Addison, Texas – June 25, 2013- Nashville residents will witness a rare sight Tuesday, July 2, when the Commemorative Air Force’s (CAF) famous Boeing B-29 Superfortress comes to town. FIFI, the only remaining flying example of the aircraft in the world, will fly into Smyrna Airport for a 6 day stay. Country music celebrity and accomplished airman Aaron Tippin will be flying copilot when the airplane arrives. Tippin, a CAF member and spokesperson for the organization, is part of the B-29 crew and also flies their B-24 Liberator. The B-29 will be accompanied by the P-51 Mustang Gunfighter and other historic military airplanes including a C-45 Expeditor and PT-13 Stearman. The aircraft will be on display at the airport through July 7 for cockpit tours and rides.
Tippin dedicates his time and talent appearing and performing at various Commemorative Air Force events across the country, including the Red, White & Loud Tour celebrating America’s freedom through song and the flight of this iconic warbird, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, FIFI. “For me, this is an opportunity of a lifetime to bring aviation enthusiasts and country fans together,” says Aaron, “I’m blessed because my kind of country music is patriotic and all-American. My involvement with the CAF caters to both aviation and country music enthusiasts.”
The Boeing B-29 Superfortress, first flown in 1942, began active service in 1944 and is perhaps best known as the aircraft whose missions over Japan helped bring about the end of World War II. It was designed as a replacement for the older B-17s and B-24s, with longer range and greater bomb loads. The B-29 was also used in the Korean War in the early 1950s and was a staple of the U.S. Air Force until the late 1950s.
Aviation visionary Sarah Wilson will accompany the tour in Nashville with her Stearman Speedmail, recreating the magic and excitement of aviation in the 1930s. This 1929 airplane is the oldest surviving Stearman Model 4 Speedmail and is a real life celebrity vehicle. Originally delivered to the Richfield Oil Company on October 28, 1929, this plane was the flagship for the Jimmie Allen Flying Club based on the popular radio program The Air Adventures of Jimmie Allen. The Jimmie Allen radio series and Flying Club were important tools and greatly influenced the generation that would fly in WWII.
The event, located at 238 Doug Warpolle Road in Smyrna, is open to the public and will allow attendees to get up close to these famous military aircraft. Gates are open from 2:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Admission cost for the event is $10 per person and $20 for mom, dad and kids. Cockpit tours in the B-29 are included and will be available when the airplane is not in motion. There are opportunities for attendees to purchase a ride in the airplanes. Visit www.AirPowerTour.org for more information about the tour schedule and to make ride reservations. The cost for airplane rides ranges from $65 to $1995. There is a discount for seats purchased online.
The mission of the Commemorative Air Force is to honor the men and women who built, maintained and flew in these airplanes during World War II. The organization believes that mission is best accomplished by maintaining the airplanes in flying condition; taking the airplanes to the people allowing them to experience the sight and sound of the aircraft in flight.
About the CAF’s B-29 Superfortress, FIFI:
FIFI was acquired by the CAF in the early 1970s when a group of CAF members found her at the U.S. Navy Proving Ground at China Lake, California where she was being used as a missile target. The airplane was rescued and restored and flew for over thirty years until 2006 when the chief pilot made the decision to ground her pending a complete power plant re-fit. What followed was an extensive four year restoration that included replacing all four engines with new custom built hybrid engines. FIFI returned to the sky in 2010 and since that time has traveled coast to coast attracting large crowds at every tour stop. Learn more about FIFI at www.AirPowerTour.org.
About the P-51 Mustang:
The P-51 is one of the most revered fighters in WWII and possibly the greatest airplane ever designed. It entered service in Europe in the spring of 1944 as a primary long-range escort fighter. It held 1,880 rounds of .50 (fifty) caliber in six guns, a flying range of 1,650 miles with external drop tanks, and a top speed of 440 mph at 30,000 feet. Mustangs were a deadly opponent in battle and destroyed 4,950 enemy aircraft in the air, more than any other US fighter in WWII. P-51s were flown in the pacific theater by the end of 1944 and escorted B-29s on long range missions to Japan. More than 13,500 P-51s were built and flew for the Air Force into the mid 1950s.
About the Stearman Speedmail:
In the 1930s airplanes, air races, speed records, and long distance flights were in the newspaper almost every day and kids were fascinated with flying and “airplane crazy.” Pilots named Lindbergh, Doolittle, and Earhart were real life heroes but there were other aviation heroes who came right into America’s living rooms each night over the radio. If these pilots were the rock stars of their day, then Jimmie Allen was the biggest teen idol! This plane made public appearances across the country with the actor Jimmie Allen in the front seat to meet members of the Jimmie Allen Flying Club AND was actually flown by Charles Lindbergh on April 2, 1930 at Burbank Airport in California. They continued through the 1950s, by updating story plots and bringing in post-WWII aviation developments such as jet propulsion. Based in Lakeland, Florida, the airplane is owned and flown by Sarah Wilson. More information about Sarah and her airplane can be found at www.SarahWilsonPilot.com.
About Aaron Tippin:
A highly experienced airman himself, Aaron soloed on his 16th birthday. He became a commercial multi-engine instrument-rated pilot by the age of 18 and is also helicopter-qualified. A certified aircraft and power plant mechanic, he owns a 1941 Stearman, a 1946 J3 Cub and 1959 Helio Curior--all in flying condition. Over the past two decades, platinum recording artist Aaron Tippin has become one of the most recognizable and influential voices in country music. With 13 recorded CDs to his name and more than 30 charted singles, he performs nearly 200 dates each year. For more visit www.aarontippin.com.
About the AirPower History Tour:
The B-29/B-24 Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force brings together the aircraft, pilots and crews from over 67 CAF units across the country creating an ever changing assortment of military aircraft touring together to bring the sights, smells and sounds of World War II aviation history to audiences across the United States.
The tour always includes at least one of the two rarest World War II bombers in the world – FIFI, the only flying Boeing B-29 Superfortress and Diamond Lil, an equally rare B-24 Liberator. Aircraft accompanying the B-29 or B-24 will include other World War II aircraft such as the P-51 Mustang, B-17 Flying Fortress, B-25 Mitchell along with an assortment of fighters, trainers and liaison aircraft.
About the Commemorative Air Force:
Collecting, restoring and flying vintage historical aircraft for more than half a century, the Commemorative Air Force ranks as one of the largest private air forces in the world. The CAF is dedicated to Honoring American Military Aviation through flight, exhibition and remembrance. A non-profit educational association, the CAF has more than 8,000 members and a fleet of over 150 airplanes distributed throughout the country to 67 units located in over 20 states for care and operation. For more information, visit www.commemorativeairforce.org.