B-52s On Alert Across America for Many Years
B-52 Pilot Denis Sam Dehne’s Patriotic
Efforts Save Nation Untold Billions of Dollars.
Circa 1966. Within Strategic Air Command (SAC), eight B-52 aircraft and aircrews were
placed in an increased state of readiness (On Alert) at many bases so
that they could be airborne in a specified short period of time after a launch order was received. (Thankfully all of the ubiquitous 100s of launch
orders throughout the dozens of SAC bases during the many years turned out to be for practice)
Unfortunately, after completion of a typical practice alert with eight B-52s
having raced to the runway, it would take an average of 2 hours to get all
the aircraft parked back in the original alert position.
During this time there was no official Checklist or Flight Manual procedure to shut down some of the (unneeded) engines during the long wait on the taxiway.
Thus the eight B-52s sat with all 8 engines idling for this long period of time. With an obvious horrendous waste of fuel and unneeded wear on the engines.
B-52 pilot Sam Dehne
single-handedly took it upon himself to re-write the appropriate section of the
Flight Manual and go through the lengthy and
sometimes difficult administrative actions required to change the Manual with Official numbered steps that would allow crews to shut down 4 of the
B-52 engines during the long wait on the taxiways.
Thanks to Dehne’s tenacious deliberations with the Strategic Air Command
bureaucracies.. that were not initially receptive of his suggestions.. in 1967
the B-52 Checklist was changed to adopt Dehne’s cost-saving Directive.
In the B-52 it became in essence mandatory according to the B-52 Checklist, which stipulated:
1. After clearing of runway during practice alert, the outboard engines will be shut down during re-parking to Alert position.
1a. This action will be taken unless other circumstances preclude such action.
This Checklist procedure that Dehne had established
gradually morphed into crews on all types of military aircraft.. and even
in civilian aviation industry.. routinely shutting down outboard engines during tax-back from regular missions and flights.
Kudos and Recognition..
and Savings to the Nation:
Because of Dehne’s patriotic and diligent actions the Air Force and the
Nation have save untold $$billions of dollars.
(Undoubtedly more than a few pilots could be heard muttering, "I could have thought of that.", but only Dehne had the gumption and patience
to take the necessary action to make the procedure an Official part of crews' taxi-back routine.)
There were hundreds of B-52s on Alert, with an average of a practice Alert
every month at each of myriad Air Force bases.. with those B-52s
going through these Military Procedures for over a decade.. vis a vis cost of fuel, wear and tear, and even eventual inculcation of the Procedure
into many other areas of aviation, etc, etc.
To declare that the savings have been no less than $2 Billion dollars is well within the realm of probability.
For his efforts Dehne, under the auspices of "Air Force Big-R Cost Reduction Program", received a Certificate of Appreciation and check for $500.