A $67 million runway construction project at Minot Air Force base in North Dakota means Ellsworth Air Force base is the temporary home to eight B-52 bombers and around 300 airmen.
They have been here since March and with their construction nearing completion the maintenance and air crews talk about their stay at Ellsworth Air Force base.
Airman First Class Eriberto Gonzalez-Gomez says their short time here in South Dakota has proved very beneficial. "We are practicing really well with the DCC program to try to work our jets so we are basically know what's wrong and what's right," Gonzalez-Gomez said.
Senior Airman Kelly Dabney says they can work on specific jets because there are less B-52's at Ellsworth than at Minot. "At Minot we have a lot of jets so we pretty much bounce around to different air crafts," Dabney said.
But there has been some adjustments to accommodate these massive bombers. Some concerns were if the concrete would be able to support the 185,000 pound jet and new fixtures that are in the way of the 185 feet long wings.
Capt. Joe Manglitz, 23rd Bomb Squadron, says there's a huge benefit the Minot airmen are getting is flying with the B-1's. "That was a great opportunity, probably one of the best opportunities we've had here is integrating with the B-1," Manglitz said. "We have a lot of the same capabilities in terms of weapons and the ability to fly long distances so trying to coordinate those efforts and learn from each other and how we do things and ultimately getting better at our jobs."
And even though its been smooth flying for the Minot airmen and maintenance crews, their time here is coming to an end. "This has been a great opportunity to go through that mission training aspects but at the same time we are excited to go home and start back flying at Minot," Manglitz said.
The Minot airmen and their B-52's is expected to be leaving Ellsworth next month upon completion of their runway. Ellsworth also had some construction going on this summer on their flight line.
The crew members said that not only working at Ellsworth was good but they enjoyed their time outside of work venturing around the Black Hills.