I used to live in Spokane and attended many an Open House at Fairchild. One year (one of the last that the B-52 was still based there), I had a friend who used to be a crew chief show me his plane. He let me inside the cockpit (after using his BDU shirt to cover up things I didn’t need to see) and I sat in the pilot’s seat. Next, he actually let me climb onto and walk up the wing. I think that somewhere I still have the picture he took with me standing atop his plane.
It was kinda funny...this was during the short time that ‘nose art’ made a resurgence. The way I understood it, individual commands could choose to allow “appropriate” nose art if the crew so chose. One of my friend’s housemates (he lived off base) was a graphic designer and artist. At the crew’s request, he drew a cartoon of an eagle with a leering grin, picking his beak with what looked like an ALCM. The plane had a nickname painted under
the cartoon, but I can’t remember what it was.
Within the next couple years, the BUFFs were gone.
When I first moved up here, to North-West Lower Michigan, there was a radar base just East of us in Bayshore. The “Buffs” fron K.I Sawyer, Minot, and other places would come in low over Lake Michigan, then swoop up, with their bomb-bay doors open, just over U.S 31, only a few hundred feet in altitude. Quite impressive, to say the least.
A B-52 also crashed onto the ice in January, 1971 on a practice flight from Wendover, Maine, just North of Big Rock Nuclear Power Plant, here in Charlevoix, with the loss of the entire flight crew.
<< I got buzzed by a B-52 back in the nineties while driving on the interstate in Eastern Washington. It was simply awesome! >>
Wasn’t so “awesome” for me when I was at Barksdale AFB during Viet Nam where they used to take off every four or five minutes fully loaded and I was working off the end of the runway only a few dozen feet from the point where they lifted off.
The 20% loss of hearing that I’m living with today is a painful and constant reminder of how powerful those things are!