WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. —
The B-2 Spirit’s group of highly skilled pilots are part of an exclusive community, which is evidenced by how the Air Force lists these impressive men and women in the history books.
Every B-2 pilot undergoes initial qualification training at Whiteman Air Force Base to learn to fly the world’s most technologically advanced strategic bomber. After IQT students have completed hundreds of hours of instruction and training in the B-2 simulators, they are finally able to put their skills to the test and take off for their first flight. After their first flight, each pilot receives a Spirit Number, which cements their place in history.
Former B-2 and Spirit Number 78 pilot Frank Cavuoti explains that a Spirit Number is a sequential number that is only assigned to someone who has flown in the B-2 Spirit. This tradition of using a numbering system was preceded by the first stealth aircraft, the F-117 Nighthawk, which used the Bandit number.
“Each program realized there would be a very limited number of pilots assigned and felt the need to catalog that history and legacy,” said Cavuoti, now Detachment 5, 29 Training Systems Squadron, B-2 Senior Program Analyst. “These are unique numbers, like a thumbprint that are unique and will only be assigned once and will never be used again.”
After 33 years, only 550 B-2 pilots have received a Spirit Number. The tradition began on July 17, 1989, when two B-2 test pilots, Bruce Hinds, Spirit Number 1, and Colonel Rick Couch, Spirit Number 2, flew the first B-2 flight from Factory 42 to Palmdale, California at Edwards. Air Force Base.
However, Spirit Numbers are not only awarded to pilots. Others who have the rare opportunity to fly in the B-2 Spirit also receive their own number. This issue catalog features an impressive list, including cabinet-level secretaries, senior military leaders, members of Congress, as well as award-winning enlisted servicemen.
Technology. sergeant. Elizabeth Lambert, crew chief of the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, received an incentive flight in B-2 Spirit and Spirit Number 760 after receiving the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Thomas N. Barnes Award and the 509th Bomb Wing Crew Chief of the Year.
“It’s an honor to be one of the few people, still under 800, to receive a Spirit Number,” Tech said. sergeant. Lambert. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I love being able to be a part of history. Being the first female enlisted crew chief to fly in the B-2 was amazing.
Throughout history, there have been many unique ways for pilots to distinguish themselves, from unit patches to call signs; however, the Spirit Number brings a whole new level of connection to something bigger.
“For a B-2 pilot, the Spirit Number represents a shared sense of connection to a very special program and signifies the spirit, pride, tradition, heritage and esprit de corps shared by the very few others B-2 Spirit pilots,” Cavuoti said. “They all know the awesome responsibility and privilege of piloting a national asset of indescribable power and being ready anytime, anywhere. They all know they are not just pilots piloting the B -2… but that they are B-2 pilots.