August 3, 2011 — When the world’s only flying B-29 Superfortress last came to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in 1995, David Oliver was 13 years old and watched it land from the flight line.
But last week when “FIFI” touched down at Wittman Regional Airport for the 2011 fly-in convention, Oliver was on the flight deck — at the controls.
“I would have never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would be the next pilot who would actually bring it in for that first landing at Oshkosh,” said Oliver, 29, a professional pilot and operations manager for “FIFI.”
Oliver said his path to that seat began with a 1994 Young Eagles flight. He would ride his bike down to the local airport, constantly poking his head in hangars. “I always had a love of aviation, but I really lacked the people to get me into it or teach me anything,” Oliver said.
Then he met Arnie Zimmerman.
“One day he said, ‘Hop in, put the ski goggles on, and get in the back seat’ to go for a ride in the Breezy,” Oliver said. “It’s one of those airplanes that you get in and you just want to hold your hands out, straight out, like a bird, like you’re flying.”
From that Young Eagles flight, he became friends with the former military and airline pilots at the field and helped on a T-6 restoration.
When he was 16, he begged for a job at the airport, where he met more pilots he could learn from—and who offered to take him for more rides.
From there it was upward and onward into an aviation career. He flew on the Southern Illinois University aerobatic team and then got a contract job flying King Airs. His career has taken him to every continent except Antarctica, flying in more than 20 countries.
And throughout his career, he has flown Young Eagles.
“Aviation is something that has to be developed and cultivated in people, and you need a mentor to do that,” Oliver said.
His advice to aspiring pilots: “Get involved. Go to the local airport and get any job you can get,” Oliver said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a line guy fueling airplanes, an apprentice mechanic, or mowing the grass.”
David Oliver flew the world’s only flying B-29 Superfortress, known as “FIFI” into EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2011 last week. Photo credit: AirVenture Todayi
“FIFI” flew into Oshkosh for the annual EAA AirVenture Oshkosh convention last week.
Photo credit: Jim Kopenick of EAA
The world’s only flying B-29 was a hit with visitors at the 2011 EAA fly-in convention. Photo credit: Brady Lane of EAA