The Wings over Wairarapa Air Festival, held at Hood Aerodrome in Masterton, north of Wellington, has this year included a USAF B-52H Stratofortress on its public display schedule. In a show of global presence, the long-range, strategic bomber flew direct from Andersen AFB in Guam as ‘BOLD96’ and performed three flypasts prior to flying back to base. The aircraft was meant to perform a flyover of Wellington as well, however this was cancelled due to airspace congestion.
Covering a total distance of nearly 14,000km this put the aircraft at the limit of its published range. This meant that it required refueling support from four KC-135 Stratotankers from the 909th Aerial Refueling Squadron (909ARS) ‘Young Tigers’ (Kadena AB, Japan).
The four Stratotankers, consisting of KC-135T 59-1520 ‘PEARL31’, KC-135R 62-3562 ‘PEARL32’, KC-135T 60-0339 ‘PEARL33’, and KC-135R 58-0093 ‘PEARL34’, arrived in Brisbane on Thursday night direct from Kadena AB.
Three tankers departed Brisbane on Saturday morning to refuel the B-52 on its way back from its display in New Zealand, leaving an operational spare behind on the International Terminal apron.
The KC-135s arrived back into Brisbane on Saturday afternoon before departing home on Sunday morning.