Planes, Rockets, Choppers

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Yesterday Christian, Alex and I had the opportunity to tour Whiteman Air Force Base, home of the B2 Stealth bomber. It was a much more in-depth tour than most people get, because our family group was so small. I’ll try to keep my wordiness to a minimum so you can just enjoy pictures:

I was surprised they let us take pictures at all, but here you go. It's hard to give you a sense of scale; the thing is simply *so*huge*. In a hangar wide enough to house 7-8 of our house, this was the only aircraft there was room for. In a wholly unscientific measurement, Alex and I walked from wingtip to nose in 45 steps.

There were 22 Stealth bombers made, and 21 still flying (one had electrical trouble & crashed in Guam). There were supposed to be 100 of them, but the Cold War ended and philosphies changed. Each of the aircraft is named after a state that supported the process. This one is Spirit of Louisiana, AKA "The Grim Reaper." The edges of the payload doors and the landing gear bays are super-sharp in order to facilitate a smooth surface that won't show up on radar.

We couldn't take the cameras past the red line on the floor, so here's our proof of having climbed up in the cockpit.

Here we are, for a sense of scale. The interesting thing about this plane is that up close, it doesn't look real. By that I mean that its paint job looks like cartoon strips and duct tape, and the sensors (above our heads in the picture) look like a kids' toy set--you know how they paint the burners on toy stoves? Really quite surreal.

 Whiteman also housed a nuclear command center during the Cold War, which controlled Minuteman missile silos dotted all over west, central, and southwest Missouri.

Inside the nuclear command capsule, now decommissioned and kept as a museum. BTW, to get here, we took a freight elevator down through 40 feet of solid concrete reinforced with rebar the diameter of my arm.

Launch Switches

And we ended the tour with a gander at the Apache helicopters...machine gun, rocket launchers and all.

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5 thoughts on “Planes, Rockets, Choppers

  1. Jenny Keely

    Wow! Who pulled the strings to get you in there? 😉 A friend of mine from the Lackland AF band ended up marrying an officer who became a Stealth pilot and, eventually, an instructor so she had all kinds of stories to tell. They’re halfway around the world now. Anyway, after looking at your pictures, I feel compelled to say, “HOO-RAH, AIR FORCE!” (We had to shout that after completing each obstacle on the “Confidence Course” in basic training.) =)
    So…does Alex want to become a fighter pilot now? Does Christian???? (It’s hard to beat the sight of a man in a flight suit!)

  2. Hehehe…This is a perk of having a mom in politics; she arranged the tour for the family, and we are all well aware that it’s an experience we will probably never have again, since she’s term limited out now.

    Alex wants to be an astronaut, so fighter pilot seems like a logical step on the path, n’est-ce pas? 🙂

  3. I have a friend who saw a stealth at Wright-Patt, and she said the same thing – it doesn’t look real the way they’re painted. I’d love to see one up close.

  4. Wow, My husband really likes looking around bases like that because he did a lot when he was a kid. Also, when he was a kid he had a toy set of planes and rockets. Thanks for sharing

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