The Commemorative Air Force’s (CAF) B-29 Superfortress FIFI, the only flying B-29 in the world, will arrive at Fort Worth’s Meacham International Airport on April 7 to join the B-24, Diamond Lil, at the CAF B-29/B-24 Squadron’s new home in Fort Worth. The airplane will arrive at the Vintage Flying Museum (VFM) at noon accompanied by the C-45 Expeditor, Bucket of Bolts, also making Meacham Airport its new home.
The three vintage aircraft will stay at the museum, located at Meacham Airport, for at least a couple of years until the new CAF National Air Base location is determined and hangar space to accommodate the airplanes becomes available. “It’s an amazing opportunity to host this historic aircraft,” said VFM Director Charlyn “Chuckie” Hospers. “Our hangar was originally built to house B-29 bombers, so we think FIFI will feel right at home.”
FIFI is returning to Fort Worth, having spent some time at the museum hangar in 2011. The VFM hangar was originally built to accommodate B-29 bombers in San Antonio. It was later disassembled and reconstructed at Meacham. The hangar was purchased by Hospers and her husband, the late William “Doc” Hospers, in 1990 and started the museum. For many years it was the home of the B-17G Flying Fortress, Chuckie, purchased by the couple in 1977. The museum is now home to more than a dozen vintage military aircraft owned by Hospers or on loan from private owners and other warbird groups.
The Boeing B-29 Superfortress, first flown in 1942, began active service in 1944 and is perhaps 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 also was used in the Korean War in the early 1950s and was a staple of the U.S. Air Force until the late 1950s. 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. After a four-year restoration, which 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. FIFI, along with Diamond Lil and Bucket of Bolts, will be available for viewing and rides during special events at the Vintage Flying Museum while not on tour. Visit www.airpowersquadron.org or call the museum at 817-624-1935 before visiting.