CAF AirPower History Tour Announces Spectacular Lineup for Second Half of Summer Tour

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B-29 Superfortress "FIFI" and B-24 "Diamond Lil" will travel together.

FIFI and Diamond Lil (Photo by Scott Slocum.)

FIFI and Diamond Lil (Photo by Scott Slocum.)

The Commemorative Air Force’s (CAF) famous Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber, "FIFI" – the only remaining flying example of the aircraft in the world – will be accompanied by impressive traveling companions as it tours the Midwest this summer. The CAF AirPower History Tour starts at Marion, Illinois July 20 featuring the B-29 and equally rare B-24 Liberator "Diamond Lil". From Marion the airplanes will travel to Rockford, Illinois for three days before moving on to Madison, Wisconsin July 26 for an unprecedented pre-Oshkosh event. There the two bombers will be joined by EAA’s B-17 "Aluminum Overcast" and the only flying Curtiss SB2C Helldiver in the world. After a visit to Oshkosh for EAA AirVenture, the tour will visit Duluth, Fargo, Sioux Falls, Denver and Kansas City.

Others joining "FIFI" and "Diamond Lil" at the different tour stops include the famous combat veteran P-51 Mustang "The Brat III"; P-51 Mustang "Gunfighter"; B-25 Mitchell "Show Me"; B-17 Flying Fortress "Sentimental Journey"; C-45 Expeditor "Bucket of Bolts"; and other World War II fighters, trainers and liaison aircraft.

Also, the magic and excitement of aviation in the 1930s has been reborn by visionary Sarah Wilson who will accompany the tour to most stops with her newly restored Stearman Speedmail. 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.

Events are open to the public and will allow attendees to get up close to these famous aircraft. Cockpit tours of the B-29 and others will be available when the aircraft are not in motion. There will be opportunities for attendees to purchase a ride in many of the airplanes at all of the stops. Ride reservations are recommended. Visit http://www.AirPowerTour.org for more information about the tour schedule and to make ride reservations.

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 AirPower History Tour:
The B-29/B-24 Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force brings together the aircraft, pilots and crews from 67 CAF units across the country to create 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, Curtiss SB2C Helldiver, B-17 Flying Fortress and B-25 Mitchell along with an assortment of fighters, trainers and liaison aircraft.

About the CAF B-29 Superfortress, "FIFI":
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.

"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" and her tour schedule at http://www.AirPowerTour.org.

About the CAF B-24A Liberator:
This aircraft, built in May 1941, is the 25th B-24 produced by Consolidated Aircraft at their San Diego facility. On a training flight from Eagles Nest Airport, N.M., prior to its delivery to England, AM-927 experienced a landing accident. The damage was major enough that the aircraft had to be returned to San Diego for repairs. As a result of the accident, she was converted to a personnel and cargo carrier. During the war this B-24 flew scheduled runs between San Diego, Fort Worth, New York, and Washington D.C. She also carried various American and foreign dignitaries within the U.S. In 1969 the aircraft was purchased by the CAF and, in 1971, she was painted in the colors and markings of the 98th Bomb Group, Pyramiders of the 9th Air Force in North Africa, and was named "Diamond Lil".

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.

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 10,000 members and a fleet of over 150 airplanes distributed throughout the country to 67 units located in 27 states for care and operation. For more information, visit http://www.commemorativeairforce.org.

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