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December 14, 2004

Dryden Flight Research Center
P.O. Box 273
Edwards, California 93523
Phone 661/276-3449
FAX 661/276-3566

Gray Creech
NASA Dryden Public Affairs
  John Haire/Capt. Kelly George
U.S. Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards AFB
NASA's Famed B-52B "Mothership" Retirement This Friday

B-52 takeoff The end of an era in aerospace history will be marked this Friday, Dec. 17, when NASA retires its venerable B-52B "mothership" heavy-lift launch aircraft.

Image Right: NASA's B-52B launch aircraft takes off carrying the third X-43A hypersonic research vehicle on a captive carry evaluation flight September 27, 2004.

Having launched advanced flight research vehicles over a lengthy career spanning nearly a half century, the venerable air-launch aircraft is being decommissioned in formal ceremonies at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

Jointly hosted by the Air Force Flight Test Center and NASA Dryden, the observance will begin at 10 a.m. PST and will include a formal transfer of the B-52B by NASA Dryden center director Kevin Petersen to Brig. Gen. Curtis M. Bedke, commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center, for its final disposition. Several present and former pilots of the aircraft, including NASA research pilots Gordon Fullerton, Fitz Fulton and Ed Schneider, and Air Force Flight Test Center historian Dr. James Young will also participate in the retirement program.

Operated by NASA Dryden for most of its lifetime, the eight-engine aircraft has participated in some of the most significant projects in aerospace history, ranging from launching the X-15 rocket planes of the 1960s to the hypersonic scramjet-powered X-43A of the 21st century. At retirement, the historic aircraft holds the distinction of being NASA's oldest aircraft, as well as being the oldest B-52 still flyable. Tentative plans call for placing the aircraft on permanent display at Edwards AFB.

Media representatives planning to attend should contact NASA Dryden's Public Affairs office for accreditation immediately by calling (661) 276-3449, by e-mailing requests to gray.creech@dfrc.nasa.gov, or by faxing a request on company letterhead to (661) 276-3566. Please include full name, media organization represented, place and date of birth, driver's license number and state of issue, and the last six digits of your social security number.

   NOTE: This special event is only open to those individuals already authorized access to Edwards AFB and due to long-standing security restrictions is not open to the general public. Photos of the ceremony will be made available on www.edwards.af.mil and http://is2.dfrc.nasa.gov/Gallery/Photo/B-52/index.html .


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