posted December 08, 2004 03:42 PM
NASA'S FAMED B-52B "MOTHERSHIP" AIRCRAFT TO RETIRE
Having dropped advanced flight research vehicles rather than bombs over an illustrious career spanning nearly a half century, NASA's B-52B "mothership" air-launch aircraft is being retired.
The Air Force Flight Test Center and NASA Dryden Flight Research Center will jointly host a formal retirement ceremony for the revered aircraft at 10 a.m. on Dec. 17, 2004 at NASA Dryden, located on Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The ceremony will include a formal transfer of the B-52B by NASA Dryden center director Kevin Petersen to Brig. Gen. Curtis M. Bedke, commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center, for its final disposition. Tentative plans call for placing the aircraft on permanent display at Edwards AFB.
Operated by NASA Dryden for most of its lifetime, NASA's venerable B-52B has participated in some of the most significant projects in aerospace history. At retirement, the air launch and research aircraft holds the distinction of being NASA's oldest aircraft, as well as being the oldest B-52 still flyable. At the same time, it has the lowest number of flying hours of any B-52 in operation, having been used exclusively in the role it has continued to perform so reliably for nearly 50 years.
Bearing NASA tail number 008, the B-52B first flew in June 1955 and was flown by the Air Force in the B-52 test program for several years before it was modified to support the X-15 research aircraft program at NASA Dryden in 1959. It flew its last research mission Nov. 16, 2004, launching the scramjet-powered X-43A on its record Mach 9.6 flight over the Pacific Ocean.
[This message has been edited by collectSPACE Admin (edited December 08, 2004).]