Whiteman active-duty, Guard crew chiefs earn ride of a lifetime
By Staff Sgt. Joel Pfiester, 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 20, 2018
WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --
Whiteman’s 2018 Crew Chiefs of the Year had a chance to do something only 12 other enlisted Airmen have done: fly in a B-2 Spirit.
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Spenser Thrasher, a dedicated crew chief from the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and Missouri Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Travis Woolery, a dedicated crew chief from the 131st AMXS saw their hard work and dedication pay off while sitting in the cockpit of an airborne B-2. As part of being named Crew Chiefs of the Year, each recently received incentive flights in America’s premiere stealth bomber.
This is a privilege that only a few people ever get. In order for enlisted Airmen to be granted the opportunity, they must put in hours of hard work and extreme dedication – just like Thrasher and Woolery did. Both Airmen maintain the highest levels of readiness and efficiency to achieve excellence in all areas of aircraft maintenance, according to their respective leadership.
“Being recognized with the coveted title of Crew Chief of the Year is earned with hours of hard work, expertise and superior performance,” said Col. Mark A. Riselli, the 509th Maintenance Group commander. “Staff Sgt. Thrasher embodies all the makings of the title and we are delighted to get him a ride in the aircraft he works so hard to keep in the air.”
As counterparts, the 509th and 131st Bomb Wings work together on the same airframe, supporting the same mission.
"Tech. Sgt. Woolery is an exceptional Guardsman who certainly has put in the effort to be named Crew Chief of the Year," said Lt. Col. Michael Belardo, the 131st Maintenance Group commander. "His B-2 incentive flight is a privilege he has earned through his commitment and dedication to the mission and the people that he works with."
Before taking to the skies, Thrasher and Woolery had to go through various training and briefings, including survival, evasion, resistance and escape briefs; egress training; an abbreviated flight physical and more. Prior to take-off, each said he was a little nervous, but even more excited.
After landing, the Airmen were greeted by friends, family and Whiteman leadership on the runway. The flight was thrilling, Thrasher and Woolery agreed.
“That thing drives like a Cadillac. It was really smooth,” Woolery said of the nation’s only dual-capable bomber that has a maximum payload greater than 40,000 pounds.
It was an experience he’ll never forget, Thrasher added.
“It’s an incredible honor to be among those who have flown in the B-2,” Thrasher said. “To be one of only 14 enlisted Airmen to get a B-2 incentive flight is a huge deal. A very rewarding feeling for sure.”