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Wed, May 29, 2024

Warbird Pilot Caps Off 500 Hours of B-29 PIC Time

'Doc' Has a Busy Season Ahead of Itself Heading Into Summer

The warbird community celebrated Mark Novak, Chief Pilot of their B-29 'Doc', and his accomplishment of racking up 500 hours in the vintage bomber.

On top of that, Novak built up more than 300 hours of time flying the other B-29 'Fifi', making him the modern era's most experienced B-29 pilot. In celebrating the milestone, the details surrounding how one goes about becoming the world's foremost captain of a nearly extinct type certificate, unsurprisingly starts with 'who you know' like any cool piloting job.

"In 2011, a good friend of mine, David Oliver, said that Fifi was returning to flight after a 3-year re-engine project and needed pilots," Novak recalled. "I had attended Fifi ground school 15 years earlier and knew that volunteering on the B-29 would be a dream come true. I was retired from the Air Force and serving on the flight crew was exactly what I needed. That was 13 years ago and I'm so glad I said yes."

Novak had finished up his USAF time in the B-1 and KC-135 after 27.4 years there. He began cutting his teeth on Fiji, acting as PIC and IP for the aircraft over a 5-year span, all the while watching Doc's airframe slowly shake off its slumber. Once Doc left its restoration bay in 2016, Novak put in to become its Chief pilot as they went on to flight testing and flight ops - not the kind of thing one picks up as a vollie gig in their spare time. 

"Mark tells the story that when we asked our team of pilots who would be interested in serving as Doc's Chief Pilot, he was the slowest pilot to back away from the table…which of course draws smiles and chuckles from those on our team," said Josh Wells, B -29 Doc executive director. "The truth is, Mark is a phenomenal warbird pilot and a great leader, and he's laser-focused on safety and the long-term operation of B-29 Doc. That's what made him a natural fit to be our Chief Pilot."

"When we fly Doc to air shows and to tour stops across the nation, people get a chance to see our nation's history in a very unique and up-close way. I hope that some kid will see what we do with Doc and be inspired to learn to fly or get involved in aviation. Better yet, they can learn about our nation's history and the legacies of the Greatest Generation, and even their parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents who may have served in the warbirds we fly today."

FMI: www.b29doc.com

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