Air-Minded: Bullets, Buffs, and the Contra-Rotating Nissen Hut

Speaking of bullets:

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30mm TP, Pima Air & Space Museum (photo: Paul Woodford)

These are 30mm casings and one complete 30mm TP (target practice) round. The display is next to the Pima Air & Space Museum‘s A-10 Warthog, an attack aircraft literally built around a 30mm Gatling gun. I put my motorcycle keys on top of the display to help indicate scale. Now here’s something for Barbara Boxer and Obama to raise a stink over, as my gun nut friends might say. Although, if you think about it, next to a 155mm Howitzer round 30mm is downright small … harmless by comparison!

Remember that USAF lieutenant colonel who crashed a B-52 during a practice airshow at Fairchild AFB in 1994? Everyone has seen the crash porn video, I’m sure. I remember that during the investigation it emerged that this particular pilot, Bud Holland, had been hotdogging his entire career, violating flight discipline again and again, with photos and videos to prove it. Squadron commanders (his fellow lieutenant colonels) knew he was an accident waiting to happen, and some refused to allow junior crewmembers to fly with the man. Yet colonels and generals kept him around and protected him, and indeed one of them … the vice wing commander, a colonel … flew with him that day and died in the crash.

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B-52 low pass, USS Ranger, 1990 (photo credit: unknown)

So when I saw this photo, my first reaction was to wonder if this was Bud Holland doing his thing. This photo is currently popping up on aviation blogs and Facebook, accompanied by uninformed commentary suggesting it was taken sometime during the last few days. Actually it’s an old photo, as indicated by the presence of F-14s (an aircraft the Navy no longer flies) on the carrier deck, so it really could be Bud Holland. According to the Tailhook Association, this shot was taken from the deck of the USS Ranger in the Persian Gulf in 1990. There are additional photos here.

Well, if this wasn’t the asshole who crashed at Fairchild, it indicates that his casual attitude toward flight discipline was widely shared in the B-52 community. I’m not saying I didn’t do plenty of hotdogging myself … there’s not a fighter pilot alive who hasn’t … but had anyone ever taken a photo of me doing it, and had that photo found its way to my commander’s desk, I would have been grounded in a heartbeat. Why wasn’t the pilot of this B-52, supposing it was someone other than Bud Holland, grounded? Maybe he was. But that brings me back to Bud Holland, who did shit like this all the time, on and off camera. You know his bosses knew about it. So why was he never grounded? Golden boy syndrome?

One more air museum photo, and then I’ll quit. This is our newly-restored AVRO Shackleton, now on display. Got props?

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AVRO AEW.2 Shakleton, Pima Air & Space Museum (photo: Paul Woodford)

© 2013 – 2015, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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