Archive for the ‘Flying the BUFF’ Category

RVSM

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

I remember Ponch had a lot of data on this subject.  Something more than just hooking up another altimeter on the B-52 to get it compliant–if I remember right, we’d have to replace everything except the turn and slip indicator to fix the BUFF.  Anybody remember any of the stuff cold?  Just wondering.

Great Come Back

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

A few of you might remember “Slider”.  During his initial qual as a copilot, he was Professor’s student–way back when the FTU had hard lines. I know . . . ancient history.

Anyway,  I also flew with him several times (maybe four at the most).

I don’t think I flew with him when he upgraded to AC.  And he went to CFIC after I retired.  But he did get a no-flap touch and go–we managed to pass that down to him.

Today he’s a weapon school instructor and has a line-number for major.

We solicited  the weapon’s school to give the 608 AOC a B-52 Capes brief–maybe because nobody wants to hear my “pulling alert with SRAMs and B-28s” stories. 🙂

I gave Slider orientation training on SIPR DCO the day prior to his briefing.  While he was building some Poll Questions, the deputy chief for the Combat Operations Division (Tigger) came into our office to discuss an entirely separate issue.   Tigger is a Lt Colonel with an A-10 background, plus he’s a big Hawaiian-looking guy.  I like him, but like many fighter pilots–his sense of humor can leave bomber guys wondering if he’s kidding or picking a fight.

I decided to introduce Slider to Tigger, and Tigger took advantage of the moment to interject some of that A-10 style humor.

“You mean you let this old guy in your cockpit?  What could he ever do?”

Slider didn’t smile.  Instead he maintained eye-contact with Tigger and calmly said, “He taught me everything I know.”

Tigger looked at me, a bit bewildered, and I said something, but whatever it was, it didn’t measure up to what that B-52 pilot had just laid on him.

Yeah, that was a good moment.

BUFF crash

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

http://www.stripes.com/09/feb09/crash_report.pdf

All,

The report on the Buff crash on Guam has been out for a time now. I think everyone has had a chance to read it and mull it over. If you haven’t the above link will get you there.

Our Bob blog has not said much about it and I value your experienced opinions.

After reading the report I was horrified at the description of the crash. I can’t , for the life of me, imagine a B-52 getting that out of control that quickly. I don’t understand and can’t swallow the explanation of a runaway stab trim. scenario unraveling that quickly to hitting the water in a near vertical dive at almost 600 knots. How many times have you participated in simulator rides with runaway trim? How many sims have you given to students over the years with this kind of results? Instinctively I recoil at the idea that a runaway stab could put the nose that far down that quickly. I know that the Buff increases in positive trim as it gets faster – until Mach tuck.– No mach tuck at this altitude possible.

I suppose that what little they could recover of the aircraft didn’t give them much to analyze. It seems to me that an investigation of the auto-pilots roll in this accident would be a better avenue. Putting myself in the situation and knowing the younger crowds flying habits and experience, leads me to suspect an auto pilot induced roll to inverted flight with unsuccessful recovery from the unusual attitude. There wasn’t a single word in the report about unusual attitude recovery.

I know of at least one incident at the 20th BS a few years ago were a young guy allowed the auto pilot to get him near inverted on a bombrun. He came very close to killing himself and his crew and destroying the aircraft. Only a high G recovery that badly damaged the jet saved them.

I have, on many occasions, had the auto pilot attempt to overbank the jet on altitude hold. I never trusted the damn thing for that reason and always monitored the bank closely when using the roll knob. Also as much as I liked the young pilot involved in this accident, I was uncomfortable with the over-the-top explanations they gave in the report to exonerate the crew of responsibility for the crash. Again absolutely no discussion of unusual attitude recovery. Even if you buy the runaway trim story, the next part of that string is recovery. Every scenario involving runaway trim in the EP sim involved recovery from the unusual attitude caused by the trim problem.

Also it is completely obvious that flight over water, on a calm day, with no land around, leads to disorientation. Again not a word in the report about a lack of horizon and its impact on the ‘pilot” trying to recover from an unusual attitude.

