16 November 2004

Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress 52-008, Balls 8, escorted by two NASA F-18 chase planes, performs a farewell flyover during its final flight, 16 November 2004. (NASA)
Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress 52-008, Balls 8, escorted by two NASA F-18 chase planes, performs a farewell flyover during its final flight, 16 November 2004. (NASA)

16 November 2004: Balls 8, the Boeing NB-52B “mothership” at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center (located at Edwards Air Force Base, California) performs a farewell flyover during its final flight. 52-008 was both the oldest airplane in the U.S. Air Force inventory and the lowest time B-52 Stratofortress still operational.

Boeing RB-52B-10-BO Stratofortress 52-008 was built at Seattle, Washington and made its first flight 11 June 1955. It was turned over to NASA 8 June 1959 for use as a air launch vehicle for the X-15 rocketplane. North American Aviation modified the bomber for its new role at Air Force Plant 42, Palmdale, California. It was redesignated NB-52B.

NASA 008, known as “Balls 8”, a modified Boeing RB-52-10-BO Stratofortress, 52-008, with NASA 824, a Lockheed TF-104G Starfighter, N824NA. (NASA)

52-008 carried an X-15 for the first time 23 January 1960. Sharing the mothership responsibilities with the earlier NB-52A 52-003, Balls 8 carried the X-15s aloft on 159 flights, dropping them 106 times.

Balls 8 lands on a runway marked on Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The drogue parachute helps to slow the airplane. (NASA)
A visual reminder of the missions flown by “mothership” Balls 8. (NASA)
A visual reminder of the missions flown by “mothership” Balls 8. (NASA)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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1 thought on “16 November 2004

  1. From: http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_serials/1952.html

    008 converted to NB-52B carrier aircraft for X-15 and Lifting Body research programs. To NASA as 008. Scheduled to be retired from active service with NASA Dec 17, 2004. To be retired to permanent display at west gate of Edwards AFB. In Dec 2012 was still seen at North Edwards, which means that it may not be going to the West gate.

    Thankfully they didn’t scrap her.

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