Former B-52 driver explains what it's like performing a Minimum Interval Takeoff (MITO) departure

Former B-52 driver explains what it’s like performing a Minimum Interval Takeoff (MITO) departure

By Dario Leone
Jul 4 2018
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“One of the most insane maneuvers we practiced in SAC was the MITO, where we would take off fifteen seconds behind the preceding B-52 to practice our wartime departure procedures,” Jay Lacklen, former B-52 pilot

The cool video in this post features U.S. Air Force (USAF) B-52 Stratofortress bombers during a Minimum Interval Takeoff (MITO) exercise.

A Minimum Interval Takeoff is a technique of the USAF for scrambling all available bomber and tanker aircraft at twelve and fifteen second intervals, respectively. Before takeoff, the aircraft perform an elephant walk to the runway. MITO is designed to maximize the number of aircraft launched in the least amount of time possible before the base faced a nuclear strike, which would obliterate all remaining aircraft.

Jay Lacklen, former Strategic Air Command (SAC) B-52 pilot describes what it’s like performing a MITO in his book Flying the Line: An Air Force Pilot’s Journey.

“One of the most insane maneuvers we practiced in SAC was the MITO, where we would take off fifteen seconds behind the preceding B-52 to practice our wartime departure procedures. We all had to get into the air within fifteen minutes, so this type of takeoff was necessary. However, it led to frantic thrashing of the yoke and rudders to maintain some semblance of control in the direct jet wash of the preceding plane. I clearly recall having full right turn commands with the flight controls and still rolling hard left as the vortices from the preceding plane put us temporarily out of control.

Former B-52 driver explains what it's like performing a Minimum Interval Takeoff (MITO) departure
This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. B-52H Stratofortress 2nd BW, 20th BS, LA/60-0008 “Lucky Lady IV”.

“Fortunately, after a few seconds, we would escape the jet blast and recover control of the plane. We would then adjust our heading to fly a path different from the preceding planes to avoid subsequent interference. Once in the air, it was imperative to get away from the base as fast as possible since for the actual wartime takeoff, one or more Soviet ICBMs would probably be en route to obliterate the home field in a nuclear detonation. We could assume that everything we had left, including our compatriots and families. would be irrevocably gone soon after our departure and there would be nothing left to return to.”

Photo credit: SSgt. Phil Schmitten / U.S. Air Force

Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com


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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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