HomeNewsArticle Display

Grandson of Enola Gay pilot flies refurbished B-29

Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets IV, 509th Bomb Wing commander, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., conducts pre-flight checks on Doc, a restored B-29 Superfortress, June 9, 2017, on McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. Tibbets’ grandfather, retired Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets Jr., piloted the ‘Enola Gay,’ during WWII and dropped the world’s first atomic bomb used in warfare. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Tara Fadenrecht)

Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets IV, the 509th Bomb Wing commander from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., conducts pre-flight checks on Doc, a restored B-29 Superfortress, June 9, 2017, on McConnell AFB, Kan. Tibbets IV’ grandfather, retired Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets Jr., piloted the ‘Enola Gay,’ during World War II and dropped the world’s first atomic bomb used in warfare. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Tara Fadenrecht)

Mark Novak, left, a B-29 Superfortress pilot and Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets IV, 509th Bomb Wing commander, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., pose for a photo inside Doc, a restored B-29 Superfortress, June 9, 2017, on McConnell AFB, Kan. Tibbets’ grandfather, retired Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets Jr., piloted the B-29 during WWII. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Tara Fadenrecht)

Mark Novak, left, a B-29 Superfortress pilot and Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets IV, right, the 509th Bomb Wing commander from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., pose for a photo inside Doc, a restored B-29 Superfortress, June 9, 2017, on McConnell AFB, Kan. TibbetsIV’ grandfather, retired Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets Jr., piloted the B-29 during World War II. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Tara Fadenrecht)

Doc, a restored B-29 Superfortress, takes-off June 9, 2017, from McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets IV, 509th Bomb Wing commander, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., co-piloted Doc, during this flight. Tibbets piloted the aircraft to Whiteman AFB for an airshow. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Rachel Waller)

Doc, a restored B-29 Superfortress, takes off June 9, 2017, from McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets IV, the 509th Bomb Wing commander from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., co-piloted Doc, during this flight. Tibbets IV piloted the aircraft to Whiteman AFB for an airshow. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Rachel Waller)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. (AFNS) -- Wichita’s beloved B-29 Superfortress, Doc, took to the skies yet again June 9, 2017, from McConnell Air Force Base, this time with an added aspect of historical significance and Air Force heritage.

Sitting in the co-pilot seat was Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets IV, the 509th Bomb Wing commander. Taking control of the aircraft means he has now flown the only two currently operational B-29s, Doc and Fifi.

In 1998, Tibbets IV, flew Fifi with his grandfather, retired Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets Jr., who piloted the B-29 Enola Gay when the aircraft and its crew dropped an atomic bomb on Japan, helping end World War II.

“The only time I ever flew with my grandfather was with Fifi,” said Tibbets IV. “He had given up aviation and had not flown in any aircraft in a very long time. He and I got to fly Fifi together, which was awesome. It was a great opportunity for me to be with him.”

Now, 72 years after the historic WWII mission and nearly 10 years after the passing of his grandfather, Tibbets IV, who is traditionally a B-1 Lancer pilot and currently a B-2 Spirit pilot, once again boarded a B-29 to honor his grandfather.

“It’s really about upholding the legacy of those who have come before,” he said. “When we have the opportunity to embrace that kind of heritage and that kind of history, it’s a real privilege and an honor.”

Before the flight, Doc’s pilot, Mark Novak, described the significance of having Tibbets IV on board.

“Doc is a piece of history, and the Tibbets name is historic because anyone who knows WWII knows about the general’s grandfather, Paul Tibbets Jr.,” said Novak. “I’ve known (Tibbets IV) for years and we’ll each get a turn to fly. It’ll be a great time to chat and catch up over our hour-long flight.”

Tibbets IV emphasized his appreciation for the time and effort the volunteers put into restoring Doc and bringing this piece of history back to life.

“When you think about Doc and you think about Fifi and all these warbirds that we have, they’re labors of love,” he said. “We’re excited for (the volunteers), and their continued work. They’re going to get to educate tens of thousands of people about the B-29 because they poured their heart and souls into this airplane. This helps us connect those that are here today to those that have come before us, and how important it is to understand what they did for us. This is what changed the world.”

The flight took Doc to Whiteman AFB, Missouri to be part of the Wings Over Whiteman Airshow and open house June 10th and 11th, to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Air Force.

