Tophog, thanks for posting the youtube link. Gave me some back ground on Doc before it came to Boeing Wichita when we received it for the restoration. Some great pics, would have liked to have been in on that portion of the rescue also. Never got the chance to actually get inside FiFi but sure enjoyed being able to tow her to the taxi way for flight. Not many folks today can say they have towed a B-29 Super Fortress. Towed a LOT of aircraft in my time at Boeing to include the Presidential AF-1 747 and a Russian Antonov 124 cargo plane. Doc still stands out from those !
The links and videos don't really tell the Ridgecrest chapter.
Dragging it across 37 miles of desert required 3 days and the help of approx. 100 people, along with trucks and a Cat supplied by US Rentals.
We had to build temporary bridges across sand washes, using railroad ties. Once a wash was crossed, we dismantled the bridge and raced to the next wash! Edison had to raise power lines at appropriate spots, and the Highway Patrol closed and escorted us up Hwy. 395 for a couple miles.
After securing the plane on donated land, Tony Mazzolini put out a request for volunteers to help start a new museum, with 'Doc' as the centerpiece. So we started USAM (United States Air Museum).
24 hour security was needed until the area was fenced, so we volunteers stood 8 hour shifts.
Fencing, office trailers, portable lighting, etc. were all donated by local businesses. I donated signage and lettered the huge water tank on the property, since I had a sign business at the time.
Volunteers were assigned positions within the museum. I was supposed to be in charge of all signage and paint restoration.
Once the 'museum' was in operation, including a couple French air force fighters donated by a local collector, things changed.
Late one night, the locks were changed, and members were denied access. Unmarked trucks and crews arrived, dismantled 'Doc' over the next couple days, loaded it up on flatbeds and hauled it off to Wichita! No locals were notified beforehand, so we really felt screwed. Tony didn't even stick around to say "Kiss my ass!"
The one highlight was our grand opening.
The three surviving crew members of the Enola Gay, Col. Paul Tibbets, Maj. Thomas Ferrebee and Pvt. Richard Nelson, attended and that evening the museum volunteers were treated to a private dinner, with Col. Tibbets as the guest of honor.
Overall, it was an experience I would do again.