Amy Cunningham
The only airworthy B-29 Superfortress still in existence will be the star of the show at this weekend’s Commemorative Air Force Heart of America Wing Air Expo held at New Century Airport.
The B-29 Bomber, best known as the plane to detonate two nuclear bombs over Japan near the end of World War II, will be on display with 20 other military planes – including the P-51 gunfighter, the most popular WWII-era plane – at the 10th annual CAF HOA sponsored expo.
In addition to aircraft on display, visitors will also find vintage military vehicles, a veterans table where veterans will give oral histories of their military experiences and 1940s-era re-enactors dressed like Harry Truman and General Douglas MacArthur. Attendees will be treated to the musical stylings of the Moonlight Serenade Orchestra at 11 a.m. The KC Bettys, a group of local women who dress in period clothes will perform a song and dance to 1940s-era music and remain on hand for the expo.
With more than 8,000 members and a fleet of 156 airplanes, the CAF is a group of private citizens from across the country that collect, restore and fly vintage historical aircraft. The group has been around for more than 50 years and is one of the largest private air forces in the world.
Kim Pardon, a member of the local division of the CAF, the Heart of America Wing said her group has been hosting the expo for more than a decade. She believes members are motivated to put the show on because they have a love for old military airplanes and they have a commitment to honor the people who built, flew and designed the planes.
“They were all heroes; we’re honoring our heroes,” she said. “I think we want to keep the story of these air planes alive; we want to remind people who don’t know that much about WWII or Korea about the sacrifices these men made for our freedom.”
FIFI, as the B-29 is affectionately known, will arrive in style Thursday before the show kicks off for the weekend. The CAF HOA has invited World War II B-29 crewmembers from around the region to a luncheon honoring their efforts and paying homage to this one-of-a-kind aircraft.
“They’re amazing people, most of them are in their 90s – we’ll have 25 coming in from around this region. We’ve got a woman who worked in Wichita at the Boeing plant who built the cable systems (for the planes). She’s going to take a ride in the B-29,” Pardon said.
The event takes place from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on July 16 and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on July 17. FIFI’s crew will be selling rides and cockpit tours starting July 15. The P-51 Gunfighter will also sell rides Friday through Sunday.  A pancake breakfast will be held at 7 a.m. on July 16.
For information, visit:

The Sentimental Journey made an appearance at the airshow in 2008. File photo