A Date with Mr. REAPER and DEATH – Day 5

Oddly enough, the one shot that was escaping me all week was a simple B-2 taking off. Public Affairs had done an outstanding job lining up so many cool and interesting tours and interviews, that it was hard to align the take off and departure times of the B-2 to the gaps in my schedule. And for some reason, Ops didn’t alter the take offs to my schedule. 🙂 But since PA knew it was an important shot to me, they went above and beyond and came in on Saturday to help me nail it.

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Two B-2 Stealth Bombers took off simultaneously. One of these magnificent birds was destined to fly the over 3,500 miles round trip to the McChord AFB, Washington Airshow.

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Throughout the year, up to twice a month, B-2’s fly all over the United States to give the American public a chance to see first hand the worlds most advance bomber.

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While some people may believe that the B-2 just flies to an airshow, does a few circles in the sky, and flies back home to Whiteman AFB, that is the furthest from the truth. Airshows are just another stop on a very well planned out mission for the mighty airplane. On certain days, the B-2 can fly over multiple airshows in one trip.

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Very similar to a tactical mission, every flyby incorporates similar planning characteristics. The aircraft may practice dropping bombs at the range, conduct air to air refueling, and practice showing up to a target (the airshow or game flyby) at a certain time and fly low level.

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This past week, a B-2 took off from Whiteman AFB and flew towards Yankee Stadium in New York to do a fly over for the MLB All Star Game. The crew had to make sure it flew right over the stadium at the end of the national anthem. With a spotter on the field giving exact information to the Bomber, the pilots were able to be at the right place at the right time; much like executing a strike on a foreign target.

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So while it may dazzle hundreds of thousands of Americans on any given weekend as it flies over an airshow or sporting event, it is just another way point on a precisely planned training mission.

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After the take offs, I had just over an hour to kill before having to drive to Kansas City International Airport and fly back home. So I took the time to snap a few pictures of the amazing static aircraft on display showcasing the history and lineage of the various units at Whiteman AFB.

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B-52 Stratofortress

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B-47B Stratojet

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KC-97 Stratotanker

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A-10 Thunderbolt II

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Uh-1 Huey

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Minuteman II Missile

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T-38 Talon

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F-111 Ardvark

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B-29 Superfortress. This Superfortress on static display at the Spirit Gate represents “The Great Artiste” of World War II fame. The original plane carrying the name was used as an observation aircraft for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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The mighty B-2 Stealth Bomber surrounded by 21 flags representing the 19 states and 2 for the Spirit of America and Spirit of Kitty Hawk.

This was such a wonderful week. I had a chance to do something truly amazing, and even more important, get a chance to meet the men and women of Whiteman AFB. I got to see the most technologically advanced bomber in the world, fly in the back seat of a T-38, but the best part was to be able to tell the stories of the hard work and passion that Team Whiteman has for it’s famed bomber. To quote Col. John Robinson, Vice Commander of the 509th Bomb Wing, “Whiteman’s greatest weapon system does not come with a serial number or a tail number, it comes with a social security number.”

8 Replies to “A Date with Mr. REAPER and DEATH – Day 5”

  1. Sure can feel you enthusiasm & thrill in this experience.
    Thanks for letting us live vicariously through this.
    Now back to reality and just shooting pictures of normal aircraft 🙂

    BTW, Santa Rosa air show is in about a month!

    Dan

  2. As usual nice work. Great insight into what it takes in the background to do what look to us like a simple flyover. You are a true professional.

  3. Enjoyed visiting with you while we figured out what equipment you would bring and where it would go for your flight. Great job describing the whole team effort it takes here at Whiteman to accomplish the mission. The pictures are awesome. Looking forward to future blogs.

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