I never flew with the pilot, but I do remember discussions about his performance at the 20th BS and his weakness during pattern operations at night – with no horizon- recognizing over banks in turns. The report would have you believe this crew was above reproach in responsibility and that runaway trim is unrecoverable in the B-52 for even experienced pilots.

Don’t’ buy it! What do you think?

Ponch

Stabilizer malfunction blamed in B-52 crash

Friday, February 13th, 2009

This came out today, in the Air Force Times in an article by Bruce Rolfsen – Staff writer and posted : Friday Feb 13, 2009 14:10:10 EST

Here are several extracts from that story:

 

Malfunctioning parts and late recognition of spiraling problems likely led to the fatal crash … the bomber’s rear stabilizers …

… the stabilizers malfunctioned while the bomber was in a fast descent from 14,000 feet to 1,000 feet.

“Even an experienced aircrew could have found it difficult to recognize, assess and recover from the very rapidly developing situation involving the rear stabilizer trim,” board president Brig. Gen. Mark Barrett concluded.

… jackscrew revealed the stabilizer trim was set at 4.5 to 5 degrees nose down …

… the flight was normal until the jet turned left and began to descend about 33 miles west of Guam.

[During the descent] at … more than 240 mph, the stabilizers suddenly unhinged, putting the jet into a dive with the nose pointed down 30 degrees and more.

One of the pilots likely tried to level the stabilizers manually using a control wheel in the cockpit that moves the stabilizer 1 degree every two to three seconds, the report said. However, because the plane was already low, there wasn’t enough time to level the stabilizers.

At least three crew members tried to bail out seconds before the plane hit the water, but the plane’s speed, altitude and angle already were past the point where they could survive the ejection.

http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2009/02/airforce_b52_crashreport_021309/

11 September 2008 – The Chuck

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

This is a tough day.  None of us living today will forget 11 September 2001 (a.k.a. 9/11) nor should we.  Here’s a link for those wanting a memory jolt.

Speaking of memory jolts.  A B-52 warrior passed me some of the last pictures of Balls-34 (60-034).  It was taken to final parking at the Bone Yard back on 14 Aug.

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Wisdom is acquired through experience.   More often than not, wisdom is obtained through mistakes rather than through  well-executed, perfect plans.  We’ve all become the wiser when we’ve discovered the stove was hot, a bee stings, ice-covered steps are slick, the dog bites, not everyone is your friend, and good intentions only carry you so far.

Some of us have learned that min-fuel really means min-fuel, there’s a good reason we don’t do overheads in a Buff, and if you can finish your Air Force career without being passed-over or fired–you weren’t just lucky–you had very some powerful friends.

I’m glad that along the way I’ve had friends like you to fly, fight, and win with.  Today I fight more with getting my belt buckled, shoes tied, and finding time to write.

Writing a novel is different from writing doctrine, Combat Crew articles, or even telling a story.  I discovered that my skills were woefully under-developed–so I’m still working on them.

I’m taking an advanced writers course with a talented, local writer (Connie Cox) and it helps.  Here’s a quick story before I end this short post.

Two nights ago, Connie gave our small group some advanced tactics of word-smithing.  I applied it to the first page of my manuscript–keep in mind that this is my 25th rewrite and two rewrites ago I won third prize in the Amazon dot com Break Through Novel Award– when I was done I had 13 edits to the first 12 lines of my novel.

I’m just an old crew dawg learning new tricks everyday.

Eventually I’ll have something to interest an editor.

I hope to have my first novel published before I make my way to the Bone-Yard for old bomber pilots.  I’m thinking 2009 is going to be a very special year–lipstick or not.

What say ye?

