B-52 navigator

BOSSIER CITY, La. -- The B-52 aircraft is known for its loud roar and booms. Many think, the pilots are in charge of dropping bombs. But in reality, they just fly the plane.

"We are the ones who drop the bombs, and the pilots help us do it," said Captain Riff, a navigator with the 96th Bomb Squadron. It's the navigators who make all the noise.

The B-52 is one of the oldest aircraft in the Air Force's inventory. The plane was built in the 1950s before GPS was invented. That's why the plane has two specific seats for aircrew to do this job.

"The pilots play an important role. They are the ones who drive us to our destination. We tell them where to go, how fast to go and what route to take. Their job is to put us inside parameters to be able to safely employ our weapons," said Riff.

The B-52 has two decks. The top deck is for the pilot and co-pilot. Also, facing backwards is the electronic warfare officer, they basically defend the plane from any threats.

On the lower deck, you'll find the offense compartment. This is where the navigators work.

The right seat is for the navigator. They're in charge of navigation and ensuring the bombs arrive on time.

"You can think of him as human GPS. He is the one who tells the pilot to speed up, slow down, turn left or turn right," Riff said.

The left seat is for the radar navigators. They are the ones who drop the bombs.

"The person on the left seat, where i'm sitting right now is called the radar navigator position. That person is in charge of employing any weapons, anything to do with dropping bombs and employing weapons and doing it within parameters to be safe," he said.

When it comes to dropping the bombs, it's basically like playing a video game, Riff said.

But this job has a downside -- getting queasy.

"You really don't have a window, so you tend to get airsick until you get used to the movement," Riff said.

Some remedies are ginger, oranges and mint. But the best cure is the pride of flying in the B-52 bomber.

"It is a plane meant to be a weapons systems officer's dream," Riff said. 


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