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MINOT AIR FORCE BASE — When 1st Lt. Daniel Welch arrived at Minot Air Force Base in January, he became part of the same squadron his grandfather commanded in the 1970s.
That squadron is the 23rd Bomb Squadron, a unit of the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB.
Welch, a B-52 co-pilot, is keeping up his family’s tradition as a B-52 Stratofortress flight officer.
Both his grandfather, retired Col. Don Sprague, of Sacramento, Calif., and his father, retired Lt. Col. Don Welch, of Las Vegas, were B-52 aviators.
Welch was one of the speakers Aug. 19 when the base held “Peace Persuader Day” to celebrate the arrival of the first B-52 bomber at the base 50 years ago. The day was named for that first plane. The first B-52 arrived July 16, 1961, but the ceremony was postponed until August because of the flood in Minot.
When he was asked to speak at the 50th anniversary celebration, Welch said he asked himself, “What have I done to be given this opportunity besides being born into a B-52 family of aviators?”
Since he has just begun his career as a B-52 aviator, he chose to honor his grandfather and his father by telling a few of their experiences as well as about his grandmother and mother.
Welch said his grandfather grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and was commissioned by ROTC. He went to Maxwell AFB, Ala., for additional training, where he met Daniel’s grandmother, Marion.
“At the time that they met, my grandmother was an Air Force nurse. She outranked him and he had to salute her. To this day, we still give him a hard time for that,” Welch said.
Daniel’s grandfather attended pilot training in Texas. After graduation he went on to fly the F-86 Saber, the B-47 and then “the mighty B-52,” his grandson said. “He’s flown every model from the A model up to the H model.”
Sprague flew combat missions in Vietnam. As a result of one of those missions over North Vietnam, he became a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, his grandson said.
Sprague returned from Vietnam and was assigned to Minot AFB in the early 1970s “where he became the squadron commander of my current squadron, the 23rd Bomber Barons,” Welch said.
Welch said he felt it was pretty amazing when he looked through squadron history books and came across a picture of his grandfather and some of the news articles he was in while his grandfather was at the Minot base.
Sprague then was assigned to Mather AFB, Calif., where he became the wing commander. “That’s where my father walked into the picture,” Welch said.
The senior Welch had just been commissioned by ROTC. “My mother (Diane) was working at the base pool as a lifeguard. I’ve got to give my dad some credit for having the guts to date the wing commander’s daughter,” the lieutenant said.
Shortly after his parents got married, they were assigned to Guam in the early 1980s. “Sitting nuclear alert was part of the B-52 crews’ lifestyle,” Welch said. He said his father tells about the crews being at the base exchange with their families when suddenly they were notified. They would leave their families and run out the door to respond to their aircraft, not knowing if it was the real thing or a drill, Welch said. His father retired from the Air Force after 22 years.
“Growing up with my grandfather and father as role models made it pretty easy to decide that I wanted to pursue a career in aviation,” Welch said.
“I was able to realize that dream after I attended pilot training after my graduation from the Air Force Academy in 2008,” he said.
Welch was commissioned in 2008 and graduated from pilot training in December 2009. He started flying the B-52 in March 2010 at Barksdale AFB, La., and arrived at Minot AFB in January of this year.
Welch said he looks forward to the challenges and experiences that are sure to present themselves just as they presented themselves to generations before him.
But he pointed out that he would be remiss if he didn’t mention “the glue” that has held the three generations of bomber crews together: his mother.
“As a daughter she endured Christmases and holidays away with her father being deployed; as a wife she endured time without her husband,” he said.
Welch said it appears he will be deployed over the holiday season. “She’s a proud B-52 mother,” he added.
If he has a youngster someday, Welch said maybe there will be a fourth generation B-52 aircrew member.
Air Force, News 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, b-52, B-52 aircraft, B-52 bomber, B-52 deployment, B-52 plane, b-52 stratofortress, B-52 Stratofortress aircraft, Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, bomber plane model, Capt. Allen Agnes, deployment, mahogany plane model, model plane, plane model display, Stratofortress aircraft, The Devil's Own, wooden model plane
“The Devil’s Own” 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron has concluded another successful deployment to Andersen Air Force Base in support of Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence. It operates B-52 Stratofortress aircraft providing strategic bombing capability.
Crews flew nonstop from Andersen to multiple areas throughout the Pacific, training on ranges in Australia, East Asia and Hawaii, honing their ability to put bombs on target, on time. This exemplified Air Force Global Strike Command’s ability to rapidly strike anywhere in the vast Asian Pacific region with its Guam based B-52 aircraft.
All B-52s are equipped with an electro-optical viewing system that uses platinum silicide forward-looking infrared and high resolution low-light-level television sensors to augment the targeting, battle assessment, flight safety and terrain-avoidance system, thus further improving its combat ability and low-level flight capability.
“Flying these 18-hour sorties can be exhausting,” said Capt. Allen Agnes, 96 EBS plans and programs. “Long endurance training flights teach a crew how to cope with realistic conditions and what can be an incredibly fatiguing experience.”
According to the Northern Edge 2011 factsheet, the exercise is designed to sharpen skills of participants by practicing operations, techniques, and procedures. The event provides forces ready for deployment worldwide and enables real world proficiency in detection and tracking of units at sea, in the air and on land, and response to multiple crises.
“The success of these training opportunities reflects the closeness of our alliance and the strength of the ongoing military-military relationship,” Captain Agnes said. “During our time here, we were able to meet 218 percent of our higher headquarters directed missions, totaling 190 sorties and nearly 1,500 flying hours-the highest ops tempo in three years.”
Between flying missions, the 96 EBS found time to attend the 36 Wing Dining Out, and was the largest unit in attendance alongside 7th Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Remington and the Lieutenant Governor of Guam, the Hon. Ray Tenorio.