Monday, August 18th, 2008

Chuck and all,

 

 

Yes the WIFF… as a said I flew the WIFF with Yuke Smaby.  Don’t remember the specifics of the maneuver other then the purpose of the demo was to show you that if the two aircraft and pilots were in sinc with each other and they both understood the aerodynamic interaction between the jets, that “any” attitude could be achieved successfully in contact.  It was a confidence and teamwork maneuver. I remember that we did get just a bit past the 90 degree bank on one of the series of maneuvers.  The WIFF was a dynamic process, not just one big turn.  It was a series of lazy-chandelle type maneuvers (without the 180 degree turn reversal) that started out small and increased with each reversal until the target attitude was achieved –or sometimes exceeded—hence the name WIFF.  This concept was re-enforced on the subsequent CFIC MITO sortie where we had to do a 12 second MITO with the tanker and achieve a contact shortly after flaps up – below 2000 feet  – on the departure, then fly contact through the climbing turn on the CID.  Also I remember Yuke abusing me hard on the night sorties when we re-fueled and had to maintain contact thorough many turns, climbs and descents over and over again.  I remember never being so tired and wrung out post flight.  I also remember some harsh thoughts I had for my instructors every time the tanker turned and started climbing or descending.  At the time I didn’t understand the purpose of the pain…only that it was painful.  As on my last BoB this level of training and the detail involved was to prepare us for any mission and any situation in the future.

Mine came just three months after returning from CFIC.  We ended up in IRAQ short on gas and carrying a load of new weapons on converted cruise missile pylons… yes a WESP.  The drag was more then expected, hence that’s why we where short on the gas… big time….enough so we needed an extra refueling to make it to the post strike base.  We asked the AWACS and we got a snap vector to a group of tankers holding south of the border.  Well snap vector was not part of the SAC lexicon and neither was the anchor refueling that we where headed for.  I don’t think any one in SAC could spell anchor let alone fly it with the jets in the configuration we had.  Oh bye the way… did I mention it was at night and the tankers were orbiting right in the only cloud deck in this part of the world.  Well Andy and Bob worked their magic and got us close enough behind the tanker to make visual contact.  I can’t remember how many times we had to chase the tanker around the orbit with radar before we got close enough to see them.  I do remember that every time we made an orbit, chasing the tanker, the fuel gages got lower and lower.  We were already well below what we needed to get to the post strike.  When we finally got contact the vis in the clouds was to the point we could not afford a disconnect and pre-contact position.  We would not have been able to get back.  I remember a feeling of relief when the gas started pouring in to the tanks…until the crazy turns started as we went around and around.  It took every bit of concentration I had to stay connected.  Then out of the soup, an F-4 showed up on our wing in full afterburner yelling on guard to “GET THE BUFF OFF THE BOOM NOW!”

I guess he snap vectored to the biggest return he had on his radar…which was the two of us… with only fumes left.  We had enough gas to afford a little break but not enough to get were we needed to go.. so I backed off the boom.  No way could I afford to loose sight of the tanker and go through the blind man’s bluff rendezvous again…so I opted to slide to the right on the tanker wing then back off to the F-4’s wing position to wait our turn, again.  A few more turns in this formation and the F-4 took a disconnect, rolled inverted off the end of the boom, and disappeared into the night soup with not even a thank you.  We slid back into contact and started suckling again.  By this time I was exhausted.  We had already been airborne long enough to see the sun rise and set and it was already near sunrise again.  We discussed our low fuel state with the whole formation of tankers (we were a three ship with Russ Bennet and Gary Konnert on our wing) they agreed to drag us towards the post strike base while we were refueling.  I remember being filled with gratitude for the gesture and told them we owed our first borne or what ever they wanted.   

The whole point of the story is that we were prepared for this by the blood and sweat at CFIC.  The confidence and skills that it took to do what none of us had ever done before, under the most adverse scenario you can think of, was forged by the tough curriculum at CFIC.  This curriculum – including the WIFF – was the creation of men who had their turn in the meat grinder and understood the need for blood sweat and tears during training to forge aircrew who had the confidence and skills to do anything.

 

Cheers

Ponch

60-019 is in Final Parking

Friday, August 15th, 2008

(click on any thumbnail to see a larger view–use your browser’s back button to return to this posting)

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The march to the Bone Yard continues. Like all old soldiers eventually do, it is time to let the memory of B-52H tail-number 60-019– a.k.a. “Balls-19”– start to fade away.

