Historic aircraft makes local appearance

B-29 bomber flying at Otay Mesa event

SAN DIEGO - A major piece of aviation history saved from destruction is flying high this week at an event in Otay Mesa.

Nicknamed "Fifi," the B-29 bomber was destined for the scrap heap until the Commemorative Air Force stepped in 1971.  

"The Navy had about 50 B-29's they were using as target practice in the Mojave Desert," said pilot Paul Maupin.

The B-29 was brought to Brown Field in Otay Mesa for a three-day event.  

"This particular plane was built just two weeks before the war with Japan ended, so it never went overseas and eventually was purchased by the Navy for target practice when we found it," said Maupin.

The B-29 bomber is in the history books for helping to end the war. Col. Paul Tibbets flew one named the Enola Gay off a Pacific island on August 6, 1945, with an atomic bomb aimed at Japan.

Two years later, a B-29 carried Chuck Yeager in the X-1 into the air, as the sound barrier was broken for the first time. The pilot at the controls of that flight was retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Bob Cardenas of San Diego.  

"My biggest nightmare was that when I gave the order to drop the X-1 it wouldn't drop," said Cardenas.

The X-1 was loaded with explosive liquid nitrogen. Carried below the belly of the bomber, the X-1 was about an inch off the ground. If he's up to it, Cardenas hopes to be aboard the B-29 at Brown Field when it goes up for two flights on Wednesday before the Air Power Tour takes off for the Palm Springs airport this weekend.

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