B-52 Stratofortress to fly over Prague as part of NATO Days

The long-range bomber will make a 30-hour flight from the US to the Czech Republic and back without stopping

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 18.09.2020 11:01 (updated on 18.10.2020)

An American B-52 Stratofortress will fly over Prague as part of NATO Days in Ostrava & Czech Air Force Days, which will take place September 19–20 at Leoš Janáček Ostrava Airport in Otrava.

A KC-135 Stratotanker from Nebraska and four F-16 Fighting Falcons from European bases will accompany a B-52 Stratofortress that will fly a non-stop round-trip directly from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

The formation will then continue to Prague and Plzeň. People will be able to see the formation of planes above Prague at on September 19 at approximately 1 pm in the direction from Kbely Airport via the main railway station, Hlavní nádraží, and further southeast. Ten minutes later, the pilots will fly over Plzeň directly over the “Thank you, America!” monument. Then the planes head back to their home bases.

The crew will endure an almost 30-hour journey without landing, during which they will conduct air-to-air refueling from the KC-135.

“Dynamic aerial demonstration of American and Czech Air Force aircraft over the airport in Mošnov, which traditionally hosts NATO Days in Ostrava, is symbolic to express American support for its reliable ally,” US Embassy spokesman Griffin Rozell said.

A B-52 taking off from Tinker AFB / Wikimedia coommons, CC0

Zbyněk Pavlačík, the chairman of security organization Jagello 2000, called the B-52 an icon  and a symbol of NATO Days. “We can hardly imagine the event without the presence of this extraordinary aircraft. We are more than happy that the US Air Force decided to make the fly over the Mošnov Airport and cities of Prague and Plzeň so that more people can watch how the sky is filled with the wings of the American giants,” he said.

Close cooperation with the United States began in 1993, before accession to NATO in 1999. “It is gradually expanding, not only in the area of training, but also in the field of equipment. The last such project is the purchase of 12 Viper and Venom helicopters,” Czech Defense Minister Lubomír Metnar said

Czech General Aleš Opata, chief of the General Staff of the Czech Army, said the country has great long-term cooperation with the US military. “We work together in foreign operations, organize exercises and cooperate on the education system. We have years of working with the Texas and Nebraska National Guard. Regular joint exercises include the ongoing Ample Strike,” he said.

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress — a long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber — made its first flight in 1952 and went into service in 1955. It has a range of more than 14,080 km without aerial refueling.

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It was built to carry nuclear weapons in the Cold War-era, but in combat so far it has dropped only conventional munitions. As of June 2019, 58 are in active service, 18 in reserve, and approximately 12 more aircraft in long-term storage. The airplanes are expected to be in service into the 2050s.

The plane played a key role in Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 black comedy film Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. There was also a hairstyle in the 1960s called a B-52 due to its resemblance to the aircraft’s nose. The 1980s New Wave band the B-52’s was named after this hairstyle.