Billy Bob, Bush, and Stretch flew Balls-19 down there on 7 Aug. She had 17,885.7 “glorious hours” after the flight was over. Of course that is just flying time, which doesn’t take into consideration the myriad hours she stood nuclear alert with the crews of SAC.

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Some folks don’t consider “alert” as combat time. That would be the folks who didn’t live it back when the Air Force was a “Great Way of Life.”

Deterrence is the art of war without combat. You can’t have deterrence without sufficient force structure to back up your words. Just words don’t cut it, if the antagonist doesn’t believe you will act. A Joe Lewis mouth with a Mickey Rooney butt just gets you spanked three out of five times–maybe four.

Balls-19 will be missed. Billy Bob said that she was “One trusty fella.” Somebody will figure out how to make a UAV do the job she leaves behind– never.

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I was going to tell a specific story about Raz’n Hell II but I decided to tell you one from my G-model days instead.

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By mid 1989, I was nearly finished with my last full line in the 328th Bomb Squadron at Castle. I had been “on the line” longer than any other IP in the 328 by that time. And I’d had many great students up till then, but those two were definitely top-drawer.

The copilot was a former B-52 navigator. He had done well enough in UPT to get his first choice of assignments–the resolute BUFF.

The pilot was a T-37 first assignment instructor pilot (FAIP) who was the first natural pilot I’d ever seen. He was proficient with AR on his second flight–never seen that before or since. You could show him something once and he could do it as well as you could. It must have been my excellent instruction, yeah, that’s it.

They each went on to win top-graduate award for their crew-position in the class, but not before they almost killed me. The whole thing taught me something very important.

Only three or four flights away from their check-ride, everything was going well. Base operations–error free. Preflight–error free. Start-engine, take-off, and level-off at cruise–no errors. Air refueling was picture-perfect. For me–as an instructor pilot–it was just about as boring as I could stand. Then we went low-level.

It was IR-300, a place that should still be familiar to many of you that flew the BUFF. The route was very mountainous at the beginning. Which is perfectly boring, because the calibration peak for the terrain avoidance (TA) equipment wasn’t until the very end of the leg. One constant altitude until cross-over. Yawn.

As per standard procedure, the studs were in the seats for low-level. I was in the IP wearing a chute but leaning forward to keep an eye on things. Weather was clear and a million. Eyes can get heavy on a navigation leg like that.

No problems. Same old thing. Here we go again. Eyes so heavy …

Through my lashes I watched a picture-perfect peak calibration. Good job. Yawn.

Shortly after the peak-check, the low-level route turned slightly left and descended about 7000 feet down the mountain range into the Black Rock Desert–probably the flattest spot in North America. No trees, no bushes–at least none you can see at 800 feet. The challenge was to get down to the desert early enough to take advantage of that flat area to accomplished a “flat and rolling calibration”. Why do two? Because you can. Never miss a chance to train.

If pilots followed the newly-calibrated TA trace down the mountain, they’d lose several miles of the desert. The standard technique back then was for the pilot to announce “Disregarding the trace,” and then descend using visual procedures. Which is exactly what all pilots did, every time on IR-300.

I was struggling with a boredom-induced near-coma as we descended down the backside of the mountain. The TA trace was at the top of the screen. Impact point in the EVS. I remember my “spider-senses” starting to tingle or maybe it was a guardian angel telling me, “Wake-up!” My eyes were wide open.

With only 1000 feet on the radar-altimeter, we still had a pegged VVI. Not good. Then the IP in me had something to do–and I did it. My picture-perfect pilot responded as directed and even with the aggressive 2-g pull-up–we dished out at 250 feet.

We climbed back to 800 feet and the rest of the ride was perfect. I remember the two pilots giving each other the “Oh no, we just hooked a ride” look. I was busy kicking myself in the butt for the next twenty minutes.

A perfectly good B-52 with a crew of ten warrior Airmen–almost a smoking-hole. What would the accident report have said? I’m glad that one was never written.

No matter how good an unqualified student is performing–they’re still unqualified. I remember something an old instructor pilot once told me, “The primary job of an student is to kill his instructor. If he can’t kill you, he wants to at least confuse you, so you’ll look stupid.”

