The People Behind the B-52
Air Crew Members
Over the past fifty years, tens of thousands of pilots, navigators, EWOs, and gunners have pulled alert with or flown the World’s Greatest Warplane. Together their stories tell its raison d’etre, it’s reason for being.
A few years ago it was said that the last B-52 crewmember had not yet been born. Today that may or may not be true, but it’s probably true that that last crewmember is still in grammar school.
Read memories and see photos submitted by B52 Air Crew Members in our forum (must register first to view). Join the forum (it's free) and share your stories with the world.
Maintenance / Munitions
Crewmembers may be the ones who USE the airplane, but it’s the maintainers who provide it.
There would have been no ‘big stick’ without those who kept it ready. After all, pilots are just people who take a good machine out and bring it back broken. And the airplane without the weapons would be just a transport.
Why was it that the nukes always had to be uploaded at three in the morning? AMMO!
Munitions: Read memories and see photos submitted by B52 munitions personnel in our forum (must register first to view)
Maintenance: Read memories and see photos submitted by B52 Maintenance personnel in our forum. (must register first to view)
Join the forum (it's free) and share your stories with the world.
Staff & Support
Wing weenies! The always maligned, never appreciated force behind the force.
From the wing commander who went to Omaha to explain our screwups, to the guys from current ops changing out the bags for the SIOP ‘Rev’ on New Years Eve, they had the unenviable job of paperwork. We sometimes forgot that most of ‘them’ used to be ‘us.’
And the list of those who kept us alive is long:
- The weather and base ops folks who briefed us
- the inflight kitchens who had to come up with something that would still be edible eighteen hours (or thirty in today’s world) later
- transportation’s buses where we hid from the heat/cold during last minute maintenance
- and the oxygen masks, survival kits, and parachutes provided by—their name says it all—life support
- Last, certainly not least, the cops! Where do you get guys who’ll accept responsibility for a nuclear loaded machine, day and night, blazing heat or freezing cold, and challenge the wing commander if he’s not showing a valid line badge?
Every base needs its ‘housekeeping’ functions: hospital, civil engineers, services, and so on. But B-52 operations frequently lay unique and difficult requirements on these folks. Their stories are part of the mosaic that is the history of the Stratofort.
But the bed rock of our support were our spouses. They kept the world on an even keel while the rest of us—aircrew, maintainers, support, everyone—fought our country’s wars for fifty-plus years. They were, and are, an important part of the B-52 story!
Read memories and see photos submitted by B52 Staff and Support in our forum (must register first to view). Join the forum (it's free) and share your stories with the world.
Contractors / Engineers
The B-52 didn’t just happen. A team of engineers from Boeing and the Air Force Bomber Development Branch (still in brown suits then) at Wright Patterson AFB brought together several threads of emerging technology to create The Bomber For the Ages!
The guys and gals (at least one of the signatures on the original engineering drawings is Miss Mary Lou Waite, described in a 1951 news article as a ‘girl engineer.’) who took that idea, built it, tested it, and delivered it were probably ultimately responsible for winning the Cold War.
Read memories and see photos submitted by B52 Contractors / Engineers in our forum (must register first to view). Join the forum (it's free) and share your stories with the world.
Civilians / Enthusiasts
You don’t have to have had direct contact with the BUF to appreciate its contribution to history.
There are aviation historians, students of the Cold War, Vietnam, Desert Storm, the Balkan Wars of the ‘90s, and the current Middle Eastern wars who recognize and want to preserve the history of America’s Big Stick.
And, of course, they’re enthusiasts who just recognize greatness when they see it and want to be part of its preservation.
Read memories and see photos submitted by Civilians / Enthusiasts of the B52 in our forum (must register first to view). Join the forum (it's free) and share your stories with the world.