NASA's Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership Retirement Ceremony

December 17, 2004



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NASA's Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership was retired in a ceremony at the Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base on Friday December 17, 2004. The NB-52B has been a fixture at Edwards AFB for forty-nine years. It first launched a North American X-15 rocket plane on January 23, 1960. Its final mission was the launch of the third X-43A Hyper-X, which demonstrated that an air-breathing engine can propel a vehicle at Mach-10 on the afternoon of November 16, 2004.

NASA's Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership NASA's Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership was the oldest Stratofortress still flying, yet it had accumulated the fewest flying hours, just 2,443 hours since it first flew in June 1955.

Photography Prints You can buy framed prints of this photograph.

The NB-52B launched the three X-15 hypersonic rocket planes and the Northrop HL-10, Northrop M2-F2/F3, Martin Marietta X-24A and Martin Marietta X-24B lifting bodies. It simulated the steep, power off approach to landing used by the Space Shuttles. It assisted in the collection of data about wake turbulence from large aircraft. It served as an air-to-air gunnery target. It launched 3/8-scale F-15 Remotely Piloted Research Vehicles (RPRV), a Ryan Firebee II drone, Ryan Firebee based Drones for Aeroelastic Structures Testing (DAST), and the Highly Maneuverable Aircraft Technology (HiMAT) RPRVs. It dropped the 48,000-pound Space Shuttle Reusable Booster Drop Test Vehicle (SRB/DTV) and it released a simulated F-111 crew module from its bomb bay to evaluate new parachute recovery systems. It was the first airplane to launch a satellite into orbit on the Orbital Sciences Pegasus booster. It tested the drag chute used to decelerate space shuttle orbiters. It tested pollution reducing fuel additives with a pair of jet engines mounted under its bomb bay. It launched the X-38 Space Station Crew Return Vehicles and the X-43A Hyper-X Supersonic Combustion Ramjet.

Gordon Fullerton and Richard Wheeler NB-52B pilot and former Space Shuttle pilot Gordon Fullerton chatted with Richard Wheeler under the nose of the NB-52B before the ceremony.

Retirement Ceremony Audience Master of Ceremonies Ed Schneider, a former pilot of the NB-52B, instructed all of the members of the audience that worked on the NB-52B and the programs that it supported to stand up.

Fitzhugh Fulton Fitzhugh Fulton addressed the crowd, describing the early days of NB-52B operations, launching the rocket propelled X-15. Fulton piloted the NB-52B when it first launched an X-15 almost 45 years ago.

Gordon Fullerton Gordon Fullerton shared anecdotes about the more recent operations of the NB-52B. Fullerton piloted the last mission of the NB-52B on November 16.

James Young James Young, chief historian of the Air Force Flight Test Center, elaborated on the history of the airplane that has seen and participated in more history than any other airplane.

Brigadier General Curtiss M. Bedke Brigadier General Curtiss M. Bedke, Commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center, also spoke to the assembled crowd.

Ed Schneider, Michael Petersen, General Curtiss Bedke, Fitzhugh Fulton, Gordon Fullerton, and James Young Ed Schneider, Michael Petersen (Director of the Dryden Flight Research Center), General Curtiss Bedke, Fitzhugh Fulton, Gordon Fullerton, and James Young rose to their feet for the official transfer of the NB-52B from NASA back to the Air Force.

Gordon Fullerton Gordon Fullerton showed off a digital clock that saw a lot of use on NB-52B launch missions.

NASA's Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership The crowd milled around the NB-52B after the ceremony.

Gordon Fullerton in the cockpit of NASA's NB-52B Fullerton climbed into the cockpit of the NB-52B to show visitors its antique instrumentation.

The NB-52B will be placed on permanent display just outside the North Gate of the base, where it will be accessible to the public.


More NB-52B Displays

Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress dislays Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership.


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eBook edition of Balls Eight: History of the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership

My book Balls Eight: History of the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership is now available as an eBook for just $10.99, a considerably reduced price compared to the print edition.

It has been asserted that the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, carrying Air Force serial 52-0008, can lay claim to being the airplane that has seen and participated in more history than any other single airplane. For forty-five years, the NB-52B was a fixture at Edwards Air Force Base. While the NB-52B is most famous for launching the three North American X-15 rocket planes, it continued to serve in the role of launch platform for a multitude of programs until its final mission, launching the Mach-10 X-43A Hyper-X, on November 16, 2004. It was the oldest flying B-52 by nearly ten years.

The eBook edition is profusely illustrated with vintage photographs and diagrams and has more pictures than the print edition. It can be dowloaded directly from Lulu.com. It will soon be available from Apple iBookstore, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

Balls Eight: History of the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership

Balls Eight: History of the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership
(eBook)

$10.99

Balls Eight: History of the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership

Balls Eight: History of the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership

Balls Eight: History of the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership

