By Nathan Cragun, for VALOR Forge
From the end of 1944 and into the first half of 1945, the city of Wendover, Utah rumbled to the training of the 509th Composite Group operating the United States’ newest strategic bomber: the B-29 Superfortress. The 509th would go on to be the unit tasked with dropping the atomic bombs on Japan’s Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the hopes of ending the Second World War. On May 9, Wendover Airfield and the B-29 Superfortress will be once again be reunited when the restored B-29 “Doc” visits Historic Wendover Airfield. “The return of an operational B-29 to Wendover Airfield is somewhat akin to a former U.S. President visiting his hometown,” stated Tom Peterson, historian and board member of the Historic Wendover Airfield Foundation. “It is a living piece of history that reminds us of the monumental efforts made by a generation of men and women, soldiers and civilians, to defeat a clear threat to the free nations of the world. It reminds us of history that we all share and needs to be remembered in more than just books and Youtube videos.” It has been more than 20 years since Wendover has been visited by a B-29. The last time was in 2001 when the, at the time, only restored B-29 “FiFi” visited the airfield. Prior to that, the last time was just after WWII when the airfield was closing. “Doc” is the latest B-29 restoration and is only the second fully restored and airworthy civilian B-29 in the world. “It took a team of 100-plus volunteers more than 450,000 volunteer hours over 16 years to restore ‘Doc’,” elaborated Josh Wells, Executive Director and General Manager of Doc’s Friends, Inc. “The uniqueness of the aircraft and its specialized parts meant that many of the aircraft systems had to be fully-remanufactured and with Wichita, Kansas, being the Air Capital of the World, the city’s aviation work force took the task to heart.”
Both “Doc” and Historic Wendover Airfield have very similar missions in that they strive to teach the current and upcoming generations about the sacrifices of WWII’s “Greatest Generation.”
“Doc” will be at Wendover from May 9-12 to allow the public to see this incredible machine up close. Other activities during the three days include rare historic aircraft displays — PT-17 Stearman and T-6 Texan — from the Utah Wing of the Commemorative Air Force. The Utah Military Vehicle Club will also display several WWII military vehicles. The Museum will open early at 8 a.m. on May 10-11.
For more information or to see about aircraft rides, visit https://wendoverairfield.org/event-b-29-doc-history-restored-tour/