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Gen. Paul Tibbets on: Testing the New Bomber
Gen. Paul Tibbets Q: What happened at Boeing that brought you into this project?

Eddy Allan was a graduate test pilot. He worked for Boeing. He was also an aeronautical engineer. Eddie Allan was the project officer on the B-29 Program. He wore three hats depending on what he was doing. And he was a very skillful man; he was great. But he tried to get a B-29 back into Boeing field after he had an engine catch on fire. He tried to stay with it and bring it home. And he missed it by about a quarter of a mile and crashed at a meat packing plant right off at the end of the runway. Nobody in the plant got hurt but it killed everybody on board. The airplane was consumed by flames,that's why it went down and Eddy got killed. Well, with his death, Boeing said, "We're not going to build this airplane. It's no good. It has too many problems, too many things."

What the government then, and I think it was Hap Arnold, at the Air Force, said "You're going to build it." And they said, "Well we can't build it." And they said, "Well, I'll tell you what. You've already taken 200 million dollars from us. Do you want to give it back? We'll get somebody else to do it." And they said, "Wait a minute, wait a minute. No." Because they didn't have it to give it back. "We will operate the factories but we will not take any responsibility for the airplane." Arnold said, "That's fine. We, Army Air Corp, will take responsibility for the airplane." And with that he assigned a man from here who was a Brigadier General by the name of K.B. Wolfe, an excellent man; he knew what the hell he was doing.

I had been assigned to the proving ground command. Wolfe looked at me and said, "What are you supposed to do?" I said, "Sir I came here to fly airplanes." He said, "Well goddamn it there's eight of them out there, go fly one." "Well, yes sir." Well I had looked around and I found another guy wearing wings. And we talked to some of the people that were manufacturing it. "Anybody know how to start the engines on this airplane?" And they came up with a man who had made two flights with Eddy Allan as an assistant engineer. He came up and said, "Well," he said, "I can start the engines." I said, "Okay you start the engine and we're going to fly it and really bring it down short." I played with that thing, I don't know two or three hours. I had to stop and cool the engines because I'd taxi and they'd get hot. But I would push it just a little bit further each way. I finally got to the point where I lifted it off the ground. We just took off and kept on going. I taught myself to fly on the run.

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