TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
The first B-52H Stratofortress to be resurrected from
long term storage at the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group
(AMARG) to rejoin the active strategic
bomber fleet soared into the sky from Tinker Air Force Base Sept. 27.
The historic flight of tail number 61-007, known as
“Ghost Rider” on its nose art, marked the end of the warbird’s 19-month transformation
from a mothballed 55-year-old, eight-engine jet parked in the Arizona desert to
a fully updated conventional- and nuclear-capable global strike bomber
Tinker AFB’s 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group handed over
the plane 90 days ahead of schedule to Air Force Global Strike Command. “Ghost
Rider” will join the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, N.D.
“I am extremely proud of the team
that was able to deliver Ghost Rider back to Air Force Global Strike Command,”
said Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex Commander Brig. Gen. Mark Johnson. “This
is really a testament to accomplishing the Art of the Possible. It shows that
when there is a common goal, team members from across multiple organizations
can rally behind the objective and deliver their team's full impact to the
project. Everyone involved -- 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, aircrew,
engineers, Defense Logistics Agency, and Air Force supply chain professionals,
and of course, mechanics, schedulers, planners, from across the OC-ALC -- all
brought their best to return combat capability back to the warfighter. Our ALC
should be proud, Tinker AFB should be proud and Oklahoma should be proud of
this historic aviation accomplishment.”
Tinker’s 565th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron completed
the overhaul, modernization and restoration work in 272 calendar, or flow days.
Charles “Chuck” Alley, 565th AMXS director, said
maintainers, engineers and support teams were excited to work on the historic
project, spending approximately 45,000 man-hours restoring “Ghost Rider” to
Mr. Alley said pilots of Tinker’s 10th Flight Test
Squadron flew the B-52 six times to verify system functionality and ensure a
safe and reliable aircraft before declaring the plane ready for delivery Sept.
13. The jet needed an extra 7,000 man hours over normal programmed depot
maintenance to “get it up to speed with all the other B-52s in the fleet,” Mr.
“I told people during test flight that because the
aircraft sat in the desert so long, we’re knocking all the ghosts out of it,”
the director said. “It seemed like every time it came back it had two or three
different things wrong with it.”
Lt. Col. Darrel Hines, B-52 flight commander with the 10th
Flight Test Squadron, flew the plane from Arizona to Barksdale AFB, La., in
February 2015, and flew in part of the six final functional test flights. The
plane arrived at Tinker on Dec. 14, 2015 with overhaul and maintenance work beginning
Dec. 31, 2015. The plane was due to be delivered later this year on Dec. 23 but
delivered 90 days early.
Colonel Hines praised all the
organizations involved in the restoration, including the 309th AMARG, the
Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center,
and above all the maintainers whose skilled hands-on work made the difference.
“This was a great team effort from
multiple commands and it was a great success,” Colonel Hines said. “Now this
plane is going to come out of Tinker back to the warfighter, and it’s going to
be a huge asset to the guys going out in combat.”
Brenden Shaw, production management
chief for Tinker’s B-52 Systems Program Office, helped oversee “Ghost Rider’s”
revival from the beginning. He watched it receive new fuel, oil and some other minor additions when
the engines were initially restarted at AMARG.
Mr. Shaw described the project as a huge undertaking into
“uncharted territories” for organizations including Air Force Global Strike
Command, Program Depot Maintenance, the Defense Logistics Agency, the Air Force
Supply Chain team and the Air Staff.
Mr. Shaw thanked all the team members who had a “part in making
this historic event happen ahead of schedule. It is truly impressive what we
can accomplish when we all pull in the same direction.”
"Ghost Rider” will join 75 other B-52H Stratofortresses
in the Air Force’s operational bomber fleet.