“In the end, we achieved our mission to help maintain stability and security in the Asia-Pacific region, thus supporting Pacific Command’s objectives and goals,” Col. John Edwards, 96 EBS commander.
Air Force, News 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, B-1 Lancer, B-2, B-52 Stratofortress bomber, B52, Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, Capt. Paul Stucki, KC-135 tanker, Minot Air Force Base
After a five month deployment in ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam, approximately 250 Airmen and six B-52 Stratofortress bomber are preparing to pack up and head home.
Airmen from the 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, Minot Air Force Base, N.D., began arriving in November 2010 in support of Andersen’s continuous bomber presence; the unit will return to their home station in early April, passing the torch to members of the 96th Bomb Squadron from Barksdale AFB, L.A.
Andersen has hosted the CBP since 2003, when Pacific Air Forces began to routinely deploy B-1 Lancer, B-2 and B-52 bomber aircraft to Guam on a rotational basis, demonstrating U.S. commitment to the region by providing a capable and prudent deterrent force.
“Along with an outstanding group of maintainers, operators and support personnel, we brought the most versatile bomber in the world to Andersen in support of the CBP mission,” said Lt. Col. Michael Cardoza, 69th EBS commander. “Our team was ready to execute a wide variety of missions on a moment’s notice, 24/7.”
Capt. Paul Stucki, 69 EBS weapon and tactics flight commander added, “The unique skills and contributions the B-52 brings to the Andersen mission are many, but the biggest contribution would have to be in our global attack and precision engagement capability with stand-off weapons. “
“The B-52 is capable of carrying large amounts of weapons and a lot of fuel. We can strike anywhere, anytime, with any weapon, and do it all with precision.”
In Captain Stucki’s words, the 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron as a whole has participated in exercises in Hawaii, South Korea, Japan, Australia and here at Guam during exercise Cope North. They have integrated with Navy SEALS, coalition partners in Japan, Air Force Joint Terminal Attack Controllers from Camp Red Cloud, South Korea, and Hawaii, Range Control Operators in Australia and five separate KC-135 tanker units here at Guam.
“We have dropped over 700 weapons; we have flown over 1000 hours and have taken on over 1.9 million pounds of fuel during aerial refueling operations.”
A milestone for the far-from-home squadron, Colonel Cardoza feels that the last several months have been time well spent.
Source: Air-Attack, Photo via USAF
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Weather permitting, Air Force officials said the X-51A Waverider will make its first hypersonic flight test attempt on May 25 after it is released from a B-52 Stratofortress off the southern coast of California.
The unmanned X-51A is expected to fly autonomously for five minutes, powered by a supersonic combustion scramjet engine, accelerating to about Mach 6 and transmitting vast amounts of data to ground stations before breaking up after splashing down into the Pacific, as planned. There are no plans to recover the flight test vehicle, one of four built.
The X-51 will depart Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. and be carried aloft under the wing of a B-52 belonging to the Air Force Flight Test Center there. It will be released at approximately 50,000 feet over the Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range. A solid rocket booster will accelerate the X-51A to approximately Mach 4.5, before being jettisoned.
The May 25 hypersonic test will actually be the third time the X-51 has flown, but in each previous instance it has remained attached to the B-52‘s wing. The first captive carry flight Dec. 9, 2009, verified the B-52‘s high-altitude performance and handling qualities with the X-51 attached and tested communications and telemetry systems. The other flight, intended essentially as a dress rehearsal for the hypersonic flight, took place earlier this year.
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From WWI to the modern day, bombers have dominated the battlefield and led the path to victory. These are the best of the best. They are the top ten bombers of all time.
10. Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
In 1937 the Boeing Aircraft Company built America’s first all-metal, four-engine heavy bomber, the legendary B-17 Flying Fortress.
9. Handley Page 0/100
Powered by two Rolls Royce engines with a speed of 79 mph, these 100-foot wingspan aircraft were able to deliver their 2,000 pounds of bombs with remarkable accuracy.
8. Junkers Ju-88
Believed by many to be the most important German bomber of World War II, the Ju-88 was in front-line service throughout the 1939-45 conflict. Its versatile design enabled it to be used as a bomber, dive bomber, torpedo bomber, heavy fighter and night fighter.
7. Tupelov Tu-95
This huge Soviet long-range bomber, nicknamed the Bear, was designed to carry up to four nuclear bombs to the U.S. mainland from bases in Russia.
6. Boeing B-47 Stratojet
The B-47 used swept-wing technology captured from Nazi Germany and an unusual tricycle undercarriage, which led many to think it would serve as no more than a research plane.
5. Avro Lancaster
The Lancaster was Britain’s most famous heavy bomber of World War II. Capable of carrying a bomb load of up to 22,000 pounds, Lancasters, which flew at night, pounded German cities and factories.
4. De Havilland Mosquito
Nicknamed the “Wooden Wonder,” the Mosquito was perhaps the most versatile aircraft to see action during World War II. As a bomber, it was also the fastest.
3. Boeing B-29 Super Fortress
The B-29 had a range of over 3,500 miles, an operational ceiling of 31,850 feet and a top speed of 358 mph. It could carry a huge payload of 20,000 pounds of bombs and was armed with 12 .50-caliber machine guns and a 20-mm cannon.
2. Northrop Grumman B-2 Stealth Bomber
The flying-wing concept was brought into the world of advanced stealth technology by Northrop with the B-2 Bomber.
1. Boeing B-52 Stratofortress
With a maximum speed of 650 mph, a range of over 8,000 miles and the capability to drop 70,000 pounds of bombs, the B-52 is the most lethal bomber in the world. It can also deliver nuclear weapons, cruise missiles and precision bombs.