Military aircraft are a common sight in the skies over Colorado, especially fighter planes. (Alleged UFO sightings are also common, but let’s not get into that, please.) The United States Air Force maintains a strong presence here; no surprise considering we’ve got NORAD and gobs of other important sites. But I was pleasantly surprised the other day to catch a glimpse of my favorite aircraft of all time: the B-2 Spirit.
Commonly known as “the stealth bomber” (in fact, our other stealth aircraft, the F-117 Nighthawk, is often called “the stealth fighter” when it’s actually just a smaller bomber), the B-2 Spirit has some of the coolest design features of all time. For one thing, it has no rudder. No vertical surfaces at all. Maneuvering is accomplished through aileron-like surfaces along the W-shaped trailing edge of the wing, facilitated by a network of linked computers and sensors. Add to that the fact that the inner structure is mostly carbon fiber, and you see why it’s nicknamed the Flying Pencil. Edge-on, it virtually disappears from your vision. (Check out the neat-o B-2 video here.)
When I was researching advanced aircraft technologies for a science fiction novel last year, I started reading books about the B-2 Spirit and I fell in love with it. This aircraft is so cool, in so many ways, that I now collect photos and diagrams of it just for fun. (I also have a model B-2 perched on my desk.) Seeing one in flight, casually looping and banking through the clouds and blue sky over my home, was just breathtaking.
Check out that photo and tell me it doesn’t look like the beginning of an alien invasion from space! Right? Luckily, the latest UFO sighting in Colorado was nothing more than a beautiful B-2 (this one in particular is named Spirit of Texas).
By the way, I did not take these photos myself (since I was too awestruck to run and get a camera). I shamelessly downloaded them from 9News.com. You can see the original article here: