Bradford Runyon Interview, 25 February 2005

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TTSo you had three types of alert? (Laughs) well you were always on alert essentially.
BRWell you had your normal ground alert which is, you know, seven, up there it was for a seven day period. You'd stay basically in an alert facility where you're right with the airplanes so you have quick reaction time. And at the end of your seven days you'd have usually four days free time, then you'd fly a couple of training missions, then go back on alert again. But then different bases would have the airborne alert, it was a rotational thing, and at certain time periods we would have airplanes flying airborne alert, we would have planes in the air 24 hours a day loaded with nuclear bombs, and other airplanes would still be on ground alert at the same time and other people would be flying training missions.
TTAnd those airborne alerts were 24-hour alert periods?
BRYes, well actually it was, we were on station for 12 hours but it would take us 6 hours to get there, 6 hours back, and I believe it was, you know, with Don Cagle when we were flying airborne alert one time we had a big problem with Northern Lights. I mean it was—
TTYou're up around the pole, the North Pole...
BRYeah we are up around the North Pole.
TTYeah, all the way down to Greenland you were flying?
BRYeah we would, we had a big, a big loop down there where we just orbited but Greenland was the closest place you know, for two hundred miles away we could see the lights of Greenland. But we were unable to get our fuel due to the Northern Lights this one time but still, being an H model, we were able to spend our 12 hours on alert. And then, six hours back home, then one of our gear wouldn't come down on one side so we had to burn off fuel to get our weight down plus we balanced the airplane. So we ended up flying thirty hours and still had twenty tons of fuel left. I thought it was pretty amazing.
TTWhat happened with the landing gear?
BRIt just did not come down.
TTSo you landed without it.
BROh yeah, you know, B-52's have so many backups, have 8 engines, have extra engines, have extra landing gear.
TTSo those landing gear actually had the ability to adjust to cross wind.
BRThe wings are so wide, why then, if you have a cross wind you either crab into the wind or lower your wing or do both. You know you can't lower your wing on B-52's because the wing tip would hit before your landing gear would so you just crab into the wind, but then you can't land with the gear sideways, so you crank your gear around to line up with the runway.
TTYeah, it's amazing.
BRIt really is.
TTThat was a real secret, wasn't it for a long time.

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