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The U.S. Air Force Is Bringing the B-52 Bomber Back From the Dead

There have been plenty of films – many that star Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger – that tell of a retired and aging veteran called back to military service, yet in reality, it probably doesn’t happen all that much. However, it isn’t that uncommon for older military hardware to return to service after being mothballed or sent out to the not-so-proverbial pasture.

The Bomber That Won’t Die 

In the case of military aircraft, there is the “Boneyard,” located at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (AFB) where retired aircraft are in fact preserved for such occasions. This month Minot AFB, N.D. announced that a once-retired B-52 will soon be back in action and flying high again. The strategic bomber, nicknamed “Wise Guy,” has been brought back from retirement and “resurrected” for service at the base.

Minot AFB’s public affairs unit released a video on social media of Wise Guy’s arrival of the base on March 9 and noted that it will replace another B-52 that had been destroyed in a fire in Guam.

Despite the facility’s name, aircraft sent to the Boneyard don’t actually slowly return to the ground from which they came. Rather the aircraft are monitored and maintained accordingly.

“When they’re in storage like that they have an entire group that does all of the required inspections and servicing down there, so they are extremely well taken care of. That environment is extremely kind to the aircraft, the airframes,” Chief Master Sgt. Ryan Thompson, 69th Aircraft Maintenance Unit superintendent, said in a statement as reported by KFYR, the local Fox TV affiliate.

How a B-52 Comes Back from the Dead

It was in rough shape according to The Aviation Geek, which reported Wise Guy had cracks in the rear landing gear and was missing two of its engines. However, a team of experts was able to address the issues and return the aircraft to top condition, and throughout the efforts, there were teams of 13 to 20 maintainers working on it at various times.

With its arrival at Minot, the aircraft will receive a few more final tweaks over the next few weeks, and then it will be mission-ready.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on

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