When the President of the United States needs to wield a “big stick” and deliver harsh punishment, he has available the Boeing B–52H Stratofortress, an intercontinental nuclear bomber that also can carry 70,000 pounds of conventional bombs. No one thought when this legendary airplane first flew in 1952—a coincidental date—that this weapon of war would have such longevity.
Commanding the maiden flight was Alvin “Tex” Johnston, the test pilot who dumbfounded spectators a year later by barrel-rolling the prototype Boeing 707 over the Gold Cup Hydroplane Races in Seattle.
America’s B–52s are operated by the Global Strike Command, an evolution of the Strategic Air Command. My invitation to fly one came from the 20th Bomb Squadron of the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would ever have an opportunity to fly a B–52, but some dreams do come true, even wild ones.