B-29 Bomber ’Doc,’ once partially constructed and then restored by Newton resident and “Rosie the Riveter” Connie Palacioz, will fly over Butler County and central Kansas towns with aircraft from McConnell Air Force Base for “Operation America Strong” on May 6.
Team McConnell is scheduled to perform a series of community flyovers for Operation America Strong beginning at 10 a.m. The flyover is estimated to pass over Andover at 10:50 a.m. and El Dorado at about 10:55 a.m.
A flight of two KC-135 Stratotankers and a KC-46 Pegasus from McConnell, followed closely by Wichita’s own B-29 Superfortress “Doc,” will fly over local communities and hospitals to salute first responders, military members and essential personnel who are working on the frontlines to combat the coronavirus.
The flightpath will bring the aircraft over Wichita, Derby, Newton, Andover, Garden Plain, Haysville and El Dorado, including 11 local hospitals. The flyover will last approximately one hour.
At the age of 18, Palacoiz joined the workforce at Boeing in Wichita as a riveter on the B-29 Superfortress during WWII. She was part of the team that manufactured the B-29 known as “DOC” in 1944. Starting in 2000, she became a member of a volunteer team who restored the bomber, seeing it take flight after 16 years.
Wednesday “Doc” will make an appearance over Newton and central Kansas hospitals.
“Team McConnell takes great pride in being part of this community,” said Col. Richard Tanner, 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to show our appreciation and solidarity to the thousands of heroes who are working tirelessly to battle COVID-19.”
The flyover salute is a total force effort between the 22nd ARW, the Air Force Reserve 931st Air Refueling Wing and the Kansas Air National Guard 184th Wing, all located on McConnell Air Force Base.
The flight also symbolizes over 70 years of aviation in the air capital of the world, featuring the Air Force’s newest tanker and the World War II heavy bomber.
“We are humbled and honored to join our nation’s warfighters at McConnell Air Force Base and be a part of Operation American Strong to salute those who have been battling the virus on the front lines, as well as to recognize those essential workers who have been keeping the grocery store shelves stocked, making deliveries and keeping our communities going during the pandemic,” said Josh Wells, Doc’s Friends, Inc., executive director and general manager.
Air Force flyovers are conducted at no additional cost to the taxpayer and serve as training for pilots.