Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Flying triangles and B-2s over Amarillo. What's the USAF up to?

Ever since the images of three mystery aircraft that Dean Muskett and myself photographed near Amarillo were published, I have been deluged with requests for more information and images from the press and the general public.

The comments on various websites and forums have been interesting a well, ranging from the ridiculous, "It's the mother ship from Zeta II Reticuli) to the scoffers "Steve Douglass is a fraud and a phony) and to the educated, "I know aircraft and these are not B-2s." 

With the admission that Whiteman AFB had no B-2s flying that day and also (since the original article was published) that the Edwards B-2 test bird was also not flying, the mystery deepens. If they were admittedly not B-2s - what were they? 

Sorting through the hundreds of e-mails and comments I personally received, a pattern of sightings of these aircraft have emerged and I have a pretty good idea where they are based but it's something I'm not going to reveal until I have definitive proof.

And just when the hub-bub had slowed down, something interesting happened yesterday. At least two and possibly three times yesterday a 3 ship formation of B-2s flew over Amarillo.

One around 3 PM (which was witnessed and photographed by a friend of mine) and then again (by myself) while I was at my grandson's ball game. I even watched as they did a very wide turn,  went to the north with one of the B-2s coming over again flying the same track. Call sign monitored was "REAPR" flight.

So what is the Air Force up to? Why the sudden rash of B-2 overflights over my city? 

1 ship of REAPR flight turning to go over Amarillo again. He made a wide circle around 7:30 PM and followed the same track as before - but by the time he flew over it was too dark to photograph.

Is this some kind of nod to us Interceptors - that the schedulers at Whiteman slipped into their flight training planning to see if they'd be noticed? A sly joke? Or is it something else - are they conditioning us with so many B-2 overflights that other flights of the mystery aircraft will go unnoticed?
One ship of REAPR flight to the west of Amarillo, pulling a long contrail. Once he came over again it was too dark to get a pix even at 1600 ISO

As one of my friends remarked (his photo below) "Just saw another flight of B-2s heading east. That's more sightings in one day then I've had in the 2 1/2 years that I've lived here. I will say that's not a very nice trick to play on somebody. When I first looked up and saw them, they were just black triangles. Wasn't till I got my camera that I could tell they were B-2s. Got me all excited thinking maybe our mystery aircraft came back."

Photographed 4-8-2014

One thing was for sure, they were noticed and once again my phone was deluged with texts and calls alerting me to what I already knew that several billion dollars of B-2s were flying over Amarillo, something very unprecedented and not to mention very expensive.

"Mystery aircraft formation - photographed 3-10-14

That said, the overflight did provide a good reference to compare Dean and my mystery aircraft to. It's even clearer now the aircraft we photographed were not B-2s. The sweep angle (and as pointed out in the original post) the trailing edge are completely different from a B-2.

From personal observation it was also easier to gauge size. I'd say our mystery aircraft was about two-thirds the size of a B-2.

click to enlarge

In closing the mystery aircraft remains a mystery and I have a new quest to get better images from where I think it might be based. 

Soon I will publish the raw images for anyone to analyze, but until then only select images will be released as they are still being scrutinized by aviation and forensic photography experts. Below are a few enhanced frames that you can use to compare to the B-2 I photographed yesterday.

photographed 4-8-2014

Mystery aircraft CLICK TO ENLARGE

Again, inquiries have been made to Whiteman AFB Public Affairs office. Stay tuned for their reply. 

-Steve Douglass

UPDATE: I just received this reply, not quite as friendly as the last one.


Thanks for your query. For this and any future queries regarding this issue, as a matter of operational security, we will not discuss flight schedules and flight paths.


John M. Cooper
1st Lt, United States Air Force
Chief, Public Affairs, 509th Bomb Wing
Whiteman AFB, MO

UPDATE: Since the publication of this post I've received many photos showing the (what seems to me) elaborate display put on by Whiteman's B-2s over West Texas.

Apparently the very public show was witnessed by a lot of West Texans, the normally invisible bomber doing it's best to be seen by as many people as possible, pulling long contrails in the clear blue skies.

The display worthy of the Thunderbirds was seen from Roswell, New Mexico to Midland to Amarillo- the same apparent area where the mystery aircraft were spotted. 

Normally B-2 pilots do everything they can to avoid making contrails, but not in this case.
In conclusion B-2 pilots have the ability and the means to detect if they are producing a contrail. It's then just a simple matter of finding the altitude and humidity levels in the atmosphere where contrail formation can be managed. 

I'll let you draw your own conclusion why the B-2s obviously wanted to be seen over West Texas on 4-8-14.

-Steve Douglass

UPDATE: So let's do the math. LINK

Based on computations (for current published figures) to operate a single stealth bomber on training mission, considering fuel, maintenance, RAM upkeep, etc, it costs the American taxpayer on average $169,313.00 per hour to fly the B-2.

Considering that at least three B-2s were spotted over the Texas/New Mexico area for at least six hours, which does not account the trip back to Whiteman AFB (only loiter time over Texas) the USAF spent close to $4 million on their training sort'e, coincidentally through the same corridor that Dean, Ken and myself spotted the mystery aircraft.

If they had just given us the cash I'm sure we'd all be glad to recant and redact what we photographed.

