B-29 "Doc" Ready For Engine Startup

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The restoration team working on the B-29 Superfortress “Doc” will go on live webcam Friday morning for the first engine startups. The event will start at 8 a.m. CT in Wichita, where Doc is undergoing work at its hangar. Tom Bertels, a Doc’s Friends board member, told AVweb in an email Thursday the team wants to get all four engines running. “The goal is to power up each engine to idle speed in order to verify that everything is in order and operating within expected operating envelopes,” he said. “If all goes as planned, after each engine is started and observed by itself, we will start all four so that Doc will once again be under full power.” In preparing for the startup, Doc has undergone work on the fuel system and leak checks, and each engine has had turbocharger casings installed. “This will be a huge milestone for the people who have invested so many hours of their lives to restore the B-29,” Bertels said. 

Meanwhile, the FAA has reviewed inspection plans for the B-29 and the board is awaiting approval for an airworthiness certificate. As soon as it’s in, the board will submit its request to the U.S. Air Force to use nearby McConnell Air Force Base for flight testing. It’s hoped that the aircraft and the paperwork will be completed to allow a first flight by the end of the year. A Kickstarter fundraising campaign will launch in the coming weeks to raise money for the flight tests. Doc, which was one of a squadron of World War II-era airplanes named after Snow White’s seven dwarfs, has undergone restoration work off and on since 1987. Only one other B-29, Fifi, is flying.