The Mighty B-1

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/4819569609/

The Mighty B-1

I remember the first and only time I saw a B-1 bomber (actually it was two of them) in flight.  My son and I were driving south on US 385 headed from Marathon to Big Bend National Park in the fall of 2004.  Cruising happily along, two B-1s buzzed diagonally across our path, a few hundred feet off the ground.  It was every bit as cool as any flyover I’d seen before.

I thought about that pass here and there over the years and didn’t quite know what to make of it.  Why were they flying so low?  Why were they flying in that vicinity?  I learned the answers at an airshow I recently attended in Kingsville, TX.  A pilot informed me that the jets were most likely out of Dyess AFB near Abilene, TX and were doing exercises using the below-the-radar flying capabilities of the planes.  The semi-mountainous terrain in that area is perfect for that type of flying — stretches of flat land with mountains jutting from the landscape here and there.

The B-1 fleet is (potentially) slated for retirement due to budget constraints and the changing nature of air warfare.  I really don’t have enough knowledge to have any comments on that but I’m glad I got to see a couple of them fly while they were still in service.  Some of the history and technical info on wikipedia and other sites is a fascinating read if you like that sort of thing.

The image above is a single exposure, no tonemapping…just some curves/levels/sharpness adjustments.  I think it gives a good feel for the size and sleekness of this awesome plane.  You can view an HDR of the underside of a B-1 bomber on flickr here.

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