Greetings from The Aero Experience Team


The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Commemorative Air Force AirPower History Tour Stops In St. Louis This Week

By Carmelo Turdo
The world's only flying World War II-era Boeing B-29 is now on display on the TAC Air ramp at Spirit of St. Louis Airport in Chesterfield, MO through this Sunday.  The bomber was named "Fifi" after the wife of Mr. Vic Agather, the man who financed the effort to make the aircraft airworthy enough to fly from a California desert scrap yard to Harlington, TX for further restoration.  The Commemorative Air Force includes "Fifi" in the AirPower History Tour that travels to St. Louis every few years.  Other aircraft on the tour include Beech C-45  Expeditor named "Bucket of Bolts" and the P-51D Mustang named "Gunfighter."  Rides in these aircraft can be arranged through the AirPower History Tour Signup web page. Special guest aircraft on the St. Louis tour is the TBM-3E Avenger from the Missouri Wing of the Commemorative Air Force based at St. Charles County Airport.

The B-29, once known as the only Very Heavy Bomber when it became operational in the Pacific Theater of Operations in 1944, is the type of aircraft that dropped the two atomic bombs on Japan to bring a quicker end to World War II.  After the war, some B-29s remained in service but they were replaced by the B-50 in the bomber, reconnaissance and tanker roles during and following the Korean War.  The B-29, "Fifi," was produced in 1945 and was not used in combat.  It served stateside in supporting roles until retired in 1958 to the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station range.  The Commemorative Air Force received the aircraft in 1971 and performed a lengthy restoration to flying status so that future generations can experience the aircraft in a more peaceful atmosphere.

The Aero Experience was pleased to meet World War II veteran Mr. Calvin Koelling and his family from Pacific, MO.  Mr. Koelling served in the U.S. Army in the Pacific Theater of Operations with the 38th Infantry Division in 1944-1945.  His unit participated in operations in New Guinea, The Philippines, and Luzon.  He was wounded in the fighting, and spent the remainder of his service time on Okinawa after the Japanese surrender.  Mr. Koelling said that he witnessed B-29 flights during his service and saw the bombers on Okinawa before he was discharged.  He remarked that he had an opportunity to fly in a B-29, but preferred to stay on the ground.  Today he also remained on the ground around the B-29 "Fifi," but was content to get a good look at her.  When offered a heart-felt thank you for his service, he gave the typical Greatest Generation reply, "I just did what anyone else would have done."  And he helped give the Western World another chance to be free for another two generations.  

The Commemorative Air Force AirPower History Tour will remain at Spirit of St. Louis Airport through Sunday, with flights available on Saturday and Sunday.  Special thank you goes out to the Commemorative Air Force, TAC Air St. Louis and the Koelling family for their hospitality.            

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