KSLA SALUTES: The B-52 and Aircrew Flight Equipment

Living in Shreveport-Bossier, the B-52 or “Buff” as it’s affectionately known, is a common sight and sound for the area.
Published: Oct. 13, 2022 at 1:31 PM CDT
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BOSSIER CITY, La. (KSLA) - Living in Shreveport-Bossier City, the B-52 or “Buff” as it’s affectionately known, is a common sight and sound for the area.

But other than the biennial Defenders of Liberty Air Show, how often do we get to find out more about this (almost) 100-year-old plane?

We know the B-52 is a long-range strategic bomber, and we know it’s capable of carrying a payload of up to 70,000 lbs. So how does a plane that big manage to stop? With a parachute, of course ... just one that’s much larger than your typical chute. Weighing almost 200 pounds and spanning roughly 90 feet, the drag chute is essential for reducing wear and tear on the Buff and prolonging its lifespan.

KSLA talked with one of the airmen of Aircrew Flight Equipment (AFE) about how important the chute is and what it takes to get it ready.

“The B-52 uses it like a safety buffer. It helps slow it down. One of the first things is we’ll check for debris or anything else that may affect the next deployment. Typically after that, we’ll start with looking at the lines, making sure that those are good and repaired if they need to be. And then after that, we’ll start with the airing of the canopy, looking for other debris within the canopy. And then we’ll start with the folding process and then put it back in that tiny little chute that looks so nice,” said Senior Airman Tyler Barnes.

And while a trained crew can knock this out like it’s nothing, it’s much tougher to do than it looks. The men and women of AFE work together tirelessly to pack these monster chutes and get them ready for inspection. Once inspected, the chutes have a shelf life of 90 days before they have to be unpacked and re-inspected.

It’s not a job someone typically considers when joining the Air Force, but it’s one of the most important.

“Honestly, I love my job. And I think it’s really awesome that I can keep my family safe doing what I do. Not only my family, but our crew members that go up in the B-52s” said Barnes.

Speaking of the Defenders of Liberty Air & Space Show (the 2023 show dates are March 25-26), here are some appearances by the B-52 and other aircraft during 2021 and prior years: