At the end of World War II, Dad was in training with his plane and his crew. They had orders to leave for Saipan in September 1945, when the war ended.
The plane was a B-29 Superfortress. He was the commander.
B-29s were being used to firebomb Japanese cities, night after night. Japan still wouldn’t surrender. B-29s were the huge planes that dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Decades later, only one B-29 was still flying in the US, named Fifi, which gave tours and rides throughout the country.
When I learned it was scheduled to be in Mason City, Iowa, we–Mom, my sis Gloria, and I–made plans to drive up from central Iowa to see it. In fact, we made motel reservations so we could be there when the plane landed at the airport.
We decided to scout out the airport and were chagrined to see the Superfort already on the ground.
Next morning, we were the first ones at the gate. I explained that Dad had piloted one during the war and that we’d made arrangements to be there when the plane came in. I also told them about Mom’s pilot brothers who were killed during the war.
He asked about writing I’d mentioned, and said that the plane would be there most of the week. He offered that if I could make arrangements to come back, I could fly with them as a journalist to Sioux Falls, SD, but that I’d need a ride home from there.
Wow. But how could I pull that off? Mom was nervous about it right away, and while we toured the plane, they were working on one of the engines.
“That’s a really old plane. What if more engines quit?”
Mom in the cockpit. Gloria and Mom by the tunnel over the bomb bay.
Me, Mom, and Gloria with FIFI.
I caught a really bad cold that week, plus I couldn’t figure out logistics to get to Mason City and home from Sioux Falls.
But even if the old warbird had crashed, I’d have a really interesting obituary.