When the United States dropped atomic bombs on Japan toward the end of World War II, Boeing B-29 Superfortress aircraft carried out the missions.
The stop, intended to highlight the history of the planes, includes opportunities to examine the craft and hitch a ride, officials said.
“We really believe the B-29 FiFi is a national treasure,” Commemorative Air Force Pilot David Oliver said. “It’s been through so much. Our goal is to try and educate people” about the plane and its history.
Accompanying FiFi on the trip is a World War II era P-51 Mustang, The Brat III, owned by the Cavanaugh Museum; a C-45 Expeditor; and possibly, a Stearman Airmail, officials said.
The Commemorative Air Force is dedicated to honoring American military aviation through flights, exhibitions and remembrances.
Fees paid to tour and ride the aircraft benefit the air organization and the museum, also a nonprofit.
“We are very excited,” museum board president Carolyn Verver said. “The fact that this is the only B-29 today that’s still flying makes this tour very special.”
The first planes are expected to arrive around noon Sept. 18.
The B-29 Superfortress first took to the skies in 1942 and began active service about two years later.
The aircraft was used in the American firebombing campaign on Japan, but it made history for dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, prompting the enemy to surrender.
The B-29 was also used in the Korean War in the early 1950s and recognized as a staple of the U.S. Air Force until the late 1950s, records show.
Today, there are dozens of B-29s featured as static displays, but FiFi is the only one that remains on active flying status.
FiFi was acquired by the Commemorative Air Force in the early 1970s after she was spotted at the U.S. Navy Proving Ground at China Lake.
The airplane was being used as a missile target, records show.
“It took three or four years to get it airworthy,” Oliver said. “It required a constant restoration process.”
After the overhaul, the plane flew for about 30 years before officials decided in 2006 to conduct a complete re-do, replacing all four of its older engines with newer, custom ones.
FiFi returned to the skies in 2010, stopping at various points throughout the United States.
“We believe Tyler will be a great local stop,” Oliver said. “The airplane, during the air show season, is always in the midwest area.”
Mrs. Verver said the airplane’s last visit was about 13 or 14 years ago.
Visitors may tour the vintage planes from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., during regular museum hours. The cost for the tour, which includes admission to the museum, is $15 for adults, $7 for youth 12-17; $2 for children 6-12. Youngsters ages 5 and younger are free.
There is only one ride scheduled for the B-29, at 9 a.m. Thursday, but a second flight could be scheduled later than morning if all the seats are sold, officials said.
Prices for B-29 rides start at $595 per person at the museum or $570 if purchased online, and increase from there, depending on seating preference.
Rides aboard the C-45 and P51 are available on demand, as admissions are paid.
Prices to ride the C-45 start at $59 and go up; for the P51, prices are $1,995 for 30 minutes.
For more information and bookings, visit www.RideB29.com and click on the Tyler tour link.
To learn more about FiFi’s visit www.CAFB29B24.org. Details about the Commemorative Air Force can be found at www.commemorativeairforce.org.