Palmdale ups bid to bring B-52
The City Council unanimously passed the project’s new budget Wednesday night. “A B-52 is going to be a gem, I think,” said Councilman Steve Knight. Knight noted that a B-52 was used as the launch aircraft for the X-15 rocket-plane program at Edwards Air Force Base. Knight’s father, the late state Sen. W.J. “Pete” Knight, was a test pilot who gained fame in large part due to his exploits on that program. The original contractor, Airstone Enterprises, an Arizona company, asked to be released from its contract with the city, stating it was at risk of bankruptcy because the project was proving much more difficult than anticipated. Problems included bad weather and issues with corrosion on the aircraft, city officials said. The city authorized one of Airstone’s subcontractors, Aircraft Restoration and Marketing LLC of Tucson, to complete the disassembly work. PALMDALE – Palmdale will push forward with a project to bring a decommissioned B-52 bomber from Oklahoma to the city’s airpark, even though the effort is facing a rising price tag. Citing the benefits of enhancing the Joe Davies Heritage Airpark at Air Force Plant 42 and a desire to maintain good relations with the Air Force, the City Council approved a $472,000 budget for acquiring and displaying the airplane. The original budget was $248,000, but the contractor asked to be released from its contract with the city, citing unanticipated difficulties in disassembling the aircraft. Earlier this week, city officials thought the overall budget would be $573,000, but the estimate was lowered after they received bids from companies for transporting the bomber, now at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City. “This airplane, once brought here, will put the airpark on the map,” said Mayor Jim Ledford. Both Oklahoma City and the Air Force had set a June 1 deadline for removing the aircraft, but city officials said they are negotiating to get a few more days for the project. The airpark, at Rancho Vista Boulevard and 25th Street East, is intended to recognize Air Force Plant 42’s contributions to national defense and to aerospace history. Initially a U.S. Army Air Corps base in the 1940s, and briefly a Los Angeles County airport, Plant 42 has been an aircraft production and flight-test installation since 1950. While the B-52 bombers were not built in the Antelope Valley, the airplanes have operated out of nearby Edwards Air Force Base for nearly 50 years and have used Plant 42 for practice landings and takeoffs. Some aircraft and spacecraft built or modified at Plant 42 include the F-86 Sabre, the top Air Force fighter during the Korean War; the F-94C; the F-100 Super Sabre; the F-104; the F-117A stealth fighter; the U-2 and SR-71 spy planes; and the B-1B and B-2 bombers. Aircraft now at the airpark include an F-104, an F-4 Phantom, an F-86, a T-38 trainer, an A-7, an A-4, an F-100D and an F-105 Thunderchief. The park also includes a one-eighth scale model of a B-2 bomber provided by Northrop Grumman, the bomber’s prime contractor. In September, the council agreed to acquire a L-1011 jetliner. Approximately 250 L-1011s were built and tested at Plant 42 from 1968 to 1985, and it is estimated that about 10,000 people worked on the program. james.skeen@dailynews (661) 267-5743160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You're all set!