To that I add, “It’s not the weak student that will kill you. It’s the picture-perfect student who lulls you into a false sense of comfort and security that will kill you–and it’s your fault if you let that happen.”

That desert excitement was all my fault. And I knew it. That day, I silently pledged to change my attitude and actions as an instructor from then on. As an instructor I would remain on the sharp edge. I knew then and forever that no matter how boring things appeared on the surface–sheer terror could raise its ugly head at any moment. Be prepared.

During our dedicated critique-day, I explained to them how to prevent something like that from ever happening again. After I shared those techniques, I told them that while they would have “busted” a check-ride, it wasn’t necessarily unsafe. After all, we still had another 250 feet to go.

I wish I’d had a camera to capture the look on their faces. They had expected to bust the ride, but instead they–no–we had all learned something that would stay with us forever.

So, unsafe? Probably not. A lot of pilots have flown at 250 feet. In 1987, I flew a Maple Flag sortie over Canada at 250 feet for almost two and half hours. And that reminds me of another story I’ll save for later.

If this story about the day I almost died helps anyone be a better instructor–it was well worth the effort to tell it.

Remember, the primary job of an instructor is to keep the student and the airplane reusable. Be careful out there.

It just makes sense.

Anybody Remember the WIFF?

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

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An F-15 driver asked me about my 10-23 story where I tucked in behind a Phantom then stayed with him through the first part of a lazy eight. He didn’t think a B-52 could do a lazy eight. Then I told him how we used to WIFF during AR. He said he’d have to see a video or picture to believe it. Can you believe that? He thought I was making it up.

The WIFF was a confidence maneuver designed to separate the men from the supermen until the end of the Cold War.

Some of you have to be old enough to remember the WIFF from Castle. (Heck, some of you are old enough to remember Polesti.) My first time was in mid-1987. Al Doi (remember him?) was my instructor on three of my five sorties, so he’s the one I remember most. I also flew with Smith (the famous dragging brake during takeoff into the overrun Smith) and another guy, I think it might have been Gordo Balanski but my memory is cloudy there.

Anyway the WIFF wasn’t exactly a lazy-8 like in pilot training, we adjusted power during the maneuver. We pulled some power on the downside after the turn to keep the speed from building too much and we pushed it in at the bottom as we came back up. We weren’t looking at the attitude indicator back in the bomber, eyes were on the tanker. But it sure looked pretty much about 90 degrees as we sliced down.

After I was at Castle and assigned to the 330 CFIS–around 1989–they changed the regs and tried to limit the bank to 55 degrees. I remember the initial scoffing at the limit, because the airplane couldn’t slice down until at least 70 degrees. The maneuver became outlawed after SAC was foreclosed-on and we weren’t based with the tankers anymore.

If I remember some more details of the maneuver correctly, the tanker started to roll with about 20 degrees of pitch. But I can’t remember how nose high we wound up. I do know that we stayed within aircraft limitations at the time (now the bank is limited via regulation).

Portable cameras weren’t as common back then. The only picture I have is the one posted–taken from a tanker and used on the going-away plaques at CFIC for years.

Anybody have any better pictures–Andy or Britt or Yak? Anybody got any better stories–Ponch or Doug or Larry? Anybody remember when they first started doing the WIFF–Elwood or DB or Dragon? Anybody know if WIFF stands for something–James or Bob or Moses? Maybe obscene–John or Pat or Ted? Or is it just a variation of wifferdill?

Anybody?

 


61-023 Goes to Final Parking

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

Another’s one gone. After 47 years the photogenic B-52H tail-number 61-023 (a.k.a “Ten-23”) flew its last sortie. Kind of a sad day for those of us who were fortunate enough to have flown her. She’s the first of 18 B-52s the Air Force is removing from the bomber force. When the cutting is done, we’ll only have 76 B-52s to carry on. I could talk about force-structure but instead let me tell you a story about the old girl.

Most bomber aviation connoisseurs already know about Ten-23 losing her tail when Chuck Fisher went looking for mountain-wave turbulence over Colorado in 1964.

