Military Aviation

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

“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.

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

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.

Recent Posts

The story of why the German Air Force and German Navy dubbed the F-104 Starfighter “Widow Maker”

The F-104 Starfighter Designed as a supersonic superiority fighter, the F-104 Starfighter was produced in… Read More

5 hours ago

Video shows C-130 Hercules “Buddy Start” (engine start utilising the propeller blast of another aircraft to effect engine starting)

The C-130 Hercules The C-130 Hercules primarily performs the tactical portion of the airlift mission.… Read More

5 hours ago

Legendary F-14 pilot Joe “Hoser” Satrapa tells the story of the gun kill on an F-15 that almost sold Tomcats to Japan

Joe “Hoser” Satrapa No dissertation on present-day section tactics, or on naval aviation in general,… Read More

1 day ago

Marine Infantry Rifleman tells why (except the VH-60 White Hawks flown by HMX-1) the USMC doesn’t use the Black Hawk Multirole Helicopter

The Black Hawk Multirole Helicopter The Black Hawk is the military's most versatile helicopter, suited… Read More

1 day ago

USAF reveals AGM-183A ARRW with live warhead in Guam during hypersonic weapon training

AGM-183A ARRW with live warhead in Guam Andersen Air Force Base (AFB) on Feb. 27,… Read More

2 days ago

Operation Tamouré: the only time a French Air Force Mirage IV strategic bomber dropped a live nuclear bomb

The Mirage IV The Suez crisis in October 1956 prompted France to look into setting… Read More

2 days ago