Riding Shotgun in the Sky


Categorie: Air, History, Naval, Steve Weintz |
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B-52s. Vintage Wings of Canada.

B-52s. Vintage Wings of Canada.


The Pentagon’s AirSea Battle concept continues to create heartburn even as wonks and warriors try to think it through. Like the blind men and the elephant, AirSea battle looks like different things from different perspectives. “It’s aimed at the Army.” Or, “it’s aimed at China.” “It’s aggressive and destabilizing.” “It’s fuzzy and has no form.”

A look back into history is instructive. The superb aviation Website Vintage Wings of Canada has a terrific article by Dave O’Malley on the essential martial art of low-altitude, high-speed flight.

Doug Aitken, a retired B-52 commander and OV-10 Forward Air Controller, contributed a fascinating note along with his photo of two Guam-based B-52s buzzing the USS Nimitz in the Indian Ocean. Aitken describes a little-known “influence operation” during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan:

[W]e were tasked by the JCS to fly a mission deep into the Indian Ocean/Persian Gulf to surveil the Soviet fleet. At this time, the U.S. Seventh Fleet was in the area, being shadowed by the Soviets, and their Bear bombers, launching from Afghanistan, were harassing our carriers. The JCS evidently wanted to show the Soviets AND the Iranians that our strategic airpower could reach them that far out. …

The two crews, one from the 37th BS and one from the 77th BS, faced a total of five air refuelings and 30 hours, 30 minutes of flight time. These missions eventually earned the name “Winchester” missions due to the 30-30 time. …

The crews made contact with the U.S. Navy and were vectored to the Soviet fleet. On their first pass, the Soviet crew were on deck waving, at first assuming the aircraft were their Bear bombers. On the second pass, not one member of the Soviet navy was to be seen.”

Read the full article here.


One Response to “Riding Shotgun in the Sky”

  1. A very impressive collection of pictures

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