For years the B52 has been a fixture in our community and they still are to this day. KSLA News 12 has introduced you to the pilots, taken you inside the aircraft, but now we show you the airmen who keep the signature jet of Barksdale Air Force Base in the sky safely.
Tech Sergeant Nathan Ennis has worked at the base's Repair and Reclamation division for the past year. He has grown accustom to using the base's new, innovative technology that helps him put together hundreds of pounds of rubber and steel. The $300,000 equipment has helped the airmen from doing things the old fashioned way. Before the base installed the technology they were lifting tires and rims by hand.
"Each wheel house is about 350 pounds a piece so we're looking round 700 pounds all together," said Ennis.
If you fill the tire with nitrogen you can tack on another 100 pounds. The shop makes an average of 60 tires a month. Tech Sergeant Byron Landon oversees the work inside the Repair and Reclamation division on base.
"This shop has the capability to build all the wheels for B-52's. We only supply to BAFB currently," said Landon.
So how long does a tire like last on a B-52?
"It all depends on flight. I'd say typically you are going to get two months out of each tire, maybe more," said Landon.
Eight tires per aircraft, at the cost of $30,000 per tire, is a lot of money to burn rubber. But the largest amount of work for the B52s is done inside the phase hanger.
"This is one of the biggest processes that's done at Barksdale. There's roughly 100 people, all working around here."
Inside the massive hanger, crews check all major components of the B52 which keep the aircraft flying properly.
"They pretty much depanel it, take it apart, inspect it, find things wrong and fix it, then put it back together and they're good to go."
A plane inside the hanger would be out of commission for an average of 14 days.
"The B-52 is not a modern aircraft to where it's push a button and all this cool stuff happens. You have very mechanical stuff happening."
"It takes four years to learn it so I need someone that has good mechanical ability, wants to get dirty and work and enjoys it."
Four years that amount to protecting the lives of those who climb into the cockpit and fly the massive fixtures over the Ark-la-tex skies and when needed across the globe.