World's only flying Superfortress offers stunning view

Thom Patterson, CNNUpdated 29th July 2015
Editor's Note — CNN's Thom Patterson covered the Experimental Aircraft Association's AirVenture airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Follow him on Twitter at @thompatterson.
Oshkosh, Wisconsin (CNN) — I'll never forget the day I met FIFI. She gave me the best seat in the house.
FIFI is a plane: a World War II-era B-29 Superfortress, the last one of its kind that still flies. It's the same kind of bomber that dropped two atomic bombs on Japan.
On Tuesday, by some stroke of luck or generosity, I found myself 2,500 feet above Wisconsin inside a bubble of glass, watching the world whiz by at a couple hundred miles an hour.
FIFI is one of the stars of this week's Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. When pilots flew her a few minutes north to an airport in nearby Appleton, I hitched a ride thanks to the Commemorative Air Force, which restored, maintains and flies this rare warbird.
Here's what it's like to sit in that bubble: Breathtaking panoramic views of Wisconsin's lush green countryside roll underneath you; you want every flight to be like this. The setting sun shoots beams of brilliant light across rivers and lakes. I'm scrambling to snap photos and video -- and to shout out to my friends on social media.
The bubble at the front of FIFI includes a sighting device bombardiers used for precision bombing.
Then, I pause. I need to stop for a second and appreciate this rare perspective on the world, courtesy of a machine that's seen more than its share of stresses and strains.
You see, FIFI speaks.
She talked to all of us on board in a mechanical vocabulary that includes groaning metal, whistling engine parts and fiery pops.
If FIFI spoke in human terms, she might have reminded me that B-29s changed air warfare and made history.
They changed the game by flying longer distances at higher altitudes with pressurized cabins so the crew didn't have to wear masks to breathe.
She might have reminded me that this bubble wasn't designed for sightseeing. It was designed to defend the nation.
When B-29s dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, they marked the end of the bloodiest war ever. The B-29 also helped launch the first piloted airplane to fly faster than the speed of sound.
Pilot Allen Benzing is just getting to know FIFI well. He's piloted her about 15 times, including our flight.
I asked Benzing whether he's getting emotionally attached as he spends more time with FIFI.
"My emotional attachment comes when I see a veteran come up who's flown as a crewmember on a B-29, and I go, 'That's the real thing,' and I feel really humble."
Benzing has seen veterans react to this plane while standing in its shadow. He's watched their expressions change as they remember their time on the Superfortress. "It really hits home with you."
Pilot Allen Benzing says he's humbled by veterans who've served aboard B-29s like FIFI.
In the 1970s, the Commemorative Air Force rescued FIFI from the scrap heap. It has raised millions of dollars to keep her flying. About 4,000 were made, but only one flies.
Soon, however, FIFI will lose her unique status as the only flying Superfortress. A B-29 named "Doc" is expected to take flight this year, thanks to a team of restorers in Wichita, Kansas.
But until then, FIFI rules. And don't you forget it.
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