One-by-one, the four propeller engines start up.
Thump, thump, thump. Clouds of snow white smoke blow out of the vents on each engine.
Thump, thump, thump. The propellers spin; becoming a blur of motion.
Thump, thump, thump. The B-29 Superfortress, also known as Doc, speeds down McConnell’s runway.
Thump, thump, thump. Doc has left the ground.
After 16 years of hard work and dedication from numerous volunteers from around the Wichita, Kansas, area, Doc took to skies for its first flight, July 17, here, since 1956.
“I never thought I would live to see this day but I did,” said Connie Palacioz, 91, a World War II riveter. Palacioz was 18 years old when she put the first rivets on Doc back when it first was 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, 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 Murphey, B-29 project manager. “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.”
For more information about the project, visit www.b-29doc.com.