Boeing

B-52: View From the Inside

By Arthur Paton

November 2016

I flew on B-52 aircraft in my role as a flight controls and navigation systems technician. We often flew with the crew to troubleshoot systems in flight. I flew in combat with aircrews during the Vietnam war. I always felt safe in the big B-52. The escape systems were set up to work for me, too. I often sat right under the air refueling doors during refueling, with the fuel gushing into our tanks from the KC-135. I found it easy to maintain the B-52 and its systems. Training was good and test equipment great to work with.

One signature flight was on an air sampling mission after someone else's nuclear test. We were at 43,000 feet on pressurized oxygen at night. I was standing on the ladder from the lower deck to the upper deck, looking out the small square window at the top of the ladder. Before me was a full deck of stratocumulus clouds like a giant cobblestone patio. Above us was a full moon that painted the top of the clouds a shiny, ghostly silver. Stunning. It always reminded me why I loved flying in the B-52.