The YB-52, the second XB-52 modified with additional operational equipment, first flew on 15 April 1952 with "Tex" Johnston as pilot. A two-hour, 21-minute proving flight from Boeing Field, King County, near Seattle, Washington to Larson AFB was undertaken with Boeing test pilot Alvin M. Johnston and Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Guy M. Townsend. The XB-52 followed on 2 October 1952. The thorough development, including 670 days in the wind tunnel and 130 days of aerodynamic and aeroelastic testing, paid off with smooth flight testing. Encouraged, the Air Force increased an initial order to 282 Boeing B-52s.
After countless years of service, and after earning the nickname of BUFF (Big Ugly Fat Fellow) there were concerns about the lifespan of the fleet. Several projects beyond the B-52, the Convair B-58 Hustler and North American XB-70 Valkyrie, had either been aborted or proved disappointing in light of changing requirements, which left the older B-52 as the main bomber as opposed to the planned successive aircraft models. On 19 February 1965, General Curtis E. LeMay testified to Congress that the lack of a followup bomber project to the B-52 raised the danger that, "The B-52 is going to fall apart on us before we can get a replacement for it."
All these years later, the B-52 is alive and very well, and will remain in service long after the B-2 and B-1 bombers have retired to the boneyards, once again proving to be ageless in her reign, the Buff is still smoking its 8 engines, and flexing her massive wings around the world!