One of the B-52 bombers housed at the Minot Air Force Base in 2005. (Beth Eide/The Associated Press)
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RAPID CITY, S.D. Airman from Minot Air Force Base who fly and work on B-52 bombers say they've learned a lot from their counterparts at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota who fly B-1 bombers, during a summer of cooperation.
Eight B-52s and about 300 airmen from Minot have called Ellsworth home for about five months while a $67 million runway upgrade is completed at the North Dakota base. The project that has spanned three years is expected to wrap up by the end of September.
Minot bombers and crews routinely deploy to Guam to keep a bomber presence in the South Pacific, and some of the base's planes were sent there when the runway was shut down on April 1 for the final part of the upgrade project. Ellsworth was chosen as a temporary site for the others because the southwestern South Dakota base is close and has a suitable runway.
There are other similarities, 23rd Bomb Squadron Capt. Joe Manglitz told KOTA-TV.
"We have a lot of the same capabilities in terms of weapons and the ability to fly long distances," he said, adding that the crews on the two types of bombers worked the past few months to "coordinate those efforts and learn from each other and how we do things, and ultimately getting better at our jobs."
The Minot airmen also have enjoyed spending leisure time in the Black Hills of western South Dakota.
"At the same time we are excited to go home and start back flying at Minot," Manglitz said.