About me

How did I get in the cockpit of a B-1B bomber at RAF Fairford?

What a thrilling day I had yesterday (Thursday 14th October 2021). I was honoured to be invited to RAF Fairford to meet the 9th EBS (Expeditionary Bomb Squadron) and help towards furthering Anglo-American relations.

We started off with a bus ride across the airfield to the Air Traffic Control Tower and climbed the 50+ steep steps to the tower and also out on to the viewing balcony. With only a wait of about 5 minutes, the incredible B-1 Lancer Bomber flew into view, did a quick touch-down in front of us and then flew straight off for a slow circuit around the Tower and off again into the distance. Next up, the B-1 (or BONE as it is known) came back into view, landed faultlessly in front of us and then taxied down the runway to park up.

B-1B named Christine after me – not really! Taken by me in September 2019

Another bus ride to the Operations building where we had a ‘Capabilities Brief’, info from various air crew members and personnel and a weather briefing complete with a video of the history of the B-1A and the B-1B Lancer.

A bit of free time followed with coffee and an opportunity to buy some related merchandise.

Then back to the bus to go to the static aircraft area, where three other B-1s were parked up and we had an opportunity to watch the first B-1 take off again before our very eyes!

When it landed, it taxied round to the static area to meet us and we were able to see inside the bomb holding and also the underside ‘workings’ of the beautiful beast.

B1-B taken by me in March 2006

Next was the hard part – climbing up the ladder into the cockpit! I had done this once before when I was five years younger and more agile. Steps terrify me at the best of times, but this steep entry into the very tight cockpit is something else. I clung to the sides making sure I didn’t touch anything black and yellow! We had been warned beforehand not to do this or we would certainly die! A bit of an overstatement, I think, but I wasn’t prepared to take the risk! Once at the top, I found myself on my knees at the entrance to the cockpit. My legs were too shaky to stand up, so I found a niche to the side of the cockpit where I could sit and rest and gather my courage for the trip back down.

The female pilot was very informative about the flight deck and what it was like to be confined in these cramped and claustrophobic conditions for hours at a time. All I can say about the technical side of things is: the cockpit had lots of lights, buttons, levers and switches – that’s the girlie perspective! Sorry not to be more informative. I was surprised to notice that the windscreen is very small and the visibility is quite constrained.

Then the dreaded backwards climb down the ladder! To be fair, it was not as bad as I had thought and I got back to terra firma completely unscathed and just in time for the official joint photograph. The photo below taken by Paul Williams of H18 PDW Photography has captured me struggling back down the steps!

Captured on film! Struggling down the steps.

Then we all jumped on the bus back to the base Community Centre where a much-needed bbq was awaiting us together with soft drinks, snacks and doughnuts!

What an experience! I am glad I went along and experienced everything. Although I had done it once before, I probably will never do it again.

Thank you so much to Lt Col Stover, Sqn Ldr Robertson, the aircrew and maintenance men.

Official group photo. I’m the one in the pink (of life) in the front row.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *