Aerospace History Lands in Tulsa: Museum Features Vintage World War II Bomber

Article excerpt

Shad Morris soared over downtown Tulsa early Thursday in a vintage World War II bomber and said there is no greater thrill than being in the cockpit of the huge war bird.

Morris, a Tulsan, served as flight engineer on the Boeing B-29 Superfortress as it came into Tulsa, landing at Tulsa International Airport.

The B-29 Superfortress, named Fifi, is part of the Commemorative Air Force. The massive bomber is parked at the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium for the weekend. The TASM is at 3624 N. 74th East Ave. on the north side of Tulsa International Airport.

On Wednesday through Oct. 7, the B-29 will be at Wiley Post Airport in Oklahoma City, said Kim Pardon, CAF spokeswoman.

Public hours begin at 9 a.m. Friday, said Kim Jones, TASM director.

"It is nice to have the Boeing B-29 Superfortress come in," Jones said.

With the B-29, Jones said she expects 10,000 visitors for the weekend.

"We are competing with the Tulsa State Fair, and we both are bucking the weather," Jones said.

The chance of rain is more than 50 percent this weekend.

The museum averages 65,000 to 75,000 visitors annually, Jones said. The majority of visits are from children on field trips.

In conjunction with the B-29's visit, the Tulsa-area food truck community will be at TASM for the first Food Truck Festival, featuring mobile eateries.

"From state fair favorites to gourmet, people will be able to purchase their favorite food Saturday and Sunday," Jones said.

Morris has about 35 hours in the B-29 this year - his first to fly Fifi.

Morris moved from Lubbock, Texas, to Tulsa to attend the Spartan School of Aviation 17 years ago. Today he operates his own construction business, Universal Exports.

"There is no greater thrill," Morris said. "The plane has a rich World War II history, and being it is from Texas, and I am from Texas, makes all that more special."

Morris earned his wings at Spartan, but his construction business was going so well that he made it his full-time work.

"But I've always worked around planes," Morris said.

It takes a minimum of $650,000 annually to keep the plane in the air, Pardon said.

"And that is before we put a gallon of aviation fuel in it," Pardon said.

The CAF is a nonprofit, so fundraising is a top priority, Pardon said. …