The US Air Force's Global Strike Command is planning on commemorating the 60th anniversary of the first flight of the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress on 15 April. The original event happened on 15 April, 1952, when the YB-52 prototype took to the air over Seattle, Washington.
Unlike the current B-52 flying today, the original two test planes had the crew sitting in tandem similar to the earlier B-47 aircraft.
Anyways, the B-52 has been in the USAF fleet for so long that there are quite literally generations who have flown the type. One such example is the 23rd Bomb Squadron's 1st Lt Daniel Welch, who is stationed at Minot AFB, North Dakota. His dad and grandfather both flew the eight-engine bomber.
There is a joke in the USAF that when any given newer type of bomber is retired to the "Boneyard", the last crew who drops off that aircraft to Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona will be picked up in a B-52. And there is more than a grain of truth to that...
The B-52 has outlived all of its would be replacements.
Remember the B-58 Hustler Mach 2+ bomber? Gone. XB-70--it's in a museum in Ohio. FB-111? Those are
rotting away in the desert somewhere. And probably so will the B-1 and B-2 when
it comes to their turn... (Don't have a crystal ball, just willing to make that bet)
The USAF is working on a new stealth bomber under a new program called the Long Range Strike-Bomber as part of its classified budget. The service wants 80 to 100 of the aircraft to enter service in the mid-2020s and cost $550 million each. It will rely on "mature technologies" --even if it's supposed to be optionally manned--and the USAF will watch its appetite for added new capabilities, Air Force chief Gen. Norton Schwartz insists. But he's leaving in a couple of months- what then?
The USAF has a long track record of bungling acquisitions programs and overreaching on technical requirements--so the jury is still out on if this new LRS-B will ever see the light of day.
Given the ever aging and ever shrinking USAF bomber fleet, it had better work out better than the F-22 and F-35 programs, much less the ill-fated Navy A-12 program (which was also developed largely in the classified space).
The Global Strike Command has put together a timeline here:
April 15, 1952 - The first flight of the YB-52 Stratofortress will be commemorated with a long-duration flight from AFGSC Headquarters at Barksdale.
May 10 through Oct. 23, 1972 - Operation Linebacker - Linebacker was the first continuous bombing effort conducted against North Vietnam since the bombing halt instituted by President Lyndon B. Johnson in November 1968.
June 18, 1965 - Operation Arc Light - The first use of the B-52D Stratofortress as a conventional bomber from bases in the U.S. to Guam to support ground combat operations in Vietnam.
Aug. 2, 1994 - B-52's first round-the-world bombing mission.
Oct. 26, 1962 - Strategic Air Command received the last B-52 from production line
Dec. 18 through 29, 1972 - Operation Linebacker II - This operation saw the largest heavy bomber strikes launched by the U.S. Air Force since the end of World War II.