29 March 2014

I Love a Good Aviation Mystery

Some Aviation Buffs took some photos of what they thought were B-2's over Texas.

It appears that they weren't B-2's:
Sitting on a secret is a hard thing to do - and not only for me but the Pentagon as well.

But now the secret is out and the speculation is running rampant on the Internet, so it's time to tell the story behind Aviation Week & Space Technology's Bill Sweetman's story:


As aircraft bums are want to do in their spare time, on March 10th I found myself at Amarillo International Airport with my grandson and three other "Interceptors" enjoying a a nice spring-like afternoon photographing military jets doing practice approaches and sipping ice tea at our hangout the Old English Field House restaurant located at Rick Husband International Airport on the far east side of Amarillo.


I recognized the voice immediately whom (because of his government job) I will refer to as "Tom."

"What's up Tom?" I answer.

"Hey - Steve are you still out at the airport?" he asks.

"Yes - I was just about to head home." I replied.

"Look out to the southwest - there are three planes flying in formation - you can see their contrails."

I told the rest of the gang and we headed to the front of Old English to (as we say in Texas) take a gander.

They weren't hard to spot. The sky was severe-clear and the three contrails stood out like white chalked exclamation points across a deep blue sky.

The three aircraft were approaching from the southwest and they weren't in a hurry. They seemed to be heading right for the airport.

We readied the lenses on our cameras and hoped to get a clear shot of them coming overhead.

Since we are all aircraft spotters - we knew they most likely weren't commercial aircraft and had to be military, hoping maybe they were something cool like an F-22 or F-15s that we often see flying over the Amarillo VOR but have yet been able to coax down for some gas and grub.

Both Dean Muskett and myself were shooting with similar lenses - a 70 to 300mm zoom, I with my Nikon and he with his Canon.


Dean and I reviewed our photos on our cameras to try and identify the aircraft type.

"That's a B-2" Dean said excited. "It's a flight of three B-2s."

I looked at mine, zoomed in, but I wasn't so sure. Something about it looked odd. The shape wasn't quite right but on my tiny LCD frame in bright daylight I couldn't really see it well.

I rushed home and imported the photos into my computer. I then looked at the frames where the aircraft was flying in and out of the lead contrail and zoomed in using Photoshop.

My grandson (who was leaning over my shoulder watching me work) jumped when I shouted. "The trailing edge is wrong!" I must have said it three times.
It goes on, and he notes that the airspace around this formation was cleared for about 150 miles, and reviewing his aviation band scanner, came across a call sign, "SIENNA," which appeared to correspond with the flight.

His guess is that it is a stealth transport.

I'm dubious on that. I think that a stealth transport program would be too big, it would be a major competition between Boeing and LM, to be anywhere near black.

I do think that, whatever it is, that the USAF, whoever, scheduled this flight did so with the intention that Mr.Douglass, or some other aviation buff, to get those pics so to float out whatever it is.


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