B-29 tours spark memories and wonder on first day
The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) AirPower History Tours feature a C-45 Expeditor, T-6 Texan and the famous Boeing B-29 Superfortress, which, after restoration in the early 1970s, has flown for over 40 years.
Wednesday, CAF tour leader Glenn Mount said getting to tour the B-29 is a unique opportunity because there are only two left in the world that are still flying. He said the one in Nashua, FIFI, is the longest flying B-29 in the world.
“For the guys who flew in these, they can come back now and they can
relive those young years in peacetime because when they were doing this at 18 to 20-years-old ,they had a real possibility of not coming home,” Mount said.
He said many who fought in World War II came from places where they may have never even seen an airplane, let alone an ocean. Yet, away they went, flying thousands of miles across either the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean.
“I can just imagine them looking out and looking around and thinking, ‘Boy, am I going to have some stories for mom and dad when I get home, if I get home,” Mount said.
The B-29 was first flown in 1942, beginning active service in 1944. It was designed as a replacement for the older B-17’s and B-24’s. The aircraft later helped bring an end to World War II and was used in the Korean War in the early 1950s.
Mount said officials take extra care of the plane because operating costs for the B-29 aren’t cheap, costing $11,500 an hour to operate. Fuel alone expires at a rate of 400 gallons per hour, and then there’s additional expenses such as hangar fees, insurance and maintenance.
Those interested can come by the airport daily until Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Boire Field control tower at 93 Perimeter Road, Nashua. It’s $10 for adults, $5 for youth 10 and older, while those under age 10 are admitted for free.
The pass is good for the entire day, in and out of the gate, and allows customers to tour the airplanes, walk around and get up close to them and take as many pictures as they’d like. Mount said CAF visits up to 30 cities per year.
“The CAF is a nonprofit organization,” Mount said. “We’ve been around since 1957 and our mission is to find World War II aircraft and restore them to flying condition. Then we take them around the country and educate people on what these looked like and what they did during the war.”
“But, it’s also a great opportunity for the children of the people who flew on these aircraft to come out and see maybe what dad had flown on in World War II,” he added.
Mount said even some of the little kids are totally up to speed, well aware of aviation and the planes they bring along on tour.
“The little kids – there are some little people that come into this airplane and know more about it than we do,” Mount said in reference to the B-29.
Aside from enthusiastic kids, he said over the years he’s heard all sorts of stories from folks filtering through the different tours they’ve given. One woman cried for just being inside the aircraft once the realization of what her father did for the country really hit home.
However, one story in particular stuck out to Mount about a gentlemen he met in St. Louis. He said his name was Bill, and that his 74-year-old son brought him out to the tour, dressing his dad, a former co-pilot, in his World War II jacket and hat. Mount said Bill was around 93, and once they got him up the ladder and into the co-pilot seat, his memories began to return.
“I said, ‘Well Bill…does any of this look familiar to you?’ And he’s looking around, and he says there’s the feather switches, there’s the trim wheel, there’s the artificial horizon and he just started naming off all the stuff,” Mount said.
Nonetheless, as Bill’s memories were rushing back to him, Mount looked up at Bill’s son and saw tears running down his face. Not thinking much of it at the time, Bill eventually got done inside the cockpit and made his way out of the aircraft and back to the ground.
“He was kind of frail, but we got him out, and his son came back up the ladder and grabbed my hand and he says, ‘I can’t thank you enough for letting my dad sit in this seat,'” Mount said.
Normally CAF organizers do not let people sit in the cockpit where the co-pilot and pilot sit.
“I said, well you know what, for 93 your dad is a pretty sharp guy,” Mount said. “He says, Glenn, my dad doesn’t even know who I am. I went and got him from the assisted living today, brought him his jacket and his hat and told him we’re going to see a B-29, and he just looked at me and said, what’s that.”
However, once seated in the co-pilot’s chair, it all came back and he knew the controls.
“It’s those types of stories and those type of people that we get to talk to, and that’s the draw. That’s what keeps you coming back,” Mount said.
Information on the event and booking rides can be found at, www.airpowersquadron.org. Also, more information on CAF can be found at www.commemorativeairforce.org.
Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.