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It's been more than a dozen years since Doc, a World War II-era bomber, was delivered to Wichita for restoration work with an ultimate goal of having it fly again.
That project has received a major boost with a group of business leaders who are getting behind the effort, and the formation of a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization, which will raise funds.
The board of Doc's Friends includes Spirit AeroSystems CEO Jeff Turner, Charlie Chandler of Intrust Bank, Vic McMullen of Spirit, Ryan Aviation founder Ron Ryan, Brad Gorsuch of Boeing, Yingling Aviation President Lynn Nichols, developer Steve Clark and former Cessna CEO Jack Pelton.
The plane was built in Wichita in 1944. It was brought back to town by aviation enthusiast Tony Mazzolini. Volunteers have been working on it for more than a decade. At a news conference Monday, Mazzolini seemed to allude to the advanced ages of the people who built and flew the plane in its heyday, and his desire to finish the job for them.
"We're all running on life's runway and I want to make sure that this is done before that happens," Mazzolini said.
Doc's Friends wants to raise an additional $3 million to $5 million dollars for the restoration work, which will include completely rebuilt engines and fuel bladders. They hope to have the bomber back in the sky in two years.
To project manager Jim Murphy the plane looks almost brand-new. Several volunteers, most of whom are retired aircraft workers, have spent hundreds of man-hours on the project.
"The reason that they're here is because they have a love for aviation," Murphy said.
For more information about the project and how to volunteer or donate, visit www.b-29doc.com.