PSS: Another REAPR flight of three B-2s flew over Amarillo today at around 3:00 PM.

(C) Todd Cason

More B-2 photos taken over Amarillo yesterday April, 11, 2014.

(C) R.B.

(C) R.B.

(C) R.B.

(C) R.B.


Anonymous said...

I'm curious as to whether these were simply overflights and they returned to their origin or whether these are hardware movements that might be related to what's going on in Ukraine...

Steve Douglass said...

I don't think these overflights had anything to do with the Ukraine, since Amarillo wouldn't be in the flight path from Whiteman in any direction they'd might take - plus the circling and going around and coming back over does not seem like something a B-2 pilot would do on a deployment else. In my opinion this was a dog & pony show - but as I told Bill Sweetman - "Once you've seen a unicorn - trotting a hundred horses by won't convince you you haven't."

Alex said...

I think their trying to discredit your sighting, by flooding the skies with B-2's flying in formation over Amarillo (something that is almost never done). Their trying to put doubt in to your sighting by taking advantage of the people that can't tell a Boeing 757 from a 767. But your photograph is very clear you got something "new" and they screwed up.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Some thoughts: could this be possible backpedaling and some plausible deniability? I can picture someone in a suit at a press conference: "Those weren't mystery aircraft, they were B-2s. See, we fly B-2s over Amarillo all of the time! There's even photos on the internet of a recent training mission on April 8th!" Okay, what we know - so they flew three somethings over Amarillo on 3-10. Then on 4-8 they flew a similar three ship formation of B2s over the city. Almost a month to the day. I can picture the same suited press conference spokesperson saying "We do monthly training sorties and that's what they saw last month and this one". So why were they so gung ho about displaying not one but three somethings a month ago? Was this back channel threat diplomacy to certain nations sabre rattling? Did someone make a mistake (probably cleaning latrines in Idaho if that was the case) or was there the real promise of releasing a new airframe that got pulled back? One can never tell.

What I want to know is this: if one can follow the flight paths of these craft using that website: is it the same as the three somethings?

JLew33 said...

Speaking as someone in the aerospace industry that lives in Palmdale, Ca (home to Air Force base plant 42, Lockheed Skunkworks, Northrop's phantom works facility, and a stones through from Edward's AFB) my "theory" is that this is Northrop's Next-Gen Bomber. The concept drawings aren't too far off. Were they meant to be seen yet, absolutely, otherwise they wouldn't be flying during daylight. If they weren't meant to be seen I would still be hearing the night flights taking off and flying over my house just like I have for 20+ years. Early this year, January and February, there were many of these night flights. They are very careful in the fact that if there is a half moon or bigger, they won't fly as to remain unscene other than landing lights. As for the B-2's flying a few days ago? I would think that they did the sorte with the unidentified aircraft last month, took notes and parked them until budget allowed for the B-2 flight this month to make a performance "comparison" flight. Of course with all of the attention they gained last month, they made sure the B-2 were well noticed to play the dog and pony show until they are ready for the "official" release of whatever it may be. Although, said "official" release could still be years away as it was with the case of the F-117.

Again, the above is just my "theory", or contribution to the theorizing process. I am by no means an expert, but I've been facinated with aviation, particularly defense, for almost 30 years. And with those years, living in the hot bed of defense aviation development, I've picked up on some patterns over the years and this fits right in to it. I may be wrong as to the aircraft I believe it could be, but if Vegas would allow for bets on this situation, I would take it.


Alex said...

This is happening in Miami every day since a week ago..

its crazy to see the planes going waaay and then a different one coming dawn..
it might sound crazy but at some point I think they are going outside the atmoaphere (the moon) and then coming back. At this point nobody knows if with todays technology these fellows might even be able to do that.

definetly something is happening or will happen in the very near future.

Anonymous said...

So there's no chance this is the already known but unseen RQ-180? Its about right for the size you show (wingspan of 130ft vs. 172 for the B-2) and most artist impressions of it share a similar trailing edge wing design.

Chuck said...

FWIW I saw a flight of three B-2s fly over my house about a year to a year and a half ago; I cannot remember the exact date. They were "conning" and not maneuvering. I live about 4 miles west of Rapid City SD city limits. These aircraft were flying due east. Their profile is unmistakable. cheers, chuck

Anonymous said...

See the Wichita photos yet?

Anonymous said...

Although unlikely, I wouldn't completely rule out the Ukraine connection. It might be a way of saying to Putin: "If you go too far, we'll pay you a visit".


JJ said...

A dear friend of mine was on a flight from LAX to NYC recently when the pilot came up on the 1mc and announced to everyone on the plane that they were being escorted by a stealth bomber. My friend who is not an aviation enthusiast knew right away what it was from watching the History channel with her son. The encounter was brief and only passengers sitting on the port side of the aircraft were able to see it. She described a black triangle type aircraft that appeared similar in design to the B2 but was smaller and didn't have any protruding engine cowlings. Unfortunately she didn't take any pics with her cell phone and doesnt recall seeing the other passengers taking pics either. This incident happened about 1/2 way through the flight approx 10 months ago.

Unknown said...


Im sure you've seen the news, but would like your input on if this could possibly be what you photographed:


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