‘Ghost Rider’ Rises From the Grave to Fly Again!
- Dean Doughty
- February 24, 2015
If you have yet to visit the Pima Air and Space Museum here in Arizona (Tucson), what are you waiting for?! It is one of the world’s largest aerospace museum competing only with the Smithsonian collection. The museum features a display of nearly 300 aircraft spread out over 80 acres on spacious grounds occupying 127 acres. It is also, since 1991, been home to the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame.
Across from the museum is another landscape of planes, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base where tours are often conjoined with the Air & Space Museum. But it’s at the air force base that for the first time the U.S. Air Force has resurrected a B-52 bomber that had been in long-term storage at the Boneyard, the portion of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, where the military sends aircraft that have been retired from the fleet.
The 53-year-old Stratofortress, tail number 61-1007, nicknamed the “Ghost Rider” had been in storage under the care of the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) since 2008. Thousands of aircraft are stored at the Boneyard, where the dry desert environment helps preserve them. Some are scavenged to supply parts to planes still in the fleet. Others are brought back into service. Ghost Rider, after upgrades, will become the first B-52 to return to duty from the Boneyard.
After numerous repairs and reconstructions, the plane’s engines were tested and tested again in January. On February 13, Ghost Rider took to the sky once again, on a three-hour flight from Davis-Monthan to its new home, Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, Louisiana. The renovation and resurrection process took 70 days, according to the Air Force report. However, once in flight, the control systems gave no indication of prior retirement.
For the time being, Ghost Rider will sit beside a damaged B-52 for transfer of usable, updated equipment and is expected to resume active flight service next year.