Residents of Lancaster, Calif., will experience ìhands onî history next week when the Commemorative Air Forceís iconic Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber, FIFI, lands at Fox Field accompanied by a P-51 Mustang and several other vintage World War II airplanes.
The airplanes will be on display May 19 through 21.
Visitors will be able to tour the B-29 cockpit and also purchase rides in all of the visiting aircraft.
The Boeing B-29 Superfortress, first flown in 1942, began active service in 1944 and is best known as the aircraft whose missions over Japan helped bring about the end of World War II. It was designed as a replacement for the older B-17s and B-24s, with longer range and greater bomb loads. The B-29 was also used in the Korean War in the early 1950s and was a staple of the U.S. Air Force until the late 1950s.
FIFI, celebrating her 40th year of flight with the Commemorative Air Force in 2014, will visit local airports in Arizona, California and the Northwest United States this summer as the feature aircraft in the CAF AirPower History Tour. The tour brings aircraft, pilots and crews from more than 60 CAF units located throughout the country together to create an ever changing assortment of touring military aircraft. These aircraft are powerful history lessons bringing the sights, smells and sounds of World War II aviation to audiences across the United States.
Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children age 10-17. Children under age 10 are free. All of the airplanes will be on static display when they are not flying. B-29 cockpit tours are included in the admission price and rides are available in all of the airplanes. Ride prices range from $75 to $1795. Ride reservations may be made at www.AirPowerTour.org where additional information about the tour stop can also be found.
The Commemorative Air Force honors the men and women who built, maintained and flew in these airplanes during World War II. The organization believes that is best accomplished by maintaining the airplanes in flying condition; taking the airplanes to the people allowing them to experience the sight and sound of the aircraft in flight.
FIFI was acquired by the CAF in the early 1970s when a group of CAF members found her at the U.S. Navy Proving Ground at China Lake, Calif., where she was being used as a missile target. The airplane was rescued and restored and flew for more than 30 years until 2006 when the chief pilot made the decision to ground her pending a complete power plant re-fit. What followed was an extensive four-year restoration that included replacing all four engines with new custom built hybrid engines. FIFI returned to the sky in 2010 and since that time has traveled coast to coast attracting large crowds at every tour stop. Learn more about FIFI and her tour schedule at www.AirPowerTour.org.
The P-51 is one of the most revered fighters in World War II and possibly the greatest airplane ever designed. It entered service in Europe in the spring of 1944 as a primary long-range escort fighter. It held 1,880 rounds of .50 caliber in six guns, a flying range of 1,650 miles with external drop tanks, and a top speed of 440 mph at 30,000 feet. Mustangs were a deadly opponent in battle and destroyed 4,950 enemy aircraft in the air, more than any other U.S. fighter in World War II. P-51s were flown in the pacific theater by the end of 1944 and escorted B-29s on long range missions to Japan. More than 13,500 P-51s were built and flown in the U.S. Air Force into the mid 1950s.