The B-29 Superfortress “Doc” came alive Friday morning as the restoration team fired up each engine for the first time – persisting through 15 tense minutes when no. 2 failed to start after multiple attempts. The event, captured on webcam from Wichita, marked the start of a series of test runs before the Superfortress gets its airworthiness certificate. Doc, one of a squadron of B-29s named after Snow White’s Seven Dwarfs, underwent restoration work off and on in Wichita until 2013, when the non-profit group Doc’s Friends formed to see the project to completion.
According to the crew, the temperamental engine was running rich with a sticky lever, but they kept the battery alive and got it started after the other three engines were running. Tony Mazzolini, who discovered Doc in the Mojave Desert in 1987 and moved it in pieces to Wichita in 2000, was in the cockpit. “It was a very emotional moment, I was keeping my fingers crossed,” he said during the broadcast. “All of the work, the quality work that was done up until now, it paid off.” The team will conduct a series of engine tests before the first taxi. A first flight is slated by the end of the year.