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SUN ’n FUN Today -

Issue 6 — Sunday April 1, 2012

Flying ‘FIFI’

April 1, 2012

Publishers John “Lites” Leenhouts Ben Sclair Editorial Staff Meg Godlewski Janice Wood Advertising Larry Price Mickey Price PRODUCTION Russell Kasselman Distribution Arthur Ward Paulette Ward Contributing Writers J. Douglas Hinton Deb McFarland Jack Neubacher SUN ’n FUN Today is published each day of the SUN ’n FUN Fly-In by Flyer Media, Inc., publishers of General Aviation News and Living With Your Plane. Copies of SUN ’n FUN Today are distributed free of charge throughout the fly-in grounds. Subscriptions to General Aviation News, $35.00 for two years (at the fly-in). Visit our exhibit space, C-62. The views and opinions contained herein do not necessarily reflect those of SUN ’n FUN Fly-In, Inc. Neither SUN ’n FUN Fly-In, Inc., nor Flyer Media, Inc. endorse or sanction the products advertised herein, and do not assume responsibility for such advertising. © 2012 Flyer Media, Inc., SUN ’n FUN Fly-In, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction of photos or articles by any means is prohibited without written consent.

By JANICE WOOD One of the stars of this year’s SUN ’n FUN is, without a doubt, “FIFI,” the Commemorative Air Force’s B-29. Just out of a six-year restoration, “FIFI,” the only airworthy B-29 in the world, has been touring the country, making more than 100 ride flights last year, said Stephan­Brown, CAF president. And while the historic bomber is 68 years old, the PIC is just 29 years old. “This is the new face of the CAF,” said Brown, introducing pilot David Oliver, as

well as co-pilots Debbie Travis King and Tracey Trothe. “We are often viewed as a good old boys club, but that is not who we are,” Brown said. “We are about the mission.” And that mission is to honor American military aviation through flight, exhibition and remembrance. As it prepares to celebrate its 55th anniversary, CAF is looking to the future. What began in 1957 when Lloyd P. Nolen and a small group of ex-service pilots pooled their money to buy a P-51 Mustang, has grown into the world’s premiere Warbird organization, operating 156 vintage aircraft around the country. As the group has evolved — changing its original name Confederate Air Force to Commemorative Air Force as just one sign of those changes — officials realized they needed to do a better job of getting their message out to the public. “We are one of the most dynamic aviation organizations out there,” Brown said, noting that in the past, the group wasn’t really known in the general aviation community. To boost visibility, CAF teamed with country music star Aaron Tippin — who is also a passionate aviator — to launch the “Red, White & Loud” tour, in which he plays concerts in front of “FIFI” at airshows and other venues. CAF also created the RISE ABOVE exhibit, a traveling movie theater that plays a documentary telling the story of


• CAF has 70 Wings in 28 states, with 9,000 members. • It operates 156 aircraft. • It’s jewel, “FIFI,” costs $9,000 an hour to fly. • CAF is celebrating its 55th anniversary this year.

the Tuskegee Airmen. It has been on the Warbird Ramp all week. The week before SUN ’n FUN it traveled to schools in the area, presenting the documentary and the message to reach for your dreams, to hundreds of children. One of those who achieved his dream was Oliver, who recalls seeing “FIFI” as a 13-year-old boy at Oshkosh. “I was enamored by the plane and its story,” he said. “Fast forward to 2011 and I got the chance to fly ‘FIFI’ into Oshkosh. That speaks to how important it is for young people to become involved in the history of our country. I hope that one day my grandson will get to see ‘FIFI’ fly into Osh­kosh and then some day he can fly ‘FIFI’ into Oshkosh. We want to continue to tell that story — that’s our mission.” See “FIFI” on the Warbird Ramp, as well as the Commemorative Air Force’s tent.

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Life is Flying

April 1, 2012 SUN 'n FUN Today  

The April 1, 2012 edition of SUN 'n FUN Today produced daily during the show in Lakeland, Florida.