Cold War B-52 bomber restored to fly again

A B-52 bomber flown during the Cold War has been rescued from the US Air Force’s scrapyard in Tucson, Arizona, and renovated.

The B-52 is known as Ghost Rider and was taken out of service and scrapped in 2008.

But now, after months of restoration, the B-52 has flown once again.

B-52s were first commissioned in 1962. They were long-range attack planes, which could serve the USA during the threat of war with the Soviet Union. They can transport nuclear and traditional weaponry anywhere on the planet.

The renovated plane conducted a 1000-mile test flight successfully.

Since it had been stored in the hot, arid deserts of Arizona, the aircraft remained in good condition, except that its outer paint layer had faded away to white.

From Tucson, where the renovations took place, the B-52 was flown to Shreveport, Louisiana, and will undergo further tests and final repairs before being put back in service.

The B-52 will be able to drop around 70,000 pounds of bombs anywhere in the world.

The US Air Force is planning to have around 75 B-52s in service. With a range of 8000 miles with just one fuel load and travelling up to 650mph at altitudes up to 50,000 feet, the B-52 is a formidable addition to the US fleet.

The US Air Force’s most experienced B-52 pilot, Colonel Keith Schulz, flew the B-52 to Louisiana, taking it easy at a steady pace and low altitude, the Mail Online reports.

Colonel Schulz says that he’s been flying B-52s for more than thirty years and was pleased with the newly restored plane’s ability to get going with no problems at all.

The flight was around three hours and Colonel Schulz was pleased there were no adverse weather conditions, since the aircraft’s navigation systems had not yet been installed.

It is the first time a B-52 has been renovated and returned to service after already being retired.  Ghost Rider was needed so that it could replace a B-52 that had caught fire and had to be scrapped. It was cheaper for the Air Force to renovate the older intact plane than fix and repair the burnt-out shell of the fire-damaged B-52.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE