Skip to main content

View Diary: Flying the B-52 - Part 1 (216 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Great diary, thanks. (6+ / 0-)

    As an AFROTC cadet I was once on a refueling mission in a KC-135. I believe the B 52 was a G, it was based at Plattsburgh AFB in 1969.

    Later on I lived right off the back gate of Davis-Monthan AFB when a whole bunch of B 52 Ds showed up in their Vietnam-era camo.

    One question, can you roll a B-52, and if not, is that because roll control is via spoilers, or just because of general principles of sanity, or what.

    Moderation in most things.

    by billmosby on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 03:37:58 PM PST

    •  It's a prohibited maneuver (6+ / 0-)

      But rumour (in the seventies) was that the top dog Boeing test pilot did a roll with both a B-52 and a KC-135.  Other people that tried it probably bought the farm.  

      It ain't smart because those pod mounted engines can fall off if you get too carried away with maneuvers like rolls or stalls.

      How many wrongs does it take to make a right?

      by pdknz on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 05:23:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, here we go--Tex Johnson (4+ / 0-)

        The AF preferred to see much more conservative flying in those big planes--

        How many wrongs does it take to make a right?

        by pdknz on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 05:38:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, I remember seeing an interview with Tex (7+ / 0-)

          about that maneuver with the 367-80 (707 prototype). His story was that he did a barrel roll in a maneuver that was about +1g at all times. Or anyway positive g, I have always thought that if you had only a little +g at the top that you would have to have something like +2g at the bottom, unless you gradually increased the radius of the roll as you rolled past 180 and on to 360. And that would be difficult.

          He said his main concern was not to uncover the fuel pumps (in the wing tanks) so as to avoid fuel starvation. He did the maneuver pretty low so there wasn't a lot of room to try restarting one or more engines.

          After explaining all that to the company president the next day, the prez said, well ok you're the expert, and thanks for the display, but don't do it again. Boeing had more than the net worth of the company tied up in that prototype and couldn't afford to use it. Amazingly, the cost of the plane was only in the tens of millions. Dollars went a lot further in those days...

          I've never heard that he rolled any of the other big Boeing iron, although the B-47 was said to handle pretty well. They used to do some pretty sprightly pylon turns around my neighborhood in Houston in the late 50s. Don't know if they were from Ellington or where.

          Also we would get big sonic booms from B-58s flying along the Gulf Coast in the early 60s when I lived there.

          Moderation in most things.

          by billmosby on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 06:13:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  the guy who crashed at Fairchild was (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        billmosby, NYFM, eve

        attempting to prove he could roll the aircraft. It was not built to complete that maneuver.

        LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

        by BlackSheep1 on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 06:09:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I wonder how it would have come out if (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          he had had more than, say, 5 wingspans of altitude....

          Moderation in most things.

          by billmosby on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 06:14:20 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  about the same, likely. A BUFF lacks (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            billmosby, sawgrass727, KenBee

            some of the flight controls necessary to re-invert it.

            Wikipedia notes:

            The B-52 aircraft, callsign Czar 52,[4] took off at 13:58 and completed most of the mission's elements without incident. Upon preparing to execute the touch-and-go on Runway 23 at the end of the practice profile, the aircraft was instructed to go-around because a KC-135 aircraft had just landed and was on the runway. Maintaining an altitude of about 250 feet (75 m) above ground level (AGL), Holland radioed the control tower and asked for permission to execute a 360° left turn, which was immediately granted by the tower controller. The B-52 then began the 360° left turn around the tower starting from about the midfield point of the runway. Located just behind the tower was an area of restricted airspace, reportedly because of a nuclear weapons storage facility.[5] To avoid flying through the restricted airspace, Holland apparently flew the aircraft in an extremely tight, steeply banked turn while maintaining the low, 250 foot (75 m) AGL altitude. Approximately three quarters of the way around the turn, at 14:16, the aircraft banked past 90°, descended rapidly, tripped power lines, and hit the ground, exploding and killing the four crew members. McGeehan was seated in an ejection seat, but according to the medical statement, he had only "partially ejected at the time of impact", it does not state whether or not he cleared the aircraft. Huston was also seated in an ejection seat and the medical statement indicated that he had not initiated the ejection sequence. Wolff's seat was not ejection-capable. No one on the ground was injured.[6]
            It's been way too long since I studied Buffs, but IIRC the missing controls enable bank-recovery.  That estimate of 5 wingspans' altitude is way too generous, by the bye ...

            LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

            by BlackSheep1 on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 06:54:52 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, more like 1.35 spans. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              BlackSheep1, eyesoars, sawgrass727

              I have always thought that the fact that spoilers are used for bank control (if I remember correctly anyway) on a B-52 is the reason for the lack of bank recovery. For a spoiler to work, you have to be generating lift elsewhere on the wing, in particular the wing you are trying to raise. At a 90 degree or greater bank angle you'd have to be thinking more like a stunt pilot (than a moron...) to pull that off, especially considering the very low altitude.

              Maj. Kong, is any of that anywhere near correct?

              Moderation in most things.

              by billmosby on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 07:30:11 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Theoretically yes (10+ / 0-)

      I did it in the simulator once. Roll rate was pretty slow, I wouldn't want to try it in the airplane.

      The most bank I ever did for real was 120 degrees - and I was dodging a SAM at the time.

      That's a story for another diary.

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 06:15:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Flight controls... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      billmosby, sawgrass727, elfling

      The BUFF doesn't use ailerons for roll control. It uses spoilers.

      The reason is supposedly that because the wings are so long and flexible, the torque ailerons would have added out at the wing tips would have twisted the wing enough to undo their effect.

      Given the roll rate, it seems unlikely that you could avoid split-S'ing out of an attempted roll -- as you passed 90 degrees of roll, the nose would come down regardless, and you'd have to use elevator to recover (presuming that you could without overspeeding it, which seems unlikely).

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site