Military Aviation

The story of B-52 Ghost Rider, the first BUFF to be resurrected from AMARG to rejoin USAF Strategic Bomber Fleet

Tinker’s 565th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron completed the overhaul, modernization and restoration work of B-52 Ghost Rider in 272 calendar days.

The unique images in this post show the first B-52H Stratofortress to be resurrected from long-term storage at the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) to rejoin the active strategic bomber fleet.

As told by John Parker, 72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs, in the article ‘Ghost Rider’ in the sky: B-52 departs Tinker in historic flight, the historic flight of tail number 61-0007 (known as “Ghost Rider” on its nose art) which took place at Tinker Air Force Base (AFB) on Sep. 27, 2016, marked the end of the warbird’s 19-month transformation from a mothballed, 55-year-old, eight-engine jet parked in the Arizona desert to a fully updated conventional- and nuclear-capable global strike bomber platform.

Tinker’s 76th Aircraft Maintenance Group handed over the plane 90 days ahead of schedule to Air Force Global Strike Command. Ghost Rider joined the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, North Dakota.

“I am extremely proud of the team that was able to deliver Ghost Rider back to Air Force Global Strike Command,” said Brig. Gen. Mark Johnson, the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex commander. “This is really a testament to accomplishing the art of the possible. It shows that when there is a common goal, team members from across multiple organizations can rally behind the objective and deliver their team’s full impact to the project.”

Tinker’s 565th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron completed the overhaul, modernization and restoration work in 272 calendar days.

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Charles Alley, then 565th AMXS director, said maintainers, engineers and support teams were excited to work on the historic project, spending approximately 45,000 man-hours restoring Ghost Rider to fighting shape.

Alley said pilots of Tinker’s 10th Flight Test Squadron flew the B-52 six times to verify system functionality and ensure a safe and reliable aircraft before declaring the plane ready for delivery on Sep. 13, 2016.

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. B-52H Stratofortress 2nd BW, 20th BS, LA/60-0008 “Lucky Lady IV”. Barksdale AFB, LA

The jet needed an extra 7,000 hours over normal programmed depot maintenance to “get it up to speed with all the other B-52s in the fleet,” Alley said.

“I told people during test flight that because the aircraft sat in the desert so long, we’re knocking all the ghosts out of it,” he said. “It seemed like every time it came back it had two or three different things wrong with it.”

Tape lines and the high-speed vinyl decal have been placed on the nose of B-52H 61-0007, ‘Ghost Rider,’ for oplacement checks before being applied inside the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex, Sep. 21, 2016, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. ‘Ghost Rider’ is the first B-52 to ever be regenerated from long-term storage with the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., and returned to fully-operational flying status.

Lt. Col. Darrel Hines, a B-52 flight commander with the 10th FTS, flew the plane from Arizona to Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, in February 2015, and flew in part of the six final functional test flights. The plane arrived at Tinker AFB on Dec. 14, 2015, with overhaul and maintenance work beginning Dec. 31, 2015. The plane was due to be delivered later this year on Dec. 23 but was delivered 90 days early. Hines praised all the organizations involved in the restoration, including the 309th AMARG, the OC-ALC, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, and above all the maintainers whose skilled hands-on work made the difference.

“This was a great team effort from multiple commands and it was a great success,” Hines said. “Now this plane is going to come out of Tinker back to the warfighter, and it’s going to be a huge asset to the guys going out in combat.”

Ghost Rider joined 75 other B-52Hs in the Air Force’s operational bomber fleet.

Photo credit: Kelly White and Greg L. Davis, / U.S. Air Force

Artwork courtesy of

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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