How U.S. Air Force B-2 Bomber pilots pull off 33-Hour long-duration Spirit mission

How U.S. Air Force B-2 Bomber pilots pull off 33-Hour long-duration Spirit mission

The Northrop B-2 Spirit is an American heavy strategic bomber, featuring low observable stealth technology designed for penetrating dense anti-aircraft defences

The B-2 is the only bomber in the U.S. inventory able to penetrate enemy territory to drop nuclear bombs, and still survive. Only 21 were produced, and all 20 operational jets are based at Whiteman AFB.

B-2 pilots not only experiencing the rush of takeoff and the pressure of weapons drops while flying But they also experience how to take nap while flying with your co-pilot during daylong-plus flights.

To prepare for the types of missions that would take them beyond an adversary’s border, B-2 crew training involves travelling from America’s heartland to the other side of the globe.

\Other USAF bomber, for example, a  B-52 is flown by a five-person crew — two pilots, two navigators and one electronic warfare officer. On the B-2, all tasks are shared between the two pilots, leaving less time for rest.

So how B-2 PILOTS manage to perform over long-endurance missions? Here is the answer


Air Force maintains a staff of doctors and physiologists that specialize in how protracted flying can impact the human body. These officials help new pilots learn techniques to improve their performance over long-endurance missions and update experienced pilots with new information about how to prevent fatigue.

“There is a way you can shift that circadian rhythm back and forth by getting the appropriate amount of sleep, shifting your sleep schedule and even modifying diet,” said Capt. Caleb James, a doctor with the 509th Medical Group.

For especially long missions, James said doctors will prescribe medication “in the event that those members need that little bit of extra push to help them stay focused on the mission.”

B-2 pilot spends “a lot of time” planning missions as well as learning how to balance obligations like takeoff, weapons activity and aerial refuelling with rest. When pilots faced with a 24-hour mission or a long-duration mission, B-2 pilot gets into the details of who is going to do what task, and how we’re going to manage our sleep

The timing of every task needs to be set in advance so that pilots are prepared to be in the seat, ready to go, for all the air-refuelling and the weapons activity, and then of course landing.”

Usually, pilots can work in naps, each numbering a couple of hours, but “it depends on our route of flight, where our refuellings are placed along that route, and where our weapons activity is

Apart from that, every pilot has their own common-sense methods to ensure they stay sharp on long-haul flights.

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