9 hours ago
Monday, April 15, 2013
Remember the Rock Hudson 1963 classic A Gathering of Eagles? The film was a cold war propaganda piece about the role of the U.S. Air Force's Strategic Air Command in warding off the red menace. Rock was a B-52 Wing Commander sent to make certain his wing passed their operational readiness inspection. Close your eyes tightly and you visualize the film, even if you never saw it.
I saw that film on a hot night in the back of the family station wagon at a drive in near Kansas City, and knew from immediately I someday wanted to join the Air Force just to be around B-52s. As close as I got was watching them land at nearby Kelly AFB while fighting the battle of Lackland AFB.
Military jets weren't introduced until the end of WWII, and saw limited service. The XB-52 Stratofortress's first flight was April 15, 1952, a mere 3 weeks after my birth, and officially joined the Air Force fleet 3 years later. Sixty one years on, extensively modified and updated the B-52 continues to be the backbone of the US bomber fleet. Current plans anticipate the B-52's retirement in 2040.