If you’re not familiar with the story, you can get a good review of it on Boeing’s web page or Ed Marek’s “Talking Proud” with more details and some nice pictures.

In a nutshell, the vertical tail was snapped off. The crew almost bailed, but using skill and cunning they were able to recover the aircraft. I’m glad they did, because I flew that particular jet several times during my service.

Here’s a few details from one those. I never kept very good personal logs, but I think this happened on Ten-23.

I had just finished the Central Flight Instructor Course (CFIC) back in the mid-1980s. Lt Colonel Tom Ellers, my squadron commander, was evaluating me. He wanted to know if he could trust me as an instructor pilot (IP). Most aspiring IPs would have flown a conservative mission–but I just couldn’t roll like that at the time.

We had a fighter v bomber event planned on that day. We started mixing it up with the F-4 Phantom with Colonel Ellers supervising from the IP seat–which is between and slightly behind the two pilots ejection seats.

Fighters usually come at you in pairs. But on this day, one of the F-4s had problems. We were one verses one (1v1). Better for us.

I know that sounds silly to the needle-nose drivers, but back in the 1980s the B-52H had a fire-breathing 20 millimeter gatling-gun of a stinger. You didn’t have to like us, but you had to honor our tails. And while our ECM suite didn’t compare to what the BUFF has today, it sure as heck could handle the trons of an F-4.

So for a single F-4 to get a kill on a Buff, he needed a special-blend of skill and luck.

After a few failed attempts to get us, he moved in for a close-range gun-pass on us. My gunner wanted him, but he had settled in our four o’clock high. A B-52 pilot can’t see that spot from the left seat because of the cockpit design. Fortunately, we’re issued a copilot when we go fly. That day I had “Smokin Joe” McBrearty in the right seat. He was keeping close tabs the F-4.

The F-4 matched our velocity, preparing to make a raking gun-pass across the top of old Ten-23. But we weren’t going to just hang there and let him have his way with us. As soon as he committed to the diving left turn–I banked hard to the right and then pulled up.

Colonel Ellers was a little concerned about my aggressiveness, but not nearly as much as the F-4 driver was. A speeding freight-train was headed for him and he was standing on the tracks. What could he do?

Yep. He had to move, which made him abandon his gun-pass. No longer the hunter. He pushed his nose over and dove under us. As he did that, I reversed our turn. Then rolled into his six o’clock, probably just inside of 2000 feet away. Way too close for his comfort. He was now the prey.

Imagine his surprise. Embarrassing. What could he do?

He pushed in some power and pulled up into steep climb. So did I. We weighted less than 250,000 pounds at the time, which is very lightweight for the Buff. As his energy ran out, he converted into a lazy-eight. I followed him.

I’m sure he was irritated when he saw us follow him up, over and then started down with him. But not as much as when I made the call, “Guns, guns, guns. Splash one Phantom.”

And you’re right. The Buff didn’t have forward firing guns–not even then. But it really sounded cool at the time. In my years of flying that followed, I taught that maneuver to a few Buff pilots. Warning–it won’t work on the new fighters, unless they really get stupid on you.

What happened to the F-4? Well, he converted into a split-S and the day was over for the F-4. He RTB’d, but we still had some adventures left.

I went on to make a series of overly-aggressive decisions, all of which were debriefed in the sober atmosphere of Colonel Ellers’ office that evening. But that’s what colonels are for–helping aggressive captains mature into dependable instructors.

I could share the details of how I almost ran out of fuel later on that same sortie, but not today. The low-fuel story is not nearly as much fun as one about shooting down a fighter. But it would be more fun than hearing about another reduction in our heavy-bomber force structure.

Seventy-six B-52s. Sixty B-1s. Twenty B-2s. That’s all our heavy bombers. All.

Global war in progress. Enemies like Venezuela acquiring modern weapons and rattling sabers. Nuclear weapons being developed in Iran. How long can we trust North Korea to behave? What is China thinking–planning? Is Russia really talking about putting forces in Cuba?

Seems like we need more heavy-bombers–not less.

