Abilene Road Trip
Disclaimer: No railroad-related content in this post. You can’t say I didn’t warn you. However, if you have any interest in USAF bombers….
We made a quick road trip to Abilene, Texas a couple of weeks ago. Our oldest son, Andy, is a Senior Airman stationed at Dyess AFB. He invited us to join him at the Dyess Big Country Air Fest that took place this past April 28th.
We enjoyed a long, hot day on the Dyess flight line. I ended up with way too many images to post here, but here are a few of my favorites.
Dyess is home to the 7th Bomb Wing, operating 40 B-1B bombers in a training capacity stateside and combat missions over Afghanistan. Here’s s/n 86-0108 on display.
S/N 85-0090 taxied by us several times
Later, the 090 did a high-speed, wings swept back flyover :
The B-1′s immediate predecessor, the B-52 was on hand from Barksdale AFB in Shreveport.
The B-52′s mission has evolved dramatically over the years. It began as a strategic nuclear bomber in the 1950′s, becoming a conventional carpet-bomber in Viet Nam in the 1960′s, later a cruise-missile platform in the 1980′s and 90′s, and now a tactical bomber in Iraq and Afghanistan. USAF intends to keep the B-52 in service until 2045, more than 85 years after the B-52 entered service and an unprecedented length of service for a military aircraft.
Later, a B-2 from Whiteman AFB did a few passes over Dyess. It’s hard for me to grasp how an airplane can cost over $2 billion dollars, $2.131 billion (1996 dollars) to be precise, but it’s still an amazing thing to see fly by.
At the other end of the cost spectrum is the A-10 Thunderbolt, a steal at $11.8 million (1994 dollars). The A-10 is unique in that the aircraft was designed around the GAU-8 30mm cannon, among the largest, heaviest and most powerful aircraft cannons U.S. military. Designed specifically as an anti-tank weapon, the GAU-8 delivers very powerful depleted uranium rounds at a high rate of fire.
A wide spectrum of other aircraft, from Japanese Zero fighters to a USAF KC-10 tanker were on hand. They may be the subject of a later post. We shall see…