Gateway Airport event tour offers close-ups of rare war planes - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Gateway Airport event tour offers close-ups of rare war planes

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Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 5:32 pm

The Commemorative Air Force’s Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber, FIFI — the only remaining flight ready example of the aircraft in the world — will visit Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Thursday, Feb. 28 through Sunday, March 3.

The Boeing B-29 Superfortress, first flown in 1942 and began active service in 1944, 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.

The airplane will be accompanied by another famous World War II bomber, the B-17 Flying Fortress, Sentimental Journey, and a P-51 Mustang, Man O’ War.

The visit is part of the CAF AirPower History Tour featuring an ever-changing combination of CAF historic warbirds at each of its 11 stops throughout the southwest United States. Its mission is to tell the story of World War II military aircraft and to honor the American men and women of the time.

On top of the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and P-51 Mustang, the B-29 will also be accompanied by a C-45 Expeditor, Bucket of Bolts; a Navy SNJ (T-6 Texan) and Navy N2S (PT-17 Stearman).

The AirPower Squadron 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, B-17 Flying Fortress, B-25 Mitchell along with an assortment of fighters, trainers and liaison aircraft.

The aircraft will be on the ramp at Gateway Aviation Services, 5803 S. Sossaman Road in Mesa. Gates are open from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Feb. 28 and 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. thereafter.

Admission is $10 per person; $20 for families with children 17 and under; and free for children 10 years old and younger.

Cockpit tours of the B-29 and B-17 will be available for free with paid admission when the aircraft are not in motion. This is generally from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.

Attendees can also purchase rides in the airplanes; costs range from $65 to $595, but there is a discount if purchasing seats online.

Visit the tour website at www.AirPowerTour.org or call (432) 413-4100 for more information about the tour schedule and to make ride reservations.

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