A page from the history books… The B-29 Bomber!

Every now and then in life we are presented with an instance of history happening right in front of us or have the chance to witness something significant. This type of experience can come in many different shapes and forms, but when it happens, you’ll know!

Usually, on my birthday I write about going flying to celebrate. Today was the 13th anniversary of my first solo flight. Sadly, no flying today as thunderstorms, high winds, low clouds and rain have dominated the day in central Florida. I’ll get up again soon though! So today, let’s take about something really incredible…

I vividly remember a warm day in Washington DC when my family stood on the steps of the Lincoln Monument to watch then sitting President Bill Clinton go by after the dedication of the Korean War Memorial. We stood and waited because how many opportunities do you have to be in the presence of a President? There have only been 43 Presidents (Grover Cleveland counts as the 22nd and 24th president, having been elected to and serving two distinct terms), in the history of the country. To have a chance to see one, is something significant.

But now onto the topic of the day, the B-29 Superfortress!

From 1943 to 1964, Boeing built 3,970 B-29 Superfortress aircraft. The B-29 separated itself from other aircraft in the United States’ fleet as a difference maker in World War II. To this day the B-29 remains the only aircraft to deploy a nuclear weapon…

Today there is only 1 of the 3,970 B-29s produced that remains in airworthy condition in the world. It should be noted a second B-29 restoration in Kansas is approaching completion, which will double the number of flying B-29 aircraft in the world…

The one B-29 flying today, known as FIFI, travels the country from showing to showing, allowing people of all ages to connect with an amazing piece of world and aviation history. So of course when I heard that FIFI was coming to the Leesburg International Airport (KLEE), just a few miles away from where I live, it was a solid bet that I was going to make it over to see the incredible airplane. There was NO chance I’d miss the opportunity to see a B-29 for the first time!

Photo Mar 29, 4 06 50 PM

There aren’t many things in aviation I haven’t seen or experienced, but a B-29 was one of the things on that list. On Tuesday, March 29th, late in the afternoon I took a quick drive over to the Leesburg Airport and as soon as I rounded the corner into the parking lot, the Superfortress filled my field of vision. It was am amazing sight to behold!

Photo Mar 29, 4 11 40 PM

I walked up to the airplane, reached out and touched the nose, just below the cockpit window. The feel wasn’t much different than any other large airplane, but it was the connection that was different. The B-29 was, in its day, and still is, an amazing machine! I circled the giant aircraft and took a variety of pictures. The pictures may not have come out great with the grey aircraft and grey, cloudy skies in the background, but they rival any of my Gulfstream or Global Express pictures…

Photo Mar 29, 4 03 31 PM

I didn’t spend much time around the B-29, just enough to get some pictures, take it all in and experience it. The experience gave me pause, when I thought about the monumentality of what I was seeing. I left the airport that day, knowing that I experienced something that I wanted to expereince and even needed to experience. Yet, before that day I never knew I needed to experience.

Photo Mar 29, 4 06 32 PM

Flash forward to late the next morning and I was out on the apron at the Tavares Seaplane Base. I was on “cross walk” duty as a seaplane was heading down the seaplane ramp out into Lake Dora for takeoff. I heard a distinct sound, the sound of power… I looked to the North and saw the mighty B-29 flying by. The aircraft was a few thousand feet up and quite a ways away, but the sound of the 4 massive engines drowned out the seaplane right in front of me. It was an incredible sight. Once the seaplane was safely into the water, I turned my attention to the B-29 and watched as it cruised by, all the while the B-29s engines continued playing the tune of freedom… It was a surreal experience, which I only got to expereince by luck. Had the seaplane not been there I would have continued walking into the building, but I stopped for the seaplane and got to witness the only remaining airworthy B-29 fly by… Funny how those things work, isn’t it?

 

-Fly Safe, @MTElia1B9

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