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First B-2 surpasses 7,000 flight hours

U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit crew chiefs stand at parade rest while performing post flight inspections with pilots in the cockpit of the “Spirit of Florida” at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 1, 2013. The pilots just completed a historic training mission in which it became the first B-2 to reach 7,000 flight hours.   (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nick Wilson/Released)

U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit crew chiefs stand at parade rest while performing post flight inspections with pilots in the cockpit of the “Spirit of Florida” at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 1, 2013. The pilots just completed a historic training mission in which it became the first B-2 to reach 7,000 flight hours. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nick Wilson/Released)

U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit crew chiefs stand ready to perform maintenance on the “Spirit of Florida” after completing a historic training mission in which it became the first B-2 to reach 7,000 flight hours, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 1, 2013. Major Benjamin Kaminsky flew this historic mission, and crew chief Airman 1st Class Elijah Noel landed the aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry/Released)

U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit crew chiefs stand ready to perform maintenance on the “Spirit of Florida” after completing a historic training mission in which it became the first B-2 to reach 7,000 flight hours, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 1, 2013. Major Benjamin Kaminsky flew this historic mission, and crew chief Airman 1st Class Elijah Noel landed the aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry/Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo -- Since the B-2 "Spirit of Florida" first arrived at Whiteman Air Force Base in July 1996, its stealthiness and massive firepower have been used in missions around the world.

During its latest mission April 1, the aircraft and its crew celebrated a monumental milestone as it became the first B-2 Spirit to surpass 7,000 flight hours.

"This achievement is a testament to the men and women of both the 131st and 509th Bomb Wings who take a vested interest in the B-2 mission every day," said Lt. Col. Michael Pyburn, 131st Operations Group commander, 131st Bomb Wing, Missouri Air National Guard. "Milestones like this cannot be accomplished without the dedication they consistently provide around the clock."

With a fuel capacity of 167,000 pounds and 40,000-pound payload, the multi-role heavy bomber has a virtually limitless reach. It is the only aircraft to combine range, precision, stealth and a large payload.

As one of only 20 B-2 stealth bombers in the world, the conventional- and nuclear-capable Spirit of Florida maintains constant readiness to defend America's interests anytime, anywhere.

From the crew chiefs and maintainers who ready the aircraft for takeoff to the pilots who control the Spirit of Florida, reaching the 7,000-hour mark has been an immense effort.
"We take a lot of pride in keeping our B-2s air-worthy," said Staff Sgt. Kent Sedgwick, the 13th Aircraft Maintenance Unit dedicated crew chief assigned to the Spirit of Florida. "It feels great to work on something that has such a powerful presence.

"The 'health' of our aircraft shows just how much time and effort our crew chiefs and maintainers put into making sure everything is taken care of so our jets can take off at any moment."

Sedgwick added that the Spirit of Florida was also the first to reach the 5,000-hour mark, which it did in May 2007, and the first to reach the 6,000-hour mark, which it did in January 2010.

During this flight, the B-2 was flown by Maj. Benjamin Kaminsky and was landed by crew chief Airman 1st Class Elijah Noel.