'BUFF' Braves Sub-Zero Temps To Evaluate Alternative Fuel
So, if you need to run
tests here in the lower 48 on how something performs in cold
weather, where's the best place to go? Speaking strictly from
experience, I can think of no colder location than Minot AFB, ND...
Apparently the US Air Force agrees, because that's where it's
testing the performance for new a synthetic fuel that just might
answer the service's rapacious need for jet go juice.
A B-52 Stratofortess powered by a mix of synthetic fuel arrived
at Minot on January 17 (brrrrrrr) for cold-weather testing. This is
the last step in the testing and certification process to help
reduce Air Force dependence on imported fuel.
The aircraft, permanently assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing at
Minot, will undergo ground testing January 22 through the beginning
of February to determine how well the synthetic fuel, made from a
50-50 blend of traditional crude oil-based fuel and a
Fischer-Tropsch fuel derived from natural gas, performs in extreme
"The B-52 is leading the way in carrying out the Air Force's
vision for conservation," said Colonel Eldon Woodie, the 5th Bomb
Wing commander. "Hopefully, the weather will allow us to complete
In an aviation first, the USAF first burned the
Fischer-Tropsch fuel inflight using a BUFF (for Big Ugly Flying
Fellow) at Edwards AFB in September. Since then, the aircraft has
been tested extensively -- up to the point of flying with synthetic
fuel in all eight engines. Crews at Minot will use the synthetic
fuel in all engines for ground testing.
After testing is complete at Minot, USAF researchers will
analyze the cold-weather data along with the data from Edwards AFB.
The air service says a complete test report is due for release in
"The maintenance and aircraft support here at Minot have been
outstanding," said Robert Aguilar, the project manager for
cold-weather testing, who's here from California.
Enjoy the weather Mr. Aguilar!