Log In

Reset Password

B- 29 bomber brings airplane enthusiasts to Lehigh Valley International Airport

A sleek, shiny, legendary airplane spent a few days attracting attention to herself at one of the back street tarmacs behind Hangar 10 at Lehigh Valley International Airport, open for passengers on short flights and ground tours May 9 to 12.

Old and young alike were captivated by her charm, which still radiates after 79 years since she was riveted together in Wichita, Kan., in 1944.

Allentown resident Eric Evans came to visit because he is a serious airplane history buff.

“I’m here to see the B-29,” he said, arriving at the airport. “I can’t wait.

“There’s only two left in the world and this is one of them, so you can’t miss it,” he said. “I saw the other one about 30 years ago, ‘Fifi.’ They’re just amazing planes to me.

“I mean, I just love airplanes. I have a ton of books on every plane you can imagine, so I could not pass this up.”

The fully restored and airworthy WW II-era bomber was christened “Doc” by a base commander who was a fan of the Walt Disney film “Snow White,” explained Josh Wells, the executive director of the nonprofit organization that owns “Doc.”

“Our mission is to honor the legacies of the Greatest Generation and the stories of those who designed, built, flew and maintained these historic warbirds to protect freedom,” Wells told visitors.

In this way, the B-29 Superfortress bucks the typical feminine-theme nose art popular on other aircraft. She sports a picture of the Walt Disney character and patriarch of the Seven Dwarfs, “Doc.”

Wells said his team gives the 80,000-pound “Doc” 150 hours of maintenance every year.

A group of friends from New Jersey had come to see the iconic WW II bomber.

“My dad was in the Pacific during WW II,” said Steve Bongardino, a group member.

“My husband is interested in WW II airplanes,” said Lynn Minto, another member, referring to her husband, Ed.

“It’s pretty amazing. I appreciate the technology for its time,” said Ed Minto.

John was there with his wife, Stephanie, and daughters Liberty HS student Madison and recent Moravian University graduate Savannah. They were shopping for T-shirts at the souvenir shop set up under a pop-tent.

Corrine Niebell, of Northampton, who home schools her children, said she used the occasion for a history field trip for her children.

A brief history

of “Doc”

The “B-29 Doc” website spells out the history of the airplane.

“Doc is a B-29 Superfortress and one of 1,644 manufactured in Wichita during World War II. Since 1987 when Tony Mazzolini found Doc on sitting and rotting away in the Mojave Desert, plans have been in the works to restore the historic warbird to flying status to serve as a flying museum.”

Over the past 15+ years, hundreds of volunteers have worked on Doc and the restoration project. Skilled workers and retirees from Wichita’s aviation industry, veterans, active duty military and others wanting to honor those who served, have spent tens of thousands of hours on Doc’s restoration. Countless individuals and organizations also made financial and in-kind contributions to keep the project going.

A view from inside the cockpit of “Doc,” the B-29 Superfortress.
PRESS PHOTOS BY DOUGLAS GRAVES The Superfortress B-29 bomber, “Doc,” drew aviation and history buffs to the Lehigh Valley International Airport recently.
The B-29 was powered by four Wright R-3350 Duplex-Cyclone radial engines, each producing around 2,200 horsepower.
Savannah Labukas, a recent Moravian University graduate, chose a souvenir T-shirt to remember the occasion.
Corrine Niebell, of Northampton, home schools her children and said she used the occasion for a history field trip.
“Doc” is a B-29 Superfortress and one of 1,644 manufactured in Wichita during World War II. Only two remain airworthy today.