Welcome to the Commemorative Air Force
History of Fifi
When the Confederate Air
Force (now the Commemorative Air Force) began searching for a B-29 for our collection of WWII aircraft, the war had been over
for 21 years. The Superforts that helped end it had long since yielded to new generations of jet-powered strategic bombers,
and vanished. According to the Air Force, no B-29s remained in inventory ~ even at storage or disposal depots. But the CAF
Colonels had faith and put the word out, and it paid off.
1971, a pilot reported sighting a number of what might be B-29s on the California desert near China Lake. The CAF learned
the aircraft were indeed Superforts that had been parked at a Navy weapons center for 17 years. They had been used for gunnery
targets and abused by heat, sand and vandals.
much negotiation (the Air Force still owned the planes; the Navy had to agree to release one), much paperwork and a pain-staking
process of elimination to find the best survivor, the CAF became the owner of B-29 SN44-62070. That was just the beginning
of the task.
CAF maintenance team arrived at China Lake on 31 March, 1971. In only nine weeks, with the help of CAF volunteers, they restored
all systems and replaced fuel, oil and hydraulic hoses. They restored the controls and installed instruments. They ran the
engines, tested propellers and landing gear, and had new window bubbles made. (Many parts and spares also came from the other
B-29s at China Lake).
3 August, 1971, SN44-62070 was ready to fly again. The crew took on enough fuel to fly non-stop 1,250 miles to CAF Headquarters,
then in Harlingen, Texas, lifted off at 7:48 a.m. and in a six hour, 38 minute flight, brought home the last flying Superfortress
complete restoration to CAF standards of airworthiness was a long and expensive project involving more than three years of
fund-raising and hard work. Late in 1974, the CAF's B-29 was christened "Fifi" and joined the other WWII fighters and bombers
to preserve the memories and teach of lessons of mankind's greatest war.
Recovery and Early Years
One of the most important facets of the CAF's mission is to preserve the history of those who served during WWII and
to save those memories in their own words.
this is also possible with CAF history as well. Below, you will find letters and recollections about the early days of the
CAF and the recovery and early successes of Fifi.
A Quick Look into Fifi's Past
official serial number in No. 44-62070. Some of the interesting dates in her earlier life are as follows:
- July 31, 1945
~ Delivered to USAAF, Salinas, Kansas.
- August, 1945
~ To 247th base unit, Smoky Hill Field, Kansas.
- September, 1945
~ To 232nd base unit, Dalhart Field, Texas.
- October, 1945
~ to 242nd base unit, (Continental Air Forces - changed in May, 1946 to Strategic Air Command), Grand Island Field, Nebraska.
- April, 1946 ~
Modified to TB-29A, used for operational training.
- November, 1947
~ Status changed to "excess" at Grand Island and transferred to 414th base unit (Air Material Command), Pyote AFB, Texas.
Assignment was "SA" administrative aircraft (probably some Colonel's private plane).
- January, 1948
~ Status changed to "SS" - storage (noncocooned) - polite for "left in desert."
- October, 1951
~ To contract maintenance and modification. Returned to B-29A configuration in April, 1952.
- September, 1952
~ Assigned to 310th Bombardment Wing (SAC), Smoky Hill AFB, Kansas.
- April, 1953 ~
To Sacramento Air Material Area for depot maintenance.
- May, 1953 ~ Returned
to 310th Bombardment Wing (SAC), Smoky Hill AFB, Kansas.
- August, 1953
~ Assigned to 3510th Flying Training Wing (Air Training Command), Randolph AFB, Texas.
- November, 1953
~ Modified to TB-29A (trainer).
- October, 1956
~ Transferred to U.S. Navy (believed flown from Randolph, Texas to China Lake Naval Weapons Center, Muroc Dry Lake, California
at this time.
- 1971 ~ U.S. Navy
to Confederate Air Force and flown to Harlingen, Texas.
Commemorative Air Force, Inc. except as otherwise marked. All rights reserved.
Max Haynes' photo of the Commemorative Air Force's Warbird Hangar.
Click on Max's photo to visit his website.
Max Haynes is a premier aviation photographer. His photography essays are outstanding.
His photos of the CAF Airsho in Midland, Texas are spectacular. I highly recommend a visit to Max's website. Tell Max that
Frank sent you!
