MONROE, La. (KTVE/KARD) — A piece of military history has called Monroe Regional Airport home for the past week. Before “Doc” left the ArkLaMiss, we wanted to give you a unique view of the Twin Cities from the skies.
“Doc is one of 1,644 aircraft built by the Boeing Company in Wichita, Kansas during World War II, said Josh Wells, executive director and general manager of the B-29 “Doc.”
“‘Doc” is one of two still flying today, FIFI is the other flying B-29 Superfortress based in Meacham, Texas. We’re out of Wichita, Kansas. We come out across the country every year. We want people to get up close and personal with the aircraft, touch it, feel it, smell it, kiss it if they want; because that’s why we restored it, for people to understand the history and the magnificent machine that’s here.”
The B-29 Superfortress “Doc” is a piece of living history. The plane’s restoration was a painstaking effort, taking over 400 thousand man hours and 16 years to restore. “Doc” now flies looking as new as the day it was first commissioned
“They parked it from 1945 to 1956, that’s when the Air Force operated it and then from 1956 to 2000 it sat in the desert. And from 2000 to 2016 it was in Wichita, so between its last flight and when we flew our first flight in it it was 60 years,” said Chief Pilot Mark Novak
For a plane this size, to be exposed to the desert elements for so long, “Doc” is an anomaly. Novak says restorations like this are extremely rare. Only one other B-29 still flies, and they can only be piloted by an elite, exclusive group.
“Right now there’s 8 of us worldwide that can fly this aircraft as an aircraft commander. We have about a dozen to fifteen copilots so less than 25 people in the entire world are qualified in this airplane,” said Novak.
A special guest was also aboard “Doc’s” final flight in the Arklamiss.
The City of Monroe gave belated honors to World War II veteran pilot Sgt. John Benjamin Humphry with a proclamation of a day in his name on November 10th, 2020- Humphry’s 100th birthday.
“Some people are lucky, that’s what it is. Otherwise somebody had a hand on their shoulder,” chuckled Humphrey on the occasion.
“Doc’s” last victory lap over the twin cities concludes a brief visit that’s hopefully not its last. If you did miss out on the experience officials are hoping to bring Doc back to the ArkLaMiss sometime next fall.
For now it continues on its tour of the south with stops in Mobile, New Orleans, and Houston before flying back home to Wichita.