Aviation History

INTERESTING PHOTO SHOWS B-1A FIRST FLIGHT

The 70-minute, 250-mile flight path was within reach of the Rogers Dry Lake runways during which B-1A basic flight evaluation was conducted

Taken on Dec. 23, 1974, the interesting photo in this post shows the Rockwell International B-1A taking off for its first flight from Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California. The aircraft landed at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB).

The B-1A commander was Rockwell test pilot and retired U.S. Air Force (USAF) Col. Charles Bock, Jr. He was accompanied by Air Force pilot and B-1 Joint Test Force director Col. Emil “Ted” Sturmthal, and flight test engineer Richard Abrams. The 70-minute, 250-mile flight path was within reach of the Rogers Dry Lake runways during which basic flight evaluation was conducted.

The B-1A was initially developed in the 1970s as a replacement for the B-52. Four prototypes of this long-range, high speed (Mach 2.2) strategic bomber were developed and tested in the mid-1970s, but the program was canceled in 1977 before going into production. Flight testing continued through 1981.

The B-1B is an improved variant initiated by the Reagan administration in 1981. Major changes included and additional structure to increase payload by 74,000 pounds, an improved radar and reduction of the radar cross-section (RCS) by an order of magnitude. The inlet was extensively modified as part of this RCS reduction, necessitating a reduction in maximum speed to Mach 1.2.

The first production B-1 flew in October 1984, and the first B-1B was delivered to Dyess AFB, Texas, in June 1985. Initial operational capability (IOC) was achieved on Oct. 1, 1986. The final B-1B was delivered May 2, 1988.

The B-1B holds almost 50 world records for speed, payload, range, and time of climb in its class. The National Aeronautic Association recognized the B-1B for completing one of the 10 most memorable record flights for 1994. The most recent records were made official in 2004.

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. B-1B Lancer 28th FW, 34th BS Thunderbirds, EL/86-129 / 2005

Photo credit: Edwards History Office photo / U.S. Air Force

Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com

Source: U.S. Air Force

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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