Cavanaugh Flight Museum
|B-29/B-24 Press Release 1-21-08
Jim Cavanaugh to Sponsor CAF B-29 Bomber - FIFI
The Cavanaugh Flight Museum (“CFM”) and the Commemorative Air Force (“CAF”)
announced today a Cooperative Agreement that will put the world’s only airworthy B-29 back in the air. Jim Cavanaugh
has pledged $1.2 million sponsorship for the re-engine project of FIFI, the CAF’s world famous B-29. “This sponsorship,
together with additional donations from CAF members, should go a long way towards completing the project of putting FIFI back
in the air again,” said Stephan Brown, President / CEO of the CAF. “Fundraising for FIFI by the CAF will continue,
as we still have other restoration maintenance to perform, but Jim Cavanaugh’s generosity will get us a long way down
that track,” Brown continued. Cavanaugh is the main financial support for the CFM and has been a long time benefactor
of warbird projects and the CAF. “The B-29 played such a significant role in history that it is important that this
airplane be preserved. Because of my close relationship with the CAF, I felt the need to get FIFI flying again,” said
Additionally, the B-29/B-24 Squadron Staff of the CAF, which has been assigned with the responsibility
of operating the B-29 and the B-24A, voted unanimously to base these two airplanes at the CFM. According to Lyn Fite, CAF
B-29 / B-24 Squadron Leader, “Up to now, these aircraft were based out of Midland, but this unit move will be beneficial
to the Squadron in many ways,” said Fite. “We will reside in Addison Texas, at the CFM, for six months, while
we perform annual maintenance and we will tour on behalf of the CAF, by our crews, for the other six months.” Steve
Sheridan Director of Maintenance of CFM exclaimed, “We have the facilities and resources to assist the volunteers of
the B-29/B24 and look forward to helping in any way we can.” According to Doug Jeanes, Director of the CFM, visitors
of the museum will be able to view this spectacular aircraft during its annual maintenance, at no additional cost.
The Cavanaugh Flight Museum is a non-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization devoted to promoting
aviation studies and to perpetuating America's aviation heritage; the museum fulfills its mission by restoring, operating,
maintaining and displaying historically-significant, vintage aircraft, and by collecting materials related to the history
The Commemorative Air Force is a nonprofit aviation association dedicated to Honoring American
Military Aviation, through Flight, Exhibition and Remembrance. The CAF has more than 8000 members within 75 units worldwide,
flying and restoring 171 vintage Warbirds.
For more information of the Commemorative Air Force go to www.commemorativeairforce.org
Click on a camera for the "FIFI" Photo Album!
Phase I flight testing will begin Friday and continue through Saturday, according to the CAF. Monday
the public is invited to find a seat, starting at 7 a.m. at the main hangar as the crew performs "touch and go" flights at
Midland International Airport.
|July 1, 2010 Smokey Start
CAF B-29 FIFI Takes First Flight
Fri, 06 Aug '10
"Queen Of The Fleet" In The Air For The First Time In Six Years
It was a long time coming, but the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) said Thursday that
FIFI has returned to flight. "The Queen of the Fleet" ... which is the world's only flyable Boeing B-29 Superfortress ...
returned to the skies early Thursday morning for its first flight since 2004.
"It is an emotional day at the CAF for our volunteer-members and staff," said CAF
President Stephan Brown. "There were more than a few tears of joy shed by those who have worked over these past few years
to see FIFI fly again. Today is a new beginning for this historic warbird. Thanks to the dedication of our members and the
support of Jim Cavanaugh, the B-29 can once again return to telling the stories of the men and women who sacrificed their
lives for our freedom."
Following more than four years of work, FIFI returned to the skies just before 9
a.m. on Thursday morning for a beautiful 39-minute flight. Back on the ground, the crew exited the B-29 with massive smiles
and unimaginable excitement.
"She ran like a top," said CAF Colonel, and one of the pilots for the B-29, Paul
Stojkov. "It's a very special day. A lot of us have been waiting for this for four and a half years. We have to thank everyone
involved for their help in getting her to this point."
"I'm speechless," said CAF B-29 Crew Chief Dave Miller. "I can't express in words
my appreciation for the opportunity to work with FIFI and for the help of everyone involved in working to get her back in
the air. Thank you to the entire CAF family."
"I am deeply pleased to see FIFI fly again after such a long wait," said CAF General
Staff member, Neils Agather. "Today's flight is a product of the dedication of many people, Gary Austin, Dave Miller and many
more volunteers. We must also thank Jim Cavanaugh for his support. My parents, Vic and Fifi, would be proud."
The CAF Airpower Museum will open its doors at 0700 on Saturday August 7, for visitors
who would like to get a front row seat for FIFI's pre-flight preparations and flight. Visitors to the museum will be ushered
to the main hangar for an up-close view of the crew preparing this massive bomber for flight. Once FIFI begins to head for
the runways, visitors will be escorted to a prime viewing area, to witness the B-29's crew training.
"Saturday is the perfect opportunity for our community to come out to the CAF and
see FIFI fly," said CAF President Stephan Brown. "Throughout the morning, the B-29 crew will be completing the required crew
training that includes 'touch and gos' at Midland International Airport, it will be quite a show."
From the Aero-News Network
The Commemorative Air Force B-29 "Fifi" flies over the flightline during AirFest 2010 at Lackland Air
Force Base on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010. "Fifi," the only airworthy World War II-era B-29 in the world, recently returned to
the skies after an extended maintenance period.
We were just sitting down to lunch here in NW San Antonio, when we heard what was clearly radial
engine sounds. Looked out the window in time to see FiFi fly by. She was here for Air Fest 2010 at Lackland AFB.
She also made the front page (above the banner) of the Express-News today.
Looked like she was departing the area, heading NW. Unfortunately, I'm not fast enough with
the camera. Hopefully someone who was at the show might post some photos.