Following a hiatus over the winter, due to the cold temperatures, the B-29 known throughout the world as ‘Doc’ ran her engines again for the first time in 2016. The last few weeks have seen a flurry of activity on the vintage bomber in Wichita, Kansas as her restoration team prepares for her first flight. One of the final restoration requirements has been to replace all of the aircraft’s tires with brand new examples, as the previous set had been on Doc for fifteen years and was no longer considered airworthy.
Much of the effort has been directed towards demonstrating to the FAA that all of the bomber’s systems and her configuration comply with regulations. This has included a comprehensive review of the aircraft’s paperwork, which has been meticulously recorded over the last sixteen years of the bomber’s resurrection. As they say in the warbird world, an aircraft is only ready to fly once its weight has been equalled by the paperwork supporting the restoration … which is saying a lot for a massive beast like the B-29! We are getting very close to that point now. The recent engine run was to blow out the cobwebs, so to speak, and to make sure that there are no surprises when they get to repeat the process with FAA inspectors on hand sometime soon. This will probably be the final hurdle before the FAA signs off on the project, allowing the Super Fortress to make her first flight in more than half a century. Prior to that flight, of course, the B-29 will have to receive formal clearance from the Defense Department to permit the bomber to use the longer, non-joint-use runway at McConnell AFB to conduct the test flight program. Doc’s Friends, the organization supporting the restoration, will announce a date for the formal first flight as soon as they have a clear idea of when it can take place. The public will be encouraged to attend, and we will be sure to let our readers know as soon as we receive the details. There will undoubtedly be a comprehensive record of this momentous occasion once it arrives though, and we will endeavor to share as much of it as we can when that moment arrives. In the meantime, here is a short video provided via Doc’s Friends showing the recent engine run!