SAN MARCOS

Tim Black, a volunteer at the Centex Wing of the Commemorative Air Force in San Marcos, believes the CAF is like a time portal — once guests walk through the hangar door, they take a step back in history.

A Boeing B-29 Superfortress named “Fifi,” one of the rarest World War II bombers left in the world, is featured this week at the Centex Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, located at the San Marcos Municipal Airport. The B-29, C-45 “Bucket of Bolts” aircraft and the B-25 “Yellow Rose” fighting machine were all on display on the runway in front of the CAF museum, and guests had the unique opportunity to get up-close and personal with each of the planes — even taking a ride on the B-29 and B-25, for a price of course.

The planes will be at the CAF Centex Wing until Thursday morning, so volunteers with the organization are encouraging the public to come out and view the planes today before they leave. The hangar doors open at 9 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. Although the viewing is free, a recommended $3 donation is asked to ensure the aircraft will continue flying in the future.

Bill Frier, the operations officer for the CAF Centex Wing, said the organization established in 1973 is hosting the B-29 and C-45, which flew down to San Marcos from Midland on Monday morning. The B-25, among several other historical airplanes, is kept at the CAF Centex Wing museum.

“The airplanes will be here this week, and we are trying to raise money by selling rides on the airplanes,” Frier said, who said that prices can range anywhere from $450 to $1,595. “The money goes toward the Commemorative Air Force, and the rides can last for about 30 minutes. The neat thing about the B-29 is that it’s the only one left flying in the world.”

Frier, who believes that most people in the South Central Texas area have no idea the museum even exists, is hopeful the public will start to realize what exactly the CAF Centex Wing has to show.

“Our museum is a pretty well-kept secret in San Marcos,” Frier said. “Some people have lived here for 30 or more years and are surprised to find that we’re here. We just want to get the word out about this place. We know that there are a lot of veterans in the New Braunfels and Canyon Lake area who would love to see these planes.”

Steve Swift, one of the pilots for the B-29 aircraft, decided to volunteer on Monday afternoon at the CAF Centex Wing to show people the very rare World War II bomber.

“This exact plane was used as a trainer during the ‘40s, but this type was the one used to bomb Japan,” Swift said. “There were over 3,000 built, but this is the only one left that actually flies. Also, we do at the very least 50 hours of maintenance per flight hour. I think having these planes here today is a tribute to not only the combat crews who flew in them, but also to the people who built them. People can watch the history channels and learn about these planes, but here — you get an actual firsthand appreciation for them.”

For more information about the Centex Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, located at the San Marcos Municipal Airport at 1841 Airport Drive Building 2249 in San Marcos, visit www.cafcentex.com or call (512) 396-1943.

(1) comment

Jim ALSTON

I happened to visit the Midland CAF while Fifi was being rebuilt - donated to the project and thus became a "plank owner" on her. America needs to protect and preserve this bird as one of the most important planes ever built. Not only did she lead the way on high altitude bombing, but also on large pressurized passenger aircraft and helped pave the way for our modern air transportation system.

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