PRESS RELEASE – The year 2014 marks the 40th year of flight with the Commemorative Air Force’s (CAF) iconic B-29 Superfortress, FIFI; queen of the CAF fleet. The airplane, rescued and restored by the CAF in the early 1970s, has been a regular feature at airports and airshows all across the country.
The B-29 Squadron of the CAF was the first group to begin touring historic warbirds in 1974. Now, 40 years later, FIFI still barnstorms the country from coast to coast bringing “hands on” history to thousands of people. When asked what is involved in keeping an airplane like the B-29 flying, Squadron Leader Neils Agather responds, “Passion, money and time. It takes an unbelievable amount of money and volunteer hours to keep FIFI flying. The B-29 Squadron has raised millions of dollars over the years, all of which has gone back into the airplane to keep it in flying condition. But it’s all worth it when you see the veterans and their families reunited with the planes that carried them to freedom.”
To celebrate FIFI’s 40th Anniversary Tour, the CAF B-29/B-24 Squadron has produced a limited edition SUPERFORTRESS 2014 collector’s calendar. The calendar honors FIFI and the men and women who keep her flying. Proceeds from the sale of the calendar will go toward replacing the airplane’s almost 70 year old exhaust system.
“Last year friends of FIFI stepped up to help us raise money for a spare engine. This year we hope to raise $75,000 to replace the exhaust system,” says Squadron finance officer Gerald Oliver. “An exhaust system isn’t very glamorous, but without a new system, we can’t keep flying.”
FIFI supporters can receive the SUPERFORTRESS 2014 collector’s calendar for a donation of just $50. The calendar contains 12 fabulous, full color pictures of FIFI and her friends taken by famous aviation photographer Scott Slocum. In addition, there are a number of historic photos of B-29s and crews. Included on the inside cover of this giant calendar are historic pictures of FIFI and the story of her recovery and return to flight. Only 1,000 of these calendars are being produced and they are sure to become a collector’s item for years to come. The calendars are also signed by 5 of the Squadron leaders:
● Neils Agather – Son of the original FIFI (Josephine “FIFI” Agather, namesake of the CAF B-29) and current B-29 / B-24 Squadron Commander
● Lt. Charles Chauncey – 35 mission pilot of the B-29 Goin’ Jessie from WWII and a current Squadron member
● Scott Slocum – Internationally known aviation photographer who took the color panel photos of FIFI in the calendar
● David Oliver – Squadron Operations Office and current B-29 Instructor Pilot
● Rick Garvis – Squadron Senior Crew Chief on FIFI
Serious aviation historians have the opportunity to acquire one of 29 of these calendars that are signed by Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk. Dutch was the navigator on the B-29 Enola Gay that bombed Hiroshima. He is the only remaining crew member from that plane’s fateful mission. Paul Tibbets IV, grandson of the Enola Gay pilot, has also signed these special calendars which are being offered to those who contribute $500 or more.
B-29 enthusiasts who would like to purchase a calendar can order one at http://www.keepFIFIflying.org.
FIFI’s 40th Anniversary Tour will be a featured part of the CAF AirPower History Tour in 2014. The Tour features a number of rare and historic planes, including the B-29, P-51, C-45, PT-19 and others. Beginning its season February 14 in Pensacola, the famous planes will tour for six weeks in Florida. The tour will take a short break before embarking on a 12 week summer tour in California and the Northwest United States. More information about the CAF AirPower History Tour can be found at http://www.AirPowerTour.org.