Engage

Facebook Twitter
DYK: Aircraft have lifespans! Like humans, they require check-ups in the form of maintenance inspections to prolong their ability to fly. These "checks" prevent in-flight system failures which ultimately protects aircrew and passengers. Learn more from the 86th Maintenance Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany on what it takes to correct issues so aircraft can stay airborne.
WATCH: United States Air Force pilots talk about the importance of Exercise Saber Strike 18 as they refuel over the Baltic Sea on June 18, 2018. Saber Strike 18 is a long-standing training exercise designed to enhance interoperability between the U.S. and our allies. The training focused on improving land and air operational capabilities between the U.S. and our NATO allies. (U.S. Air National Guard video by: Master Sgt. Wolfram M. Stumpf)
Check out some shots from yesterday's All-Star Armed Services Classic Championship softball game in Washington, D.C. This event, part of MLB’s All-Star Week, pays tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces. Washington Nationals U.S. Army
Air Force and U.S. Army coed softball teams render military honors during the playing of the National Anthem during the All-Star Armed Services Classic Championship softball game, Washington, D.C., July 13, 2018. This event, part of MLB’s All-Star Week, pays tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces. Washington Nationals
Great way to lead by example!
The United States Air Force is facing a pilot shortage. To help solve the challenge, the Aircrew Crisis Task Force was recently created to provide strategic direction and actionable recommendations to senior leaders on how to solve the aircrew manning crisis. FULL STORY: https://go.usa.gov/xUb3z
Your United States Air Force news: ✓ A B-52 crew assists in a search and rescue operation off the coast of Guam ✓ An Afghan pilot class graduates in the Czech Republic ✓ The Air Force is using innovative approaches to training pilots to make the process faster and more efficient
Now that’s how weathermen work! Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters fly weather reconnaissance missions into Tropical Storm Chris and Tropical Storm Beryl. http://www.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/1569944/hurricane-hunters-fly-tropical-storms-beryl-chris/
The F-22 Raptor's combination of stealth, supercruise, maneuverability, and integrated avionics, coupled with improved supportability, represents an exponential leap in warfighting capabilities. The F-22 cannot be matched by any known or projected fighter aircraft. Maintaining these aircraft can involve a bit of a learning curve. Airmen at KadenaAirBase use past technology to help learn how to work with the undefeated Raptor. FULL STORY: http://www.kadena.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/1567295/hard-to-raptor-head-around/
Help us out! Can you caption this photo?
The B-52 Stratofortress has sniper pods that provide improved long-range target detection/identification and continuous stabilize surveillance for all missions, including close air support of ground forces. Air Force Global Strike Command crew members on a B-52 were able to spot a historic Pacific Island style canoe so that the U.S. Coast Guard could rescue the six passengers!
For the past 60 years, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has continually helped us maintain a technological edge against our advarsaries. Together with the Air Force Research Laboratory - AFRL, a fusion of ideas is leading to newly highlighted innovations.
SOUND ON! Celebrate freedom with the sound of freedom! Happy Independence Day!
RT @DeptofDefense: Prepared for all situations in all conditions. @AKNationalGuard #airmen with the 212th Rescue Squadron at @JBER_Officia
Happy Monday! Let's get this week off to a great start w/ #AirForce #WIP! https://t.co/rlP3y4NQ9k https://t.co/OlzebNB1lQ
After toggling with the idea of joining the #military for years, she promised herself to stop waiting for life to f… https://t.co/7Gt22iqNlD
It's #NationalAviationDay & new aviation opportunities are here! We're partnering with @CivilAirPatrol to groom tom… https://t.co/Fe9b4jlmGw
These supply #Airmen work 24/7 to ensure there is no break in the mission @RAFMildenhall because #NKAWTGhttps://t.co/biE2BPXVe1
Every #Airman has their reason for serving. Read on as these #Airmen explain what putting on the uniform everyday m… https://t.co/ubeDmY1liq
For the first time in the 63-year history of Operation Deep Freeze, #Airmen from the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Sq… https://t.co/CdeyI4HjHT
#DYK, the #MedalofHonor is the highest award for bravery that can be awarded to members of the United States Armed… https://t.co/qei2LbbD1I
.@388fw’s 4th Fighter Squadron became the first operational unit to fire the F-35A’s the #aircraft’s 25mm cannon on… https://t.co/J7hbXrCSCv
#DYK: The @22ARW is the host unit of McConnell AFB! Its mission is to conduct air refueling & airlift operations su… https://t.co/12bR9cwIuG
RT @71FTW: An aircraft crash has occurred approximately 50 miles west of Vance AFB. Pilot is conscious and with emergency responders. Follo…
.@HQUSAFEPA #Airmen & seven African partner nations strengthened relationships through the African Partnership Flig… https://t.co/FsvAK4n3i3
.@20FighterWing #Airmen learned how to be resilient by taking a leap of faith. https://t.co/WCgebfzEmj https://t.co/5JHPF7P1Px
RT @USAFHealth: A new transition cell was recently stood-up to coordinate and support ongoing transition efforts related to the NDAA and tr…
.@Travis60AMW #Airmen helped the Advanced Extremely High Frequency-4 program complete a major milestone by ensuring… https://t.co/yut12HK3M5
The School of Air Evacuation honored the history, present and future of aeromedical evacuation during their 75th an… https://t.co/5uYoyUwy9z
.@PANationalGuard #Airmen have new and improved parachutes. Read more about the lifesaving equipment:… https://t.co/QC1BGX8Fbl
At the @20FighterWing, munitions #Airmen train and work as a team to load 'em up & move 'em out.… https://t.co/9leaqRS8vI
Imagine trying to use a stethoscope on a plane. The noise makes the tool essentially useless. A new #technology aim… https://t.co/AYMf42Q0Wf
Read about this #Airman's experiences as he serves with the @Aus_AirForce through the Military Personnel Exchange P… https://t.co/6Td7p8u3ZO