Col. Tom Bussiere and Maj. Rich Collins take off in a B-2 Spirit named the Spirit of Florida April 15 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. The flight was the first since a B-2 crashed Feb. 23 at Andersen AFB, Guam. Colonel Bussiere is the 509th Operations Group commander, and Major Collins is the 394th Combat Training Squadron operations officer. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Charles Larkin Sr.)
Col. Tom Bussiere reviews aircraft forms with maintainers prior to flying a B-2 Spirit named the Spirit of Florida April 15 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. The flight was the first since a B-2 crashed Feb. 23 at Andersen AFB, Guam. Colonel Bussiere is the 509th Operations Group commander. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Allen Clark)
by Airman 1st Class Stephen Linch
509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
4/21/2008 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. (AFPN) -- A B-2 Spirit made a successful return to flight April 15 here after a 53-day safety pause for the aircraft following the first-ever crash of a stealth bomber Feb. 23 in Guam.
While an accident investigation board is still ongoing, Air Force and Air Combat Command maintenance and safety experts gave 509th Bomb Wing officials the green light to fly.
Col. Tom Bussiere, the 509th Operations Group commander, and Maj. Rich Collins, the 394th Combat Training Squadron operations officer, took a B-2 into the Missouri sky April 15 in the first flight since a B-2 crashed on takeoff Feb. 23 at Andersen AFB, Guam.
"We definitely wanted our return to flying to be deliberate and safe," said Brig. Gen. Gary Harencak, the 509th Bomb Wing commander.
B-2s have been flying almost 20 years and are renowned in the Air Force for their unprecedented safety record, General Harencak said.
"In the history of aviation, there's never been an aircraft with a safety record like the B-2," he said. "These bombers combined have a logged more than 14,000 sorties, 100 combat sorties and 75,000 flying hours without a single Class A mishap until now."
A Class A mishap is when there is loss of life or damage in excess of $1 million. But General Harencak said only one flight Class A mishap in 20 years beats the odds of almost any aircraft.
The B-2 that crashed, named the Spirit of Kansas, had logged more than 5,000 flight hours and 1,036 sorties before Feb. 23, and it was "renowned in the maintenance community for being a great jet," said Col. Bob Dulong, the 509th Maintenance Group commander.
"The B-2 is airpower at its purest, most elegant and deadliest form," the general said. "(It is) an aircraft that cannot be denied access with its range, payload and stealthiness. It has everything that is required to hold at risk any of America's enemies anywhere, anytime, and we can do it from here."