B-1B Ship 2, first aircraft delivered to the Strategic Air Command

Story time: Finally, 5 years after the B-1 program had been turned back on, hundreds of test flights, loss of one airplane and a great test pilot, we were delivering the first B-1B to the Strategic Air Command so they could begin to go operational.

We (the AFSC team) launched the airplane from Edwards. Doug Davis (the best B-1 crew chief) and I went to the ruins of Pancho's bar (see "The Right Stuff" again if you don't know what I mean) with a six-pack of beer. We had just done something pretty damned impressive, been a large part of a team that accelerated the delivery of one of the most sophisticated (and pretty) airplanes ever made. We talked about some of the folks who hadn't been there through the end, about Doug Benefield, and about what we personally were going to do next (probably move over to the just-starting Stealth Bomber flight test program, by the way).

And guess who pulls up in the pickup? SMSgt Larry Law, tobbacco chaw in his mouth. The SAC morons, what's the first thing they have done? Broken our pretty airplane. It landed at Offutt AFB and blew out an engine. And they were spazzing, they couldn't deal with it. We had to fly up that night to fix our baby. Losers.

So we grabbed a crew of reliable guys and went up. Replaced the engine (had to bring that, too) and figured out what happened (the precooler flapper doors had had a bolt come lose, the bolt rattled down the inlet and fragged out the engine), put it all back together and got it ready to fly again. All, by the way, without SAC involvement, we didn't need them meddling again. We, not the SAC guys, launched the airplane to Dyess AFB. And, as I recall, did the can-can for the flight crew as they taxied out. True.

Two pictures:

Inside the Hangar, July 1985.

The Edwards crew at Offut in the NEACAP (national emergency airborne command post) hanger.

Left to right:
Some engine guy. Damn, I forget his name. Gene something. But I do have a story about him from this trip, I shouldn't tell it. It's kinda ugly, and involves wimmin and cops.
Doug Parker, engine guy. And yes, he was as smarmy as that grin shows.
Me, in my inlet-crawling whites, I had just come out from under the left overwing fairing area. By the way, this picture was taken at 2 AM, so the sunglasses are purely for show and style.
Steve Lee, crew cheif and good guy
Doug Davis, best Crew Chief on the B-1 program
Some other guy, a newish member of the team and never memorable.

News story from the local fishwrapper (Omaha World-herald, forsooth) when the airplane took off.