Wise Guy Returns to Service

  • Published
  • By Courtesy Writer: Rod Wilson, Northern Sentry
  • Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

Approximately 13 years ago B-52 60-034 left Minot Air Force Base, headed for Arizona as part of a reduction in forces. The number of planes that had the same destiny as Wise Guy numbers between 10 and 15 according to sources at Minot Air Force Base. Expectations were that these planes may not see active duty again, but those expectations were proven wrong. Never say never as they say.

On Tuesday, March 9th, almost 60 minutes early of an announced 1330 arrival at Minot Air Force Base, Wise Guy would touch down on the runway where this B-52H would have flown from for almost 20 years, once again. With a fresh coat of paint and almost 2 years of refurbishing and modernizing, Wise Guy would taxi slowly to the once active “Alert Area” where B-52’s stood sentinel during the cold war of the late 60’s and 70’s. Aside from the welcoming party for Wise Guy, the area is now vacant.

SMSgt Chris McCauley, now the Maintenance Superintendent for the 5 BW, remembers Wise Guy from the first tour of duty the jet had. “I have worked on B-52’s all of my career” says McCauley, he joined the Air Force in September of 1999, and arrived in Minot on April 1st of 2000. For McCauley, it would be hard to remember just one B-52, “especially if they weren’t hard to work on. You know, some planes just seem to be more difficult” says McCauley, but he is convinced that Wise Guy was probably a “good plane when it was here the first time” as he couldn’t remember Wise Guy being one of those difficult planes to work on.

On the flight line to welcome Wise Guy back to Minot was CMSgt Ryan Thompson of the 5th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. Chief Thompson was sent to Davis-Monthan AFB to begin the regeneration process on Wise Guy  about 2 years ago. The length of the reclamation period was determined both by the amount of maintenance that needed to be performed, and the budget. “For example, Wise Guy took the place of the B-52 that was destroyed at Tinker AFB for PDM (Programmed Depot Maintenance). The first B-52 that was regenerated, Ghost Rider, by chance happened to be at Tinker as the same time as Wise Guy undergoing the PDM, a maintenance procedure that takes place every 4 years. In Wise Guy’s situation, the PDM was the end of a 3- stage process of regeneration. “It took us 3 months to get Wise Guy ready to fly to Barksdale AFB to begin regeneration” according to CMSgt Thompson, “after that it was Barksdale and then Tinker.”

How soon will Wise Guy return to the fleet? “We are anticipating 21 days until Wise Guy is back on line” according to Thompson.