David Oliver would love to visit the Strategic Air & Space Museum tonight for the unveiling of a restored Boeing B-29 Superfortress, but he'll be too busy flying one.
Oliver, 30, is the pilot of “FiFi,” the only remaining B-29 Superfortress bomber still flying. Oliver and FiFi tour the United States as part of the Commemorative Air Force organization headquartered in Midland, Texas.
Oliver applauded the Nebraska museum's six-year restoration project, made possible with the help of dozens of volunteers, including former B-29 crewmen.
Boeing built nearly 4,000 Superfortresses, including 536 at the Martin bomber plant near Bellevue. The four-engine, propeller-driven, heavy bomber sports features such as a pressurized cabin, an electronic fire-control system and remote-controlled machine-gun turrets.
“We really are glad to see another example of one of the most instrumental pieces of equipment from World War II go on permanent display,” Oliver said in a recent phone interview from Tyler, Texas. “The B-29 was a huge advancement in technology, and it was created with parts from many different American companies who all came together to win the war.”
Tonight's event includes an unveiling of the new name for the B-29 and tours of the plane. Museum members can tour the B-29 Sunday. The plane will go on public display by Nov. 21 and will be available for tours on other special occasions.
Among the B-29s built at the Bellevue Martin plant were the Enola Gay and Bockscar, the planes that dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
“Any time you can walk through a restored B-29 and see the real conditions men went to war in, you are stepping into a time capsule,” Oliver said. “That's why it's so great to have these planes restored, because it will teach so many future generations about the history of our country.”
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