When the CAF wanted to obtain a B-29, they found that none were available, not even at the USAF boneyard. A few years later, an airline pilot spotted what looked like B-29's sitting in the desert at the China Lake Navy base. That lead turned out to be accurate. A number of B-29's have been pulled out of the desert, with Fifi being the first to fly. Doc may fly shortly, and Kermit Weeks owns a B-29 that is a candidate to be returned to flight.
Update—as of April, 2006, Fifi has had a tough 18 months. She suffered a engine fire, which put her down for maintenance. That engine was changed out. Shortly after that, two other engines were found to be making metal in the oil, so they went for overhaul. The engines came back, were hung on the airplane, then test run. Engine oil analysis shows yet more metal. At this point, it looks like the only solution is to totally re-engine Fifi. This is technically a relatively easy task, and the engines are available. The biggest issue is money. The CAF has made a huge investment in Fifi in dollars, time, and fund raising to have her totally refurbished over the past few years. No one knows where money for engines will come from.
Update—as of July 15, 2010, Fifi is very close to making its first flight after the re-engine program. She has been cleared by the FAA and by the CAF safety officer. At this point, the FAA is reviewing their crew procedures, but the aircraft is ready to go.
Update—Fifi flies! She took to the air on August 6, 2010, but experienced an engine problem that damaged some of the cylinders on the #2 engine. The engine was repaired, and she had a successful flight on September 24, 2010.
The photo below is Fifi parked at the Outagamie Country Regional Airport in Appleton, Wisconsin, on July 28, 2012. Fifi was in Wisconsin for the annual Oshkosh Airventure convention and airshow sponsored by the EAA. She operated out of Appleton in order to have a little more room to operate since she was doing tours and fan flights.