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General Paul Tibbets Jr. Joins World Of Wings
at the 2000 National Championship Air Races

Author in Reno for "Return of the Enola Gay" book signing.

by Mark S. Daniels

General Paul Tibbets Jr., the man who commanded the Boeing B-29 Superfortress "Enola Gay" on her Atomic mission to Hiroshima, Japan, is scheduled to be present this year at the Reno National Championship Air Races, in Stead, Nevada. One of General Tibbets’ activities during the event will be a book signing all day Saturday, September 16, 2000, at the World of Wings (WOW) Pavilion.

Bob Avery, CEO of World of Wings commented that "It is a great honor for World of Wings to host General Paul Tibbets in the WOW pavilion for his book signing at the Reno Air Races. This is a man who became very famous after one mission over Hiroshima that played such a vital role to ending the war in Japan. But beyond that mission, General Tibbets had a long and distinguished career as a military officer, aviator and leader."

Avery pointed out that General Tibbets' illustrious career has been overshadowed by the role he and his fellow crewmembers played in ending World War II. Avery said that Tibbets "is a true American hero who played a key role in one of the most important periods in the history of our country."

According to his United States Air Force biography, General Tibbets was born in 1915 in Quincy, Illinois, and after his early schooling, graduated from Western Military Academy in Alton, Illinois, in 1933. At the age of eighteen, General Tibbets attended the University of Florida and the University of Cincinnati, the latter as a Chemistry major.

Tibbets entered the Army Air Corps on February 25, 1937, and began his flying school at Randolph Field, Texas, before graduating from pilot school at Kelly Field, Texas, in February, 1938.

At the outbreak of World War II, General Tibbets formed an anti-submarine patrol squadron at Pope Field, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. In June 1942, General Tibbets arrived in England and flew 25 combat missions over the European continent, including the first American B-17 Flying Fortress raid against occupied Europe – a bombing mission which was led by no less than General Ira C. Eaker.

In the fall of 1942, General Tibbets was assigned to fly General Mark Clark to his meeting with the French prior to the invasion of North Africa. Upon General Tibbets' return, he was assigned to fly General Dwight D. Eisenhower and his staff to Gibraltar on the night of the invasions. General Tibbets then flew General Clark to Algiers where Clark took command of the invasion forces.

In the month that followed, General Tibbets conducted bombing missions over North Africa under direct control of the British, including the first heavy bombardment mission in support of the North African invasion.

In March 1943, General Tibbets returned to the United States as a B-29 Program flight test pilot, where he worked with Boeing and the Air Materiel Command until March, 1944, when he was transferred to Grand Island, Nebraska. There he became Director of Operations for a B-29 instructor transition school under General Frank Armstrong.

In September 1944, General Tibbets was assigned to the Atomic Bomb Project as the Air Force officer in charge of developing an organization capable of employing the atomic bomb in combat, and with mating the development of the bomb to the airplane. He was also assigned the flight test development of the atomic bomb itself.

General Tibbets then took charge of the tactical training of the bombardment organizations and deployed with them into the South Pacific. From the island of Tinian, General Tibbets commanded the first atomic bombing mission against an enemy force, dropping the weapon known as "Fat Man" on Hiroshima – a Japanese Army and Naval port – on August 6, 1945.

Following the end of the war in 1945, General Tibbets and his command were transferred to Walker Air Force Base, Roswell, New Mexico. From 1945-46, General Tibbets was a technical adviser to the Air Force commander in charge of the Bikini Bomb Project.

After an assignment as Director of the Strategic Air Division, Directorate of Requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, from July 1950 until February, 1952, General Tibbets was assigned as B-47 Project Officer at the Boeing Airplane Company, Wichita, Kansas, during the service test of the B-47 Stratojet to determine its operational suitability.

General Tibbets later returned to Europe as Director of War Plans for the Allied Air Forces in Central Europe, at Fontainebleau, France. He returned home to the United States in February 1956, as Commander of the 308th Bomb Wing, Hunter Air Force Base, Georgia. In January 1958, he was reassigned as Commander of the 6th Air Division, where he earned the rating of command pilot.

In February 1961, General Tibbets was assigned once again to Headquarters, U.S. Air Force, this time as Director of Management Analysis. In July, 1962, General Tibbets was assigned to the Joint Staff, Organization of the Joint chiefs of Staff, as Deputy Director for Operations, J-3. In June 1963, following the reorganization of the Operations Directorate, Joint Staff, General Tibbets became the new Deputy Director for the National Military Command System.

General Tibbets retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1966, and remains an outspoken advocate of U.S. air power.

In his conclusion, Avery said that "Any fan who has the privilege of meeting General Tibbets should feel honored to have met a great American."

The World of Wings Pavilion will be open from Wednesday, September 13, 2000, until Sunday, September 17, 2000. The Pavilion will offer for sale the licensed merchandise of six of the top Teams in Air Racing, including Dago Red, Strega, Voodoo, Critical Mass, Miss America and Rare Bear.

The pilots from all six teams will be on hand throughout the races to meet and have their pictures taken with the fans, sign autographs, and talk. A schedule will be posted at the Pavilion announcing the day and time of each pilot's appearance.

Free drawings will also be underway at the Pavilion giving visitors there the opportunity to win a ride in "Miss America;" nearly $600 of TiVo equipment for use with their television sets; or a "Miss America"-themed Kymco Motor Scooter from Tomos Products, the North American Distributor for Kymco.

The Kymco Motor Scooter is to be autographed by "Miss America" pilot Brent Hisey, and awarded by Hisey and Tomos President Joe Woffard, after the Unlimited Gold Race on Sunday.

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Reno National Championship Air Race Coverage
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Air Classics Magazine – American Air Racing, Ltd.
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