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Kansas pilots work to restore historic Wendover Air Field

Six local volunteers from the Kansas Pilots Association took part in helping save a piece of U.S. history earlier this month.

They flew to the historic Wendover Air Field, a 1940s Army airfield, in Utah to help restore the airfield.

The airfield, located about 100 miles west of Salt Lake City, was the training site for the 509th Group for its mission to drop the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.

The Air Force selected a B-29 Superfortress and one of its best aviators, Col. Paul Tibbets Jr. to form and train a group devoted to dropping the bomb. Tibbets selected Wendover Air Field as the training site. He thought the remote location was perfect for the secrecy surrounding the project. For a time, it housed the Enola Gay, the B-29 Tibbets used to drop the bomb, "Little Boy."

During the trip to the airfield, KPA volunteers excavated piled-up dirt and debris from a second bomb loading pit on the base, said Johanne Pachankis, who organized the trip. They found only a few relevant items, wooden framing, wiring leads, rusted piping and a piece of uniform cloth, she said. They cleaned the pit down to its concrete flooring.

Al Madero, Art and Alice Hatch and David and John Krueger also made the trip.