The historic NASA B-52 currently on display at Edwards AFB
January 20, 2024
Here in Tehachapi, we have a wealth of informative retired folks from the military, many of which worked at Edwards AFB Flight Test Center. So I think this would be of interest to friends and family of these service men and women to see this "Peace Keeper" aircraft. Many I bet worked on jets, maybe flew jets in the military.
This historic aircraft is on display just east on highway 58, about 60 miles from Tehachapi at the north gate of Edwards AFB. I was a freelance photographer for a few years at Edwards and I have a great interest in aviation, flying sailplanes and history of the Flight Test Center. When I worked there I would see the mighty B-52 Stratofortress NB-52B-008 and other fantastic jets on display. As I drove through the north gate of Edwards AFB each day I really never had time to stop and appreciate the massive aircraft.
The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range subsonic bomber operated still today by the U.S. Air Force. The B-52 entered service in 1955 over 70 years ago. The USAF still operates 58 aircraft out of a fleet of 72 ships. The B-52 has continued to be upgraded with support from Boeing aircraft company. The U.S. Air Force pilots who fly her call the B-52 "Buff." After being upgraded in 2015, the last ships are expected to serve into 2050. This particular information is from Wikipedia.
This B-52 Stratofortress tail "N" number 008 was flown for many years by NASA as a mother ship to drop experimental aircraft from its wing pylon to high altitude flights. This B-52 Stratofortress was modified to launch super hi-performance test aircraft like the X-15 rocket plane and the Hyper-sonic X-43, to name just two. Most launches were from more than 30,000 feet. Powered rocket flights flew to altitudes 100,000 feet and beyond. Some flights went to the edge of space with pilots getting their astronaut wings. The Air Force awards astronaut wings to pilots who flew 50 miles (80 km) high.
This was the oldest flying B-52 until December 2004 when NASA retired the ship. I have heard this is a very low flight hours ship compared to the front line B-52's that the USAF is still flying today. Still keeping the peace.
One of the best things about this particular location is you don't need a special pass or to call ahead to make a reservation. Its open to the public since this B-52 is outside the gates of Edwards AFB. I would go on a calm wind day with pretty blue skies for the best enjoyment. The winds can really kick up out there, specially in the afternoon. So check weather before setting out on this trip.
Easy access is off of highway 58 via off ramp 186 (Edwards AFB). Its less than a mile to see the B-52 Stratofortress. You drive under a bridge that the BNSF railroad uses for its right of way going to Barstow. California. Once you go under this bridge you can see this massive aircraft. You will find plenty of parking and safe sidewalks to use to see this fantastic historic aircraft.
If you have any interest getting involved with aircraft restorations or preservation, there is a need for folks like you. Please contact The Flight Test Museum at Edwards Air Force Base at http://www.flighttestmuseum.org/.