The metal elements with the raked edges are the aircraft’s spoilers. When the spoilers on one wing are raised upwards during flight, they cause that wing to generate less lift, spurring the bomber to bank and turn toward that side. Rob Verger
This is the view of the BUFF from the back. The main landing gear is arranged in a bicycle-like front-to-back configuration, but each wingtip also has an outrigger-style wheel that folds up during flight. Rob Verger
Espino stands on a ladder as he and the rest of the crew inspect the jet before flight. Rob Verger
A hatch in the plane’s belly, with built-in stairs, is the route on or off the aircraft. Rob Verger
In the cockpit, this bank of 32 dials tell the pilots the status of the engines. Each column of four gauges corresponds to one of the aircraft’s eight engines. The big lever to the bottom right is for raising and lowering the landing gear. Rob Verger
These elements control the plane’s thrust—there’s one lever for each TF-33 engine. “It’s a fairly user-intensive airplane to fly; it takes a good bit of physical strength,” says Mark Church, who flew B-52s from 1990 to 2012. Rob Verger
Rebecca “Ripper” Ronkainen, left, and Jacob Tejada, right, sit in the aircraft’s offense compartment on a lower deck before the flight. They both sit on ejection seats that would blast downwards in an emergency. Rob Verger
Right behind where Ronkainen and Tejada sit is a urinal in the corner, the place to pee during the flight if needed. Rob Verger
A B-52 sits in a hanger at Barksdale Air Force Base. The dummy munitions in a rotary under the wing are practice ALCMs—air-launched cruise missiles—used for weapons load training. The BUFF can carry ALCMs under each wing and more in its bomb bay. Rob Verger
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