Cold War Era

MITO SAC Style: watch B-52Gs and KC-135As performing a Minimum Interval Takeoff Departure

The B-52G’s and KC-135A’s featured in the clip are from the 416 BMW, at the former Griffiss AFB, NY.

The video in this post shows how Strategic Air Command (SAC) aircraft did a Minimum Interval Takeoff (MITO) departure back in the day, BEFORE the collapse of the Soviet Union. According to the footage description the B-52G’s and KC-135A’s featured in the clip are from the 416 BMW, at the former Griffiss AFB, NY. The Buff with the old “lizzard” paint scheme was flown by Capt. John Hannen. The loud voices heard in the video are the main specialists that stayed up all night getting the airplanes ready.

As explained by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland, 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs in the article Bomber crews showcase take-off talents, during a MITO, each aircraft is equipped with eight starter cartridges filled with gunpowder, that allows the engines to start up faster than a normal takeoff.

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. KC-135R Stratotanker 161st Air Refueling Wing, 197th Air Refueling Squadron “Copperheads”, 63-8038 – Arizona Air National Guard – Sky Harbor ANG Base, AZ

As Senior Airman Mitchell Dexter, aircraft powerplant specialist with 96th Aircraft Maintenance Unit belonging to 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base explains “We use starter carts so we are able to get the engines started faster than using traditional methods, which allows us to get the planes started and taxing within minutes from the alert call.”

Common place during the Cold War, a MITO challenges crews to get multiple aircraft off the ground within 15 minutes of initial alert notices. 

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“The MITO proves the teamwork between both the aircrews and ground crews is solid,” said Col. David Foote, 2nd Maintenance Group commander. “This allows us to provide nuclear deterrence giving our allies the assurance that we have the capability needed to deter our adversaries.”

While the small launch window is challenging in itself, turbulence created from the leading aircraft can create rough air for the following planes, testing the aircrew’s skills.

Although the days of the Cold War are over, a MITO showcases the operational capability USAF’s bombers continue to maintain, proving aircrew and maintenance personnel are ready to perform and execute at a moment’s notice.

Photo credit: 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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