Today’s a Huge Day For The B-2 Bomber, and In Turn, West Central Missouri
I don't know about you, but every time someone remarks that they see a B-2 Bomber flying overhead... I have to look. Even if we've seen them all a hundred times, even if we look at every picture, even if we've visited when it's on display... it never does quite get old to look at, does it?
Well, today's a big day in history for the B-2. Today was it's official unveiling in 1988! It had a big event for it. The “stealth” bomber was shown publicly for the first time at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California. At the time it was a bit controversial because it was so expensive ($40 billion in development and a $1 billion cost for each unit). About a year after it was unveiled it had it's first successful fly - where it kept out of sight of infrared, sound detectors, and the visible eye. The first operational aircraft, The Spirit of Missouri, was delivered to Whiteman in December of 1993. Now it didn't see actual operational use until 1999 (Kosovo - thanks, Wikipedia!).
And after the Soviet Union was no more, plans to make about a hundred B-2's were scrapped. So the ones that are around now are actually about the same twenty or so that have been around since the mid-nineties. So the one you see in the sky - might have been the same one you saw last year after all. Turns out you might have actually seen these same ones in movies, too. The B-2 has been in “Independence Day,” “Armageddon,” “Iron Man 2,” “Cloverfield,” “Airplanes,” “Rampage” and, “Captain Marvel.” Although I'm sure there are others and will be others, too.
I totally get it, it's impressive. It's iconic in its look, but it's also a big deal. Like, a football field big deal. The B-2 is 69 feet long, 17 feet high and has a wingspan of 172 feet, half the length of a football field. It can reach a high subsonic speed and can also reach an altitude of more 50,000 feet. This thing can travel 6,000 nautical miles without refueling and 10,000 nautical miles with only one refueling. It can reach any point in the world within hours and carry 20 tons while they're doing it. I found those last fun facts here. I mean, you didn't think I really remembered all that, did you?
But I do remember how impressive it is to see the B-2 every time! And 34 years ago today, started the big journey to Whiteman and West Central Missouri!