight since 1956.

“I never thought I would live to see this day, but I did,” said Connie Palacioz, who served as a riveter during World War II.

Palacioz, now 91, was 18 years old when she put the first rivets on Doc when it was being manufactured.

Prior to the flight, the aircraft sat in the Mojave Desert for decades after being decommissioned and serving as a ballistic target at a Navy weapons range. An aircraft enthusiast found the B-29 in 1987.

“They’ve done a beautiful job on Doc,” said Charles Chauncey, a WWII B-29 pilot who flew 35 combat missions. “This is a great day for Wichita and I’m so pleased to have the crew here to fly it.”

Although this is the first time a B-29 has flown out of McConnell Air Force Base, the 22nd Air Refueling Wing can trace its heritage back to the 22nd Bombardment Group, which flew the aircraft during the Korean War.

“Thank you so much to McConnell Air Force Base,” said Jim Murphy, the project manager for Doc’s Friends, a nonprofit that helped restore the B-29. “The Air Force guys came over and helped us lace in the fuel cells. They’ve helped polish the airplane and they have helped and been assistance to us every step of the way.”