It just makes sense.

The Resolute BUFF

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

The BUFF still carries the water.

In 2002, the B-52 celebrated the 50th anniversary of the XB-52 first flight. The models flying today are much newer. The H-models were built in 1960 and 1961, making them 47 to 48 years young. Imagine that.

Combat aircraft lasting longer than a general’s career. Projected to remain in service for another 30 to 40 years, those airplanes will last longer than the average life span of a typical American. Time will tell whether that is an accounting trick or a new standard in combat aviation. The B-52 is without equal–the undisputed heavy-weight champion.

Ironically designed as an “interim bomber,” it proved superior to airframes designed to replace it. From the Mach 3+ B-70 to the current collection of bombers with names that sound more like bingo squares, the B-52 has remained the resolute American bomber. However, time and politics has taken a toll on its numbers. Of the 744 bombers built, only 94 remain in service–and that took an act of congress.

Following the demise of SAC, the fighter-minded Air Combat Command took administrative control of the aircraft. In 1993, they took action to reduce the aircraft down to as few as 43 airframes and to cut the crews down to a number to match. The Air Force used personnel tools like a Reduction in Force (RIF) and the selective early retirement board (SERB) to deplete the ranks of the “excess” B-52 crew members.

One bomber pilot, who was serving as an instructor at the Air Command and Staff College, was actually told that his career was over because the BUFF’s utility was obsolete. Looking at the thousands of combat hours flown in the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), it is easy to see that his non-rated boss was wrong about the BUFF. Unfortunately, perspectives are easier to correct than terminated careers are to resurrect.

March 24, 1993 was another dark day when many soon-to-be-missed B-52 Lt Colonels were told to pack their bags. Eventually, a respected bomber general testified before congress, and the Air Force was over-ruled with its plans to gut the bomber force.

Memory of that general has mostly faded away in the 15 years since his career was flat-lined by his noble actions, but the B-52’s flexibility and versatility has continued to serve the nation well. Those who were fated to fly the B-52 have developed a band-of-brothers mentality as they’ve become part of the legend of the mighty BUFF.

Even after its long history, today the B-52 has the highest mission capable rate when compared to the bingo bombers: B-1 and B-2. In contrast the utility of the B-1 remained in question until the JDAM became operational. That GPS-guided weapon, which was initially developed on the B-52, provided the B-1 with a real-world capability to replace it’s public-relations rhetoric of being called the “primary bomber” of the Air Force. The B-2 is in it’s sixth week of what is being called a “temporary pause,” the politically correct term for the grounding of a billion dollar plus aircraft. The pause followed the baffling loss of a B-2 in Guam where the aircraft became uncontrollable immediately after take-off.

Air Force officials assure us that the diminutive B-2 fleet could resume flying should national necessity dictate. Until that necessity presents itself, I agree that it is prudent to isolate the problem that caused the early rotation and subsequent stall of the high-tech heavy bomber.

Technology is a wonderful thing when it works.

We can enjoy the luxury of a temporary-pause option because we bask in the glow of a decision made by Congress to keep a sufficient number of the smoky, noisy, cabled-driven, hydraulic pump actuated, big, not-so-ugly, flying fellows that strike fear into the hearts of our enemies, pride in the hearts of those that fly them, and envy in the libido of those who can’t.

However you stack the numbers, the BUFF is the greatest heavy-weight champion of heavy-bombers that has ever flown. I agree that other airplanes are prettier than the B-52, and in a Hollywood society, that is an important attribute. But when the world gets ugly, we need combat aircraft that can fly, fight, and win.

It just makes sense.

Nuke mission 1/2 the time

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2008/02/ap_moseleynuke_022808/?source=nletter-%%__AdditionalEmailAttribute1%%
WASHINGTON — In response to flaws exposed by an embarrassing nuclear weapons error last August, the Air Force will change the way bomber crews organize for their nuclear training mission, the top Air Force general said Thursday …

Hey, how about this, the B-52 will fly nukes for 6 months out of the year … I guess that is why they have to put it back in the school house. Do you think this will raise or lower morale?