World War II aircraft brings back memories for B-29 radio operator

When a World War II era bomber arrived in the valley on Monday, it brought back a lot of memories, especially for one veteran who was a radio operator aboard a B-29 Superfortress on several missions over Japan.

"The first mission was very, very scary," said James Goode.

During the final months of World War II in the Pacific, B-29 Superfortresses flew missions to bomb Japan nearly every day.  Back then, the 20-year-old Goode was based in Saipan.

"The radio man had to copy the report from the base every hour once an hour," he said.

Almost 90 years old, Goode was visiting family here in the valley when they saw that another B-29, like the one Goode served in was visiting the area.

"Fifi" is the only B-29 still flying and part of the Commemorative Air Force.  On Tuesday, Fifi was open for public tours at Deer Valley Airport.

"Everything worked like a charm," said Goode.

And for Goode, the memories of a time aboard his B-29 came flooding back.

"We called her Black Magic."

Especially eventful was the 20-year-old's first bombing mission.

"Because when we got up over Japan, we started icing up and the aircraft had no de-icing equipment because they had stripped it all off," said Goode.  "The fuel was so low that when we dripped the nose down to make a landing and one engine quit because the fuel slurped to the front."

Goode and the entire 11 man crew made it through 14 bombing missions unscathed, but survived a close call after the war.

"We went on two prisoner of war missions after the atomic bomb was dropped."

Dropping food and clothes to U.S. prisoners of war, the bomb bay doors on their B-29 were damaged and couldn't be closed.

"The pilot was very unhappy that we didn't get the last door closed," laughed Goode.

And they had to make an emergency landing on the island of Iwo Jima.

"In a way, it was more scary and more eventful than a bombing mission."

Goode is the only surviving member of that plane's crew and his family hopes he gets a ride this week aboard Fifi when she takes off from Deer Valley on Wednesday or during the B-29's stay at Mesa Gateway Airport this weekend.

CAF Air Power History Tour
Through Feb. 25
Deer Valley Airport
702 West Deer Valley Road
Phoenix, AZ

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