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Issue #70 January/February 2017

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Cover Caption: B-29 Superfortress s/n 44-69972, known affectionately as DOC, is flown on a test flight by pilot Charlie Tilghman, co-pilot Mark Novak, and flight engineer John Schauer. On July 17, 2016, DOC flew for the first time in 29 years.
Photo: Lyle Jansma


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Heigh-Ho Heigh-Ho
by Elizabeth Gibbs

It was a momentous day when hundreds of volunteers and spectators gathered at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas, to nervously await the historic first post-restoration flight of the world's second airworthy B-29 Superfortress, DOC. After waiting years for that day to arrive, they watched as the aircraft taxied onto the runway, its four engines rumbling the earth beneath their feet. Seeing the massive, iconic warbird take to the skies for the first time since 1956 was the culmination of a 16-year restoration that began nearly 30 years ago, when Tony Mazzolini first saw DOC sitting forlorn in the middle of the Arizona desert in 1987. Impassioned perseverence kept the project alive over many years, and all involved felt the weight of the opportunity. Because DOC was the only restorable B-29 not on display at a museum, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity that wouldn't be fully realized until July 17, 2016.


Last Chance Corsair
by Frank B. Mormillo

For the past three years, Fighter Rebuilders technician and Planes of Fame Air Museum volunteer Cory O'Bryan has been trying to complete the history of the museum's Vought F4U-1A Corsair, BuNo 17799. Cory is a warbird restoration expert and tenacious when it comes to tracking down the history of the warbirds in the collection. In addition to restoring a number of warbirds in the Planes of Fame collection, Cory has also produced illustrated story boards to display alongside those aircraft, complete in some cases with original photos of those specific aircraft in the early days of their service lives.

Warhawk Weekend
by Moreno Aguiari

On September 23 and 24, 2016, Dekalb-Peachtree Airport (PDK) near Atlanta, Georgia, was transformed into a World War II airfield, complete with five Curtiss P-40 Warhawks and veteran World War II airmen. Members of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Dixie Wing led the community effort to convert a corner of the former Naval Air Station (NAS) Chamblee, once home to Corsairs and Hellcats, into "Tiger Field" for the Third Annual Atlanta Warbird Weekend.

This is Your Significance
By Ron Kaplan

On November 18, 2016, a pilgrimage descended upon the large new Clay Lacy Aviation FBO at Van Nuys Airport from various corners of the country. Men and women, young and old. Private pilots and flight school students. Air show pilots and astronauts. Media moguls and museum managers. Commercial pilots and combat veterans. Ultimately numbering over 1,500, the emotionally-charged swarm shared a common denominator. Each was present to celebrate the life of one extremely special pilot, hero, mentor, gentleman, friend and inspiration: Robert A. "Bob" Hoover, who passed away at age 94 on October 25, 2016.

The Last Seahorse
by Glen Tagami and Stephen Chapis

On May 15, 2016, the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) celebrated the completion of one of its largest restoration projects to date. The only known surviving PBJ-1J Mitchell, Semper Fi, took to the skies after a 23-year restoration by the Southern California (SoCal) Wing of the CAF. Semper Fi represents countless hours of work by 20 to 25 faithful volunteers that lent their hearts and hands to a near rebuild of the aircraft, with the goal of returning the aircraft to its original World War II configuration. Semper Fi is painted in remembrance of the men who flew with Marine Bombing Squadron 611 (VMB-611), a unit that flew raids against Japanese fortifications on Rabaul, Kavieng, and the Philippines.


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