MINOT, N.D. — Two aircrew members of one of the first B-52H bombers to arrive at the Minot Air Force Base are returning decades later.
Brad Foote and Bill Sims are making plans to return to Minot for Northern Neighbors Day, the base’s open house and air show on Aug. 4, the Minot Daily News reported.
The pair made history in 1961 when they were aircrew members of one of the first two B-52s arriving at the new Minot base. Foote said their plane was the backup in case the first bomber couldn't get to the base or land.
"There were two aircrafts that day, one of which landed ahead of us — the 'Peace Persuader,'" he said of the first bomber, which carried North Dakota Gov. William Guy and Co. Harold Radetsky, a Minot bomb wing commander.
Before Minot, Foote and Sims were stationed at a base in upstate New York, where they were flying the G model of the B-52s.
"When we had the total complement we had at least a dozen or more planes," Sims said of the Minot base. "When we became combat-ready we probably had around 20-plus crews."
The Minot base was ranked in 1964 as one of the biggest military installations in the country with a military and civilian population of 18,500 who lived on or worked on the facility, according the newspaper at the time.
Foote and his family now live in Maryland, and Sims and his family live in California. The two men have kept in contact over the years and look forward to their return.
“That’s really where we started our military careers,” Sims said. “At Minot.”