Texas inventor and industrialist Joe Jamieson has pledged $2 million to help return the Commemorative Air Force’s B-29 to flight. Fifi is the world’s only flyable B-29, but is currently grounded due to safety issues.
In July, the CAF announced that the airplane wouldn’t fly until $3 million was raised to custom fit the plane with a more reliable version of the engines currently on the plane. The announcement of Jamieson’s pledge was made in October at the general membership meeting prior to the FINA-CAF AIRSHO 2006.
Jamieson has a bachelor’s degree in aeronautics from Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology, Saint Louis University. He’s an airframe and power plant mechanic, a former Air Force pilot, an air transport pilot, an inventor and an industrialist who focuses his efforts on enhancing the safety of transportation systems. Designing and manufacturing devices from an autopilot control system for jet-powered helicopters to an automated safety hitch for trailers, his inventions are aimed at keeping people safer when operating aircraft, vehicles and equipment.
“New engines for the B-29 make its operation safer, so it’s therefore reasonable for Mr. Jamieson to pledge some money to help make it happen,” said Raeleen Behr, public relations for Jamieson’s company, American Automation Technologies, Inc.
The B-29 was originally fitted with the Wright R-3350-57AM engine, which has had a less-than-desirable reputation since its inception. True to this reputation, Fifi has experienced numerous engine problems in the 30-plus years she’s been flying with the CAF. The most recent problems surfaced in June, after several days of crew training flights.
After the flights, a check of the engine oil revealed metal shavings—a sign of damage. Following that discovery, the B-29/B-24 Squadron met with CAF personnel and outside experts in the field of aircraft restoration. The decision was made to not fly the plane again until it could be refitted with new engines. The plan is to combine R-3350-95W and R-3350-26WD engines to custom build engines for the B-29.
The pledge by Jamieson still leaves the campaign $1 million short of the goal.
“Mr. Jamieson’s pledge is a tremendous jumpstart for our campaign to make Fifi airworthy again,” said Rusty McInturff, CAF vice president of development. “However, we still have a long way to go. Every donation is important, regardless of the amount.”
For more information about Fifi and the Commemorative Air Force, or to learn how to make a donation, visit [http://www.commemorativeairforce.org].