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Rolling Thunder

I will do such things -
What they are, yet I know not: but they shall be
The terrors of the earth!

- William Shakespeare, King Lear Act 2, scene 4.

BUFFs parked up in the boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, AZ.

The devilment I could make with them does not bear thinking about. And I have a cat you know. The Mao suit, extinct volcano and improbably monikered but very fit birds in lab-coats with clip-boards are alas on back-order. As is the monorail and I’m going to have to chuck Bob Crow into the shark tank over that.

You are of course aware that the venerable B-52 is now being flown by the grandchildren of the original pilots. Yes, some of those magnificent machines have been flown by three generations of the same family. It’s almost Tolkienesque.


  1. David Gillies says:

    Once you get an airframe right, stick with it. B-52′s are planned to remain in service past 2040, which will mean they will have spent 80 years in service. Try to imagine any other weapons platform that lasts that long. C-130 Hercules aircraft are likely have even greater longevity. It’s entirely plausible that the basic design will crack a century by the time it is retired.

  2. Want one… *sulks*

  3. Bod says:

    You can add the DC-3 to that list.

    First built in ’35, so they already have a 75 year vintage, still doing sterling service – some (from what I understand) on original airframes.

  4. NickM says:

    Mac, You want one. I want a wing of them. Gotta aim high, sir!

    Absolutely David and Bod. It’s weird is it not?

  5. Kevin B says:

    Many moons ago, when the RAF finally came to the conclusion that we needed a replacement for the Hastings and that the British aerospace industry wasn’t going to provide it, they showed us this film of what we were getting. We wos gobsmacked.

    Later when the Hercs were delivered, the steelies decided to have some of that and watching them turn on finals about fifty yards from the end of the runway, whack the props into reverse pitch before they landed and drop like a stone and stop inside a few hundred yards was great fun.

    Horrible to fly in mind you, but a great aircraft.

  6. El Draque says:

    Do you think there’s a B-36 among that lot? Pusher propellers AND jets. And a wider wing span.
    Or a B-58 Hustler? Only 80 ever made, but it did Mach 2 over the pole.

    What a shame the B70 Valkyrie never made it to mass production. The cockpit was at fourth floor level or some such.

    Sorry, the B-1 bomber doesn’t have the same feel about it.

  7. Jeff Wood says:

    Kevin, thanks for the movie.


  8. NickM says:

    You get out of my head already!

    The B-36 – six turin’ and four burnin’. What a piece of work! Did you know it could out maneouvre a MiG-15 at Angels 40?

    I have been to a number of airshows and museums (Smithsonian and the annex at Dulles and Duxford – which is utterly brilliant – spring to mind) but the only surviving Valkyrie is in Ohio. That was an aeroplane. Titanium cold-forged on the anvil of the Olympian Gods.

    When my wife first saw a picture of an SR-71 Archangel she didn’t believe it. “They can’t make things like that yet!”. Alas we live in straightened times.

    Then she saw one in the flesh at the Steven F Udvar-Hazy annex to the Smithsonian and her jaw dropped. Kelly Johnson knew his stuff.

    It goes without saying that I would kill every last one of you and stack the bones in the shower for five minutes at Mach 3.5 in one of them. 4000 missiles fired at the Sled and not a scratch. With that speed and altitude a man can live forever.

    “An enthusiast site devoted to the Blackbird lists a record time of 64 minutes 20 seconds between Los Angeles and Washington DC for that 6 March 1990 flight.”


    That was for the delivery of the airframe my wife and I saw. 107’5″ of pure, undiluted, triple distilled aero-porn. And they have Enola Gay and the Shuttle Enterprise and a heck of a lot else. I was like a fat kid in some kind of store.

  9. Kevin B says:

    Jeff, you’re welcome. “Steely eyed, granite jawed heroes” was the somewhat ironic term we used for the pilots who flew the Hastings, and later the Hercs when I was in the mob.

  10. HSLD says:

    That’s Cold War

    This is COLD WAR

    Pigeon’s 250 :)

  11. Phil says:

    Well then, Nick, you’ll have to make it out to our Museum of Flight sometime.

    Drool cups are available at the entrance.

  12. Bod says:

    Meh. Over here, we’re tripping over SR-71′s, they’re as common as — some other kind of very common thing.

    You can get up close and personal to one at the USS Intrepid, docked on the West Side of Manhattan, take a crouched walk up and down the aisle of a Concorde and ogle a bunch of other military hardware – the whole lot was refurbed a year or so ago.

    If you and Mrs Nick. ever get let out of Broon’s Gulag, I’ll have to show you around.

  13. NickM says:


    Most excellent!


    I shall visit via a form of transportation faster than Broon can fling a Nokia N-90.

  14. Phil says:

    And then I went and forgot the best part. I think that B-52 is still open for walk-throughs.

    Also, there used to be a local guy who owned a refurbished B-17 and would take skydivers up, let them lay in the bomb racks, open the bomb doors and let them roll out into the yonder.

    Don’t know if he’s still around, but I’m sure with some looking around I could scare up that info.

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