NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Some WWII vets experienced deja vu more than 1,000 feet in the air. They were crewmen again in a B-29 Superfortress that circled New Orleans on Thursday. It's the last one of its kind able to fly.
"It's literally a national treasure. We take it around the country and we teach history," said pilot Tom Travis.
The bomber is named Fifi, with 70 years of stories to tell.
"This is a very special experience for me. It's been 70 years since I've flown the B-29," said David Oreck.
Decades before he became well known for his vacuum empire, Oreck was a fresh-faced radar navigator on a B-29, flying missions over the Pacific.
"We were amazed, our mouths fell open. I couldn't imagine such a magnificent machine," he said.
Now 92, Oreck and other WWII vets were ready for a nostalgic journey on the finest bomber of its day.
"Being young like I was - I was barely 19 years old - I told somebody I wasn't too scared because I didn't have a window to look out of," said David Fisher, who was a radio operator on a B-29.
"It's very emotional," Travis said. "Especially those with combat history. It's so important for people to learn what they went through and appreciate that."
Travis is a pilot with the Commemorative Air Force. The group is responsible for restoring planes like the Fifi to their original splendor.
The two bomb bays on the Fifi are capable of carrying 10,000 pounds of bombs. The same type of bomb bay was on a B-29 named the Enola Gay. It dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan in 1945.
On this peaceful mission, Oreck took his seat in the bombadier position so he wouldn't miss a thing. Liftoff was effortless for the cumbersome plane, riding across choppy air like antique silk. Without hydraulic boost controls, Travis says it's tough to fly.
The view from the nose and windows was breathtaking as it circled the city of New Orleans. The 20-minute ride brought back a lifetime of memories for the veterans.
"It was emotional, it really was. It was very meaningful to me," said David Fisher.
The Fifi's mission: Accomplished.