August 07, 2010
Posted by scott at August 07, 2010 11:28 AM
After being grounded for four years for corrosion repair and engine conversion, the world's only air-worthy B-29 is back in the air again. I've been following this particular aircraft off and on for, geeze, probably more than thirty years now. Except back then they didn't offer rides. A pricey ticket, to be sure, but it'd make a nice bookend to my B-17 flight.
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To see that there's only one airworthy B-29 makes me have a sad.
Since the late 60s, the most that have ever been airworthy at once was, as I recall, 5. Boeing was under-writing the complete restoration of another example ("Doc") in the 90s, but ran out of money for the project after 9-11, and progress seems to have been halted for several years now. B-29s are tremendously expensive and maintenance-intensive to remain operative (144 spark plugs must be changed annually, for example). She was grounded for corrosion, but stayed that way because they FINALLY were able to convert her to more common, later R-3350 motors. This should substantially lower operating costs and increase reliability.