Tinker AFB Returns Historic 'Ghost Rider' B-52 To Service

Monday, October 3rd 2016, 11:50 am
By: News On 6

A B-52 bomber named Ghost Rider, which spent years in the Arizona boneyard, is back in service after getting a major update at Tinker Air Force Base.

The B-52H Stratofortress left Tinker on September 27, 2016 and headed to Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, completing a 19-month transformation.

It's the first B-52H ever to be resurrected from being mothballed at the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, better known as the boneyard, near Tucson, Arizona.

Ghost Rider's resurrection was put into motion on January 28, 2014, when an oxygen leak caused a fire on a B-52H at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

A treaty limits the number of operational B-52s to 76, so each one is vital to the Pentagon. The Air Force determined repairing the plane would be too expensive, so the alternative was to replace it with a jet from the boneyard. The Air Force selected B-52H serial number 61-0007, nicknamed Ghost Rider, which had been in storage in the desert for seven years. 

It took 70 days to get Ghost Rider ready to fly to Barksdale. Missing some of its navigation equipment and with a crew of only three on board, Ghost Rider made the flight in February of 2015, at a slow speed and with her landing gear down the whole way.

After receiving some equipment from the damaged jet, Ghost Rider was flown to Tinker Air Force Base on December 14, 2015.

The repair and overhaul crews with Tinker’s 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group put in 45,000 man hours on the plane, replacing worn out parts and updating its systems, finishing the job 90 days ahead of schedule.

Flight crews made six test flights in Ghost Rider, with the airplane's skin in natural metal finish. It couldn't be painted until it passed all the checks. Once it did a crew spent three days covering it with the familiar dark gray paint. The crew then re-applied its famous "Ghost Rider" nose art.

On Tuesday, September 27, 2016, Ghost Rider left Tinker and joined the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, North Dakota.

While the work on Ghost Rider was under way, another B-52 was damaged on Guam. No decision about repairing it or replacing is has been made yet.