A news item in AVwebFlash has resulted in a major boost to a fundraising campaign that may put what was once the world's only flying B-29 back in the air. Texas inventor and industrialist Joe Jamieson has pledged $2 million toward a $3 million project to install more reliable engines in Fifi, owned and operated by the Commemorative Air Force. The plane has suffered engine problems since she rolled off the Boeing assembly line. The aircraft has Wright R-3350-57AM engines and last June, after discovering metal shavings in the oil, the CAF decided, for safety reasons, to ground the big bomber until more reliable engines could be installed. Jamieson, a former military and transport pilot, develops safety-related equipment for the transportation industry, so the donation is a good fit for him.
"New engines for the B-29 make its operation safer, so it is therefore reasonable for Mr. Jamieson to pledge some money to help make it happen," said Raeleen Behr, public relations specialist for Jamieson's company, American Automation Technologies Inc. The CAF already has the engines but getting them ready for installation is a major project. Technicians will combine R-3350-95W and R-3350-26WD engines, resulting in custom-built engines for the aircraft. While Jamieson's pledge has provided a major kick-start to the campaign, CAF spokesman Rusty McInturff noted that $1 million is still needed. "We still have a long way to go, and every donation is important, regardless of the amount," he said.