It has been asserted that the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, carrying Air Force serial 52-0008, can lay claim to being the airplane that has seen and participated in more history than any other single airplane. For forty-five years, the NB-52B was a fixture at Edwards Air Force Base. While the NB-52B is most famous for launching the three North American X-15 rocket planes, it continued to serve in the role of launch platform for a multitude of programs until its final mission on November 16, 2004. It was the oldest flying B-52 by nearly ten years.
The NB-52B launched the three X-15 hypersonic rocket planes.
It launched the Northrop HL-10, Northrop M2-F2/F3, Martin Marietta X-24A and Martin Marietta X-24B lifting bodies.
It simulated the steep, power off approach to landing used by the Space Shuttles.
It assisted in the collection of data about wake turbulence from large aircraft.
It served as an air-to-air gunnery target.
It launched 3/8-scale F-15 Remotely Piloted Research Vehicles (RPRV) and Spin Research Vehicles (SRV).
It launched a Ryan Firebee II drone and the Ryan Firebee based Drones for Aeroelastic Structures Testing (DAST).
It launched the Highly Maneuverable Aircraft Technology (HiMAT) RPRVs.
It dropped the 48,000-pound Space Shuttle Reusable Booster Drop Test Vehicle (SRB/DTV).
It released a simulated F-111 crew module from its bomb bay to evaluate new parachute recovery systems.
It was the first airplane to launch a satellite into orbit on the Orbital Sciences Pegasus booster.
It tested the drag chute used to decelerate space shuttle orbiters.
It tested pollution reducing fuel additives with a pair of jet engines mounted under its bomb bay.
It launched the X-38 Space Station Crew Return Vehicles.
It launched the X-43A Hyper-X Supersonic Combustion Ramjets.

The book is 200 pages long. It contains 246 color photographs, 89 black and white photographs, and 2 other illustrations.

You can preview the first several pages of the book.

Books are printed on demand by Lulu.com. When you order one, it is placed in your Lulu.com shopping cart. Lulu.com prints, packages, and ships the book direct to you.

Softcover


Buy Balls Eight: History of the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership on Lulu.
Put a copy of the softcover edition of Balls Eight: History of the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership in your Lulu.com shopping cart for $74.95.

Hardcover


Buy Balls Eight: History of the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership on Lulu.
Put a copy of the hardcover edition of Balls Eight: History of the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership in your Lulu.com shopping cart for $79.95.


Painting Guide for the Boeing Stratofortress Motherships

Painting Guide for the Boeing Stratofortress Motherships

Painting Guide for the Boeing Stratofortress Motherships

Revell has re-released Monogram's 1/72-scale Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress with X-15A-2 kit. You need this book to help you establish the appropriate paint scheme for any particular NB-52B mission that you want to model.

The book is 96 pages long.

You can preview the first several pages of the book.

Books are printed on demand by Lulu.com. When you order one, it is placed in your Lulu.com shopping cart. Lulu.com prints, packages, and ships the book direct to you.


Buy Painting Guide for the Boeing Stratofortress Motherships on Lulu.
Put a copy of the softcover edition of Painting Guide for the Boeing Stratofortress Motherships in your Lulu.com shopping cart for $44.95.


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Balls Eight: Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership

2018 calendar

You can buy a 2018 calendar featuring photographs of the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership that launched the X-15s in the 1960s and continued launching research vehicles until 2004.

Lockett Books Calendar Catalog: Balls Eight: Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership

Lockett Books Calendar Catalog: Balls Eight: Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership

It has been asserted that the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, carrying Air Force serial 52-0008, can lay claim to being the airplane that has seen and participated in more history than any other single airplane. This calendar features a dozen pictures of the NB-52B carrying some of the research vehicles that it launched over the years. Photo sources: Air Force, NASA, Richard Lockett, Brian Lockett:

North American X-15-1, 1960
North American X-15-3, 1963
North American X-15A-2, 1967
Northrop HL-10, 1969
Martin-Mariettta X-24A, 1970
Northrop M2-F3, 1972
Martin-Mariettta X-24B, 1973
Orbital Sciences Pegasus, 1989
Supersonic Supercruise, 1995
X-38 V-131R, 2000
X-43A Hyper-X, 2004

Buy my Balls Eight: Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership 2018 calendar at Lulu! Put a copy of the Balls Eight: Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership: 2018 calendar in your Lulu.com shopping cart for $14.95.

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Books about Lifting Bodies, Edwards Air Force Base, and the X-43 available from

The X-Planes: X-1 to X-45: 3rd Edition by Jay Miller The X-Planes: X-1 to X-45: 3rd Edition by Jay Miller

Flying Without Wings : Nasa Lifting Bodies and the Birth of the Space Shuttle by Milton O. Thompson Flying Without Wings : Nasa Lifting Bodies and the Birth of the Space Shuttle by Milton O. Thompson

Test Colors: The Aircraft of Muroc Army Airfield and Edwards Air Force Base by Rene Francillon Test Colors: The Aircraft of Muroc Army Airfield and Edwards Air Force Base by Rene Francillon

X-Planes at Edwards by Steve Pace X-Planes at Edwards (Enthusiast Color Series) by Steve Pace

Edwards Air Force Base : Open House at the USAF Flight Test Center 1957-1966 by Robert D. Archer Edwards Air Force Base : Open House at the USAF Flight Test Center 1957-1966 : A Photo Chronicle of Aircraft Displayed (Schiffer Military History) by Robert D. Archer

Angle of Attack : Harrison Storms and the Race to the Moon by Mike Gray. The biography of Harrison Storms, who was instrumental in the development and operation of the X-15.

At the Edge of Space : The X-15 Flight Program by Milton O. Thompson. The story of test flying the X-15 from the point of view of the pilot.


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