MINOT AIR FORCE BASE - A Minot Air Force Base B-52 pilot and his father, who also flew B-52s, will be on "Fox & Friends Weekend" show Sunday.
1st Lt. Daniel Welch, a third-generation B-52 flight officer, and his father, retired Lt. Col. Don Welch, of Las Vegas, Nev., will appear on the show in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of the first flight of a B-52. That flight occurred on April 15, 1952.
Daniel's grandfather, retired Col. Don Sprague, of Sacramento, Calif., also flew the B-52.
1st Lt. Daniel Welch, center, of Minot Air Force Base who is a third-generation B-52 flight officer, is shown in this photo taken in 2008 with his grandfather, retired Col. Don Sprague, left, and his father, retired Lt. Col. Don Welch, right.
2nd Lt. Jose Davis, acting chief of Public Affairs at Minot AFB, said Daniel and his father will be interviewed by Fox on Sunday during the live show in New York. Daniel recently returned to the Minot base from a deployment to Guam.
Daniel is a member of the 23rd Bomb Squadron, a unit of the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB led by Col. Jim Dawkins Jr. The 23rd is the same squadron his grandfather, retired Col. Don Sprague, of Sacramento, Calif., commanded in the 1970s.
Last Aug. 19, Daniel was one of the speakers when Minot AFB held "Peace Persuader Day" to celebrate the arrival of the first B-52 bomber at the base 50 years earlier. Peace Persuader was the name of the first B-52 to arrive at the installation on July 16, 1961, but the 50th anniversary ceremony was postponed until August 2011 because of the flood in Minot.
B-52s first flight
The first flight of a B-52 Stratofortress (YB-52) was publicly announced for Tuesday, April 15, 1952.
The pilot was Alvin M. "Tex" Johnson, one of Boeing's top test pilots. The co-pilot was Lt. Col. Guy M. Townsend of the U.S. Air Force's flight test center. Both had extensive experience with Boeing's first jet bomber, the B-47.
The April 17, 1952, edition of "Boeing News" described the takeoff:
"This was it. The tremendous roar of the engines grew louder and louder as the plane gained speed. It raced down the runway with deceptive speed, past the other bombers that had made history taking off from here: the smaller B-47s, the B-50s, the B-29s and an old but proud B-17, nearly two decades of history-making bombers. The huge crowd that had gathered to watch the takeoff let out a spontaneous cheer."
Johnston and Townsend flew the plane over the Seattle area and then to Moses Lake, Wash., for 2 hours and 51 minutes, performing a series of tests, touching down at Larson Air Force Base, Wash., in the Moses Lake area.
At the time it was the longest and most successful first flight in Boeing history.
- Source: Boeing
In an interview with The Minot Daily News, Daniel said his grandfather flew every B-52 model from the A model up to the H model. Sprague flew combat missions in Vietnam and received the Distinguished Flying Cross. When he returned from Vietnam, he was assigned to Minot AFB in the early 1970s as the squadron commander of the 23rd Bomber Barons. He then went on to become wing commander at Mather AFB, Calif., where Daniel's mother, the daughter of the wing commander, and his father met.
After Daniel's parents married they went to Guam in the 1980s where "sitting nuclear alert" was part of his dad's B-52 crew life. Daniel was born in Guam. The senior Welch retired from the Air Force after 22 years.
Daniel started flying the B-52 in March 2010 at Barksdale AFB, La., and arrived at Minot AFB in January 2011.
"Growing up with my grandfather and father as role models made it pretty easy to decide that I wanted to pursue a career in aviation," Daniel said.
The "Fox & Friends Weekend" show begins at 5 a.m. on the Fox News Channel.