Was it the work of a modern day Dr. Frankenstein? Not exactly, but it was the first B-52 brought back from the dead at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base’s airplane graveyard in Arizona. This just adds to the amazing legacy of this long flying and storied aircraft. But, how did this all get started anyway?
Apparently the aircraft has a number quota it must maintain in order to keep America’s B-52 fleet mission-ready. That mission has long been a major part of the nation’s nuclear deterrent. The aircraft has also been used extensively for long range bombing missions since it was first put into service in the 1950’s.
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona has hundreds of obsolete and wrecked aircraft in various states of storage there. Of course most of the sensitive parts were removed before they were put in storage and those that weren’t are often cannibalized to keep other working aircraft flying. It is the used parts junkyard for the US Air Force if you will. If a part is no longer made for an aircraft, then it’s a good place for a technician to look for a used one. With that being said, resurrecting an entire aircraft from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and making it serviceable is something that has not been done very often, and it’s a first for the B-52 Stratofortress. Since no B-52 aircraft has rolled off an assembly line in almost fifty years, it made the lengthy restoration project about the only viable option for the Air Force.
The aircraft is headed for the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. Apparently there was a B-52 mishap there that required that particular aircraft to be taken out of service due to a devastating fire in its cockpit that left the aging bomber irreparable. With no other place to look, it was decided that they would try and put a mothballed B-52 from Davis-Monthan back into service in order to keep the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale fully mission-ready.
I am not exactly sure what the criteria is for selecting an aircraft to bring back to life among dozens that were kept there in an “advanced” storage condition, but they chose a B-52 H model that had been stripped of all its engines and vital components and parked at Davis-Monthan over seven years ago. The bomber, aptly nicknamed ‘Ghost Rider’ by a previous crew, first went into service in 1961.
The decision was made by those involved to fly the plane back to Barksdale Air Force Base, where they would do the bulk of its restoration and upgrading. That required, however, the daunting task of making an aircraft that was stripped of its key components able to fly again. Ghost Rider had to first have all of its engines replaced and some critical avionics put back into it. The highly skilled technicians that undertook the project had to reach deep into their bucket of knowledge to make that happen. But happen it did, and amazingly the technicians got the aircraft flight ready. It made its way safely back to Barksdale Air Force Base where it can be made whole again. It was truly a historic feat that once again made the USA’s B-52 fleet 100% mission-ready.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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