The B-1 At Farnborough
In 1982, to boost congressional and public interest, the Pentagon and the B-1 program office at Wright Patterson decided that a public display of the B-1 would incite interest and insure that everyone would be happier with the idea of spending $20 billion 1981 dollars building 100 of these things. The best place to do this was to deploy the aircraft to the Farnborough Air Show at Farnborough, England. Read up elsewhere on the signifacance of Farnborough to the aircraft industry. What it meant for us on the B-1 test team was ramping up from a dead stop, with mothballed airplanes, to a transatlantic beauty flight. We did it with a small team and a lot of sweat. I was fortunate enough to accompany the team for hydraulic and flight control systems. I also had the sub-responsiblity for re-loading the instrumentation camera on the top of the vertical stabilizer. This might be a beauty flight, but the test team was devoted to getting treal test data along the way.
The flight over was non-stop from Edwards to Farnborough. 4 crew flew the B-1, pilots Lt. Col. LeRoy Schroeder and Rockwell Cheif Pilot Doug Benefield, with one offensive operator and one defensive operator in the back. I cannot remember the defensive operators name who flew over Capt. Otto Wancek was in the offensive seat. The support crew from Rockwell and the Air Force, as well as replacement aircrews, accompanied the flight in a KC-10.
The B-1 was re-fueled on the trip by the refuling wing in Maine, who were getting their first experience refueling the aircraft with their then-new KC-10 refuelers. An interesting sidelight of this (and I have no photograph, more's the pity) was after all the tankers had a chance to hook up to the B-1, theey actually flew off to the left about a mile and stacked themselves, at one point there were 5 KC-10's connected in decending line by their refuling booms. Never saw that before....
The return trip inclided a stop at Andrews Air Force base outside Washington, D.C. This gave the progam office the opportunity to invite both supportive senators and represenatives, as well as those opposed, out to the airplane, give them cockpit tours, and impress them with the might they were paying for.
Inital takeoff from Andrews was, well, not a good thing and the airplane landed again for repairs (maybe I'll tell the story sometime). T3 days later off to Offut Air Force Base in Nebraska, Strategic Air Command HQ, so more people could be impressed.
Besides the emergency taking off from Andrews, the flights were pretty good. Well, except for the hydraulic guy (me). Each landing shelled out one of the 8 hydraulic pumps, so each landing meant I had to change a pump. The problem (for those who care) ended up being a batch of pumps with softer than spec wobble plates.
B-1 prototype 4 landing at Farnborough 1982
Overhead, Farnbrough 1982
Me fixing a damned pump, Farnborough 1982.
B-1 Ship 4 at Offutt AFB with crew
B-1 press and public notes booklet
And a scan of the Strategic Air Command contribution. A cheezy lil paper stick-on patch.
Patch TriviaWe all wore a special commemorative patch for this event, scanned in above.