WWII bomber plane takes to the skies over Chicago

If you looked up in the air Monday, you might have thought Chicago was under attack. That’s because one of the greatest bomber planes of World War Two was making a rare appearance in our skies.

The B-29 super fortress was flying from Kankakee to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where it will be on display this week at the Experimental Aircraft Association's Annual Fly-in.

"FIFI" is one of two remaining B-29's from World War Two still flying, turning heads today at the Kankakee airport en route to the Experimental Aircraft Association Convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

FOX 32: You're going to be flying this plane?

"It's an honor actually. Very few of us have an opportunity to do so,” said pilot Allen Benzing.

Benzing says Boeing manufactured nearly four thousand B-29's near the end of World War Two. They called them Superfortresses -- the first pressurized bombers that could fly high, far and fast and deliver 20-thousand pounds of bombs, including the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

"Of course when you got to Japan it was fighters, flack. They were at high risk of being shot down,” Benzing said.

If the view looks familiar, it's because George Lucas modeled Star Wars' Millennium Falcon after the B-29.

The group that restored the plane and the same people flying it belong to something called the Commemorative Air Force. They're all volunteers. They love vintage planes. But they do it they say to honor those who flew the planes in combat.

"We fly these airplanes around the country bringing history to you instead of you having to come to a museum,” said Steve Schapiro of Commemorative Air Force.

Co-pilot Jeff Skiles was also co-pilot on the flight that became known as ‘The Miracle on the Hudson,’ and flies the Superfortress in his spare time.

"Well this is very old school. No autopilots, very heavy on the controls. You have to fly it all the time,” Skiles said.

The plane got the rock star treatment when it landed in Oshkosh. Among the admirers was 88-year-old Olig Edwards, who flew it just after the war.

"It looks great. Sometimes I want to cry,” Edwards said. "There was such a rich amount of history connected to everything you did."

"We still to this day have some who come up and say I was a pilot or a flight engineer. And it's an honor to meet them,” Benzing said.
FIFI will be joined at the EAA Convention this week by "Doc" -- the only other B-29 that still flies. It's the first time two B-29's have appeared together in more than a half century.

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