B-52 resurrected from the Boneyard

| May 18, 2019

Wise Guy
Col. Robert Burgess, 307th Operations Group commander, gives a thumbs up after flying a B-52 Stratofortress, nicknamed “Wise Guy,” to Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, May 14. The bomber had been at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, since 2008. It took a team of reserve and active duty airmen four months to prepare “Wise Guy” for flight after its decade-long hiatus at AMARG. (Master Sgt. Ted Daigle/Air Force)

‘Wise Guy’ flies again

A BUFF nicknamed “Wise Guy” this week became the second B-52 Stratofortress ever to be returned to service from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, the airplane cemetery known as the “Boneyard.”

Another BUFF nicknamed “Ghost Rider” was the first to come back from the dead.

The bomber was was selected to replace another B-52 that was damaged in a fire, said Maj. Phillip Ventura, spokesman for the 2nd Bomb Wing.

On Jan. 28, 2014, an oxygen leak caused a fire on a B-52H, which was undergoing routine maintenance, Ventura said in an email Thursday to Air Force Times. Although the plane was not destroyed, repairing the damage was deemed to be too costly.

Global Strike Command decided the most cost effective option was to replace the damaged bomber with another B-52H in storage at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

After “Ghost Rider” was selected to replace the damaged B-52H, crews from the 2nd and 307th Bomb Wings spent 70 days at Davis-Monthan making the plane able to fly to Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, he said.

Which brings us to “Wise Guy.”

By: Stephen Losey

Wise Guy was retired to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, in 2008, where it sat under the hot sun for more than a decade. Typically, aircraft that retire there are cannibalized for parts, and the vast majority of B-52s there never fly again.

But after another B-52 was consumed in a fiery, aborted takeoff at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam in 2016, the Air Force said in a release Thursday, the service needed a replacement, and the process of resurrecting Wise Guy began. It arrived at its new home at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, on Tuesday.

Wise Guy Returns
A B-52 Stratofortress, nicknamed “Wise Guy,” makes its final approach to Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, May 14. The bomber was flown out of the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, also known as the “Boneyard”, where it had been since 2008. (Master Sgt. Ted Daigle/Air Force)

“This was a command-wide effort, with reservists and active duty offering a great deal of experience,” said Col. Robert Burgess, the commander of the 307th Operations Group, who also flew the bomber to Barksdale. “It took four months to get ready, so it was really a small effort on the aircrew side and a major effort on the maintainer side.”

After the bomber arrived, Barnhill reflected on the role he played in restoring not only Wise Guy, but also Ghost Rider in 2015.

“Bringing a bomber out of AMARG is once-in-a-lifetime chance, and I have been able to do it twice,” Barnhill said. “It’s just an honor to bring it back into service.”

When the maintainers began their work on Wise Guy, they even found a message left in its cockpit, written in black marker on a metal clipboard.

wise guy note

Every B-52 Stratofortress has a global nickname, BUFF, because it’s a Big Ugly Fat, ahh, Fellow.

Well done Air Force, in resurrecting these Cold War Warriors and returning them to meet today’s challenges.

Read the entire article here: Air Force Times

Hat tip to my pal Rod for the link.

Category: Air Force, Blue Skies, Cold War, Guest Link, Terror War, Veterans in the news

Comments (19)

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  1. SFC D says:

    Somewhere up above, LtCol D is smiling. Great work from the boneyard!

  2. USAF_Pride says:

    Dale Brown’s book Flight of the Old Dog, mandatory reading for anyone who worked:flew B52’s and provides a clear path to resurrecting more!!

  3. Ex-PH2 says:

    Nicely done!

  4. Mason says:

    So amazing these 65 year old workhorses can be brought back to service. Even more incredible to think that we’re going to be flying them for decades to come.

    • The Party of Hell No! says:

      No it should not be amazing, it should be understood this is how military aircraft should be built; able to be flown for years, upgraded, rebuilt and sent out to continue it’s mission, or be repurposed for other needs.

      What is amazing as taxpayers we spend billions on military aircraft and allow military personnel to fly military aircraft which cannot even come close to what has been accomplished with B52. This should be the standard for all aircraft.

      I also think because the B52 endures (Rugged!), and it continues to fulfill many facets of needs for the Air force and any replacement to fulfill what the B52 is able to accomplish is so prohibitively costly – there will be more B52’s drug into the future by the Air force.

      • SFC D says:

        What’s also amazing is that as successful as the B-52 has been at pretty much every mission thrown at it, it’s never fulfilled it’s primary mission. Long range, strategic nuclear bombing.

        • AW1Ed says:

          “Long range, strategic nuclear bombing.”

          As far as we know…

          • Mason says:

            Great movie, which like the 1997 Starship Troopers is supposed to be an anti-military flick, but I get the exact opposite message from it.

            • The Other Whitey says:

              Sargon of Akkad on YouTube has a pretty good video where he tears apart in minute detail all the claims about “Starship Troopers” allegedly being fascist.

              • Mason says:

                I saw it, it’s really good. I think I may have posted it here in a WOT several months back.

                • Quartermaster says:

                  The movie itself is an abortion. Heinlein was probably spinning supersonically in his grave when it opened.

    • Jus Bill says:

      Bear in mind that they were designed on actual paper by actual engineers using actual slide rules. That they’re still flying and fighting is a testament to their true craftsmanship.

  5. The Other Whitey says:

    I want to say that it’s time for Boeing to develop and manufacture the B-52J, but lately it seems like their quality control ain’t what it used to be.

  6. Roger in Republic says:

    And I can remember when we were cutting them into pieces with a giant guillotine so the Russians could see we were taking them out of service. At at a time when they had no comparable strategic bomber. The buffs really must have soiled some russian trousers. I know they terrified the NVA and Saddomites.

    • rgr769 says:

      I saw only their contrails at high altitude once or twice in the Viet of the Nam. They likely killed tens of thousands of NVA along the trail. I saw some of the moonscape of bomb craters they helped create along the road network along the Laotian border with RVN.

    • SFC D says:

      I only saw my dad cry 3 times in my life. The second time was when they cut up his beloved 52’s.

  7. 5th/77th FA says:

    Good on the airdales. As posted above, the BUFF was the epitome of American Ingenuity, Craftmanship, and workmanship. Older brother who retired as a Chief, probably turned a wrench or two on both of those aircraft at one time or another in his 27 years. He was with SAC for a good while and only left the BUFFs to be part of the B1B and then the C130J Programs. Sac kept an apron full of BUFFs at Robins back yonder and Mama run the meal facility that packaged the box lunches for the flight crews. When they’d go on alert, at least once a week, their flight path took them right over the top of our house (6 air miles away). Seemed as if we could reach up and scratch their bellies.

    I think we ought to make most everything at DM airworthy again…..just because we can.

  8. FC2(SW) Ron says:

    I love seeing stuff like this. I remember seeing the Iowa and Wisconsin in the Philly shipyard mothballed when my recruiter took us on a tour through there. Those old Navy ships where so impressive even in the resting position. I never imagined I’d later walk on the deck of the Iowa in Norfolk to visit a fellow FC just a few years after I joined. The old ships and planes being brought back into service say a lot about their bones.

  9. Messkit says:

    “….off we go…”