The Boeing B-29 Superfortress was one of the most recognizable and technically advanced airplanes during World War II. Go inside the cockpit and fly one of the last surviving models, nicknamed FIFI. USA TODAY NETWORK
There are only two operational Boeing B-29 Superfortresses in the world. FIFI is one of them.
She is nearly identical to the Enola Gay and Bockscar, the airplanes that dropped atomic bombs on Japan in 1945, contributing to the end of World War II.
While FIFI didn’t fight during the war, a flight on her is a unique trip back in time.
“I can’t say it was a dream come true because I’d never dreamed of doing anything like this,” B-29 pilot Mark Novak remarked.
B-29 Superfortresseses were used for combat missions in the Pacific Theater during World War II. The planes were pushed into production before testing, so they were plagued by engine problems. It’s estimated that more aircraft were lost due to engine failure than enemy action.
Despite its mechanical setbacks, B-29s were one of the most technologically advanced airplanes of its time, featuring a pressurized cabin and remotely controlled guns. They boast over 8,000 horsepower, surpassing the entire starting lineup of the Indy 500. Hear FIFI’s (restored) engine roars with VRtually There in the video below.
FIFI was used as a training airplane before being placed at a U.S Navy weapons test center in the Mojave Desert. She was going to be used as a missile target. In the early 1970s she was rescued by the Commemorative Air Force (CAF). The organization selected her from a group of approximately thirty B-29s because she had the least broken glass.
CAF works to preserve United States military aircraft to honor the men and woman who flew and built them. Instead of storing warbirds in a museum, CAF brings history to tarmacs around the country. After undergoing an extensive restoration, FIFI now flies to cities across America, where people can see her up close and even climb aboard for a flight.
When flying on a B-29, the bombardier seat is often called the best seat in the house given the panoramic views the front glass provides.
See for yourself in the video above.
For the ideal experience, view in 360 degrees on your mobile phone or in VR headsets such as Google cardboard or Daydream. Subscribe to VRtually There on YouTube and browse the “Virtual Reality” section of the USA TODAY app (iOS |Android) or download our VR Stories Daydream app to catch three new episodes every week.
And whatever you do, don't forget to look around.