AeroTrans International


- June 2, 2014

May 30, 2014 — ALINAS, Calif. FiFi


May 30, 2014 — ALINAS, Calif.

Fifi is the last World War II B-29 Superfortress bomber that can still fly. The legendary warbird that rained thousands of bombs on the Pacific Theater. Her famous relative, the "Enola Gay," was the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The historic plane is being showcased for the public at the Salinas Municipal Airport, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday through Sunday. Plane tours and flights are available.

"She's incredible - one of the most historic planes from World War II, and the only one of her kind in the world that is still flying." said Bruce Adams, director of the California International Airshow Salinas. "She was built in 1940, flew for the first time in 1942, and was retired in 1960." FiFi did not always look so good. In 1971, it lay rusting on an open range in the Mojave Desert, where its only remaining service was as a missile target at China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station in Muroc Dry Lake.

That's where it was found by businessman Vic Agather, a World War II Army Air Force veteran who recognized it as an important relic of American history.In its prime, the B-29 was the most sophisticated heavy bomber ever developed, boasting a pressurized cabin with remote-control gun systems, four propeller engines, capability of flying at altitudes of more than 30,000 feet at speeds in excess of 350 mph. That was too high for Japanese fighter planes.

By the end of World War II, Boeing had built 3,970 B-29s, but most of the temperamental bombers went to scrap after the Korean War.

Twenty-two B-29s still exist and most can be seen in museums Agather and his Texas-based group, Commemorative Air Force, restored FiFi to flying condition and put it on the airshow circuit in the 1970s. It was repainted by Boeing in 1991, but was grounded in 2006 after metal pieces in the plane's four radial engines began disintegrating. Four years later, at a cost of $3 million, FiFi got four new engines and was returned to the skies. Other legendary warplanes that will be on display, and available for tours and rides, through Sunday at Salinas Municipal Airport include a P-51 Mustang (nickname: "Man O War"), a C-45 Expeditor (Nickname: "Bucket of Bolts"), and a T-6 Texan (Navy SNJ).

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