PORTLAND, Ore. - You can see a lot of odd stuff out on the open roads of Interstate 5, but a B-1 bomber rolling up the freeway is something a bit more out of the ordinary.
Drivers moving along Interstate 5 between Albany and Portland got an eyeful of the huge fuselage of the super-sonic bomber as it was being transported by heavy trucks in the early morning hours Friday.
But before its journey under the cover of darkness, the 135-foot long bomber was parked along I-5 near Albany during daylight hours, where it drew interest from many passing motorists who stopped to snap photos.
One man even turned around at the next exit near Milepost 240 to come back a get a better look with his son.
Early Friday morning, truckers guided the two-lane wide cargo up I-5 at about 45mph on its way to a hanger at PDX. In a few months, the decommissioned jet it will head back to a Boeing facility near Seattle for testing. The plane's journey originated in Arizona.
Current B-1 bombers, known as B1-B Lancers, have top speeds of about Mach 1.25 (about 900mph). Test versions of the plane can hit Mach 2.2 (about 1,600mph) depending on their configuration.
The graceful planes, which were ridiculed for cost overruns and initial performance shortfalls, went into service in the 1970s and are still used in military action today. They were designed as a replacement for the venerable B-52 bomber, but that aircraft also remains in service in large numbers.
B-1s are powered by four jet engines and were one of the first US aircraft to be developed with radar-evading stealth technology. They can also sweep their wings back for high-speed flight or move them forward for better lift on takeoff and landing.
They are capable of dropping conventional munitions, nuclear weapons and cruise missiles.