For once last week, your rational, science-minded friends interested in aviation and your wingnut conspiracy-minded friends interested in government secrecy were all talking about the same thing.
Their explanations for this thing will probably not fall into alignment.
On Thursday, numerous plane-spotter-types in the Twin Cities noticed that what appeared to be B-2 Spirit planes, commonly known as "stealth bombers," were passing over Minneapolis. (That numerous civilians who happened to look up at the right time were able to pick out "stealth" aircraft we spent $45 billion on raises its own questions, but we digress.)
Whatever it was, this was no minor operation: As many as 10 B-2s were above the Twin Cities, traveling west, in two sets of four, with two more following close behind, as observed by local journalist and aviation enthusiast Jonathan Kealing.
Two flights of four B-2 bombers just flew north over the Minneapolis area. Don’t see that every day. #avgeek— Jonathan Kealing (@JKealing) April 19, 2018
Make that two more. That’s half of the US Air Force stealth bomber fleet all active and over Minnesota right now. Headed somewhere. pic.twitter.com/Ghwah5Irjp— Jonathan Kealing (@JKealing) April 19, 2018
One of 10 USAF B-2s that flew over Mpls this evening, headed WNW, possibly to rendezvous with a dozen KC-10 tankers over South Dakota. Photo by Brian Nipe (His is better than mine.) #avgeek pic.twitter.com/eJuZn8Zkbd— Jonathan Kealing (@JKealing) April 20, 2018
One of the B-2 Spirit bombers passing overhead near Minneapolis, MN today, apparently for Neptune Falcon 2018. Via Facebook, with Permission. �� Toryne Driggs Mohr pic.twitter.com/CQy5nZwrkE— Nick Benson (@Ottergoose) April 20, 2018
As Kealing noted, 10 B-2s is half of the U.S. Air Force's entire stealth bomber fleet. Given the potential payload, if these planes were headed toward an actual target... anyone living there was in some serious short-term trouble.
Because stealth bombers' movements are not usually made public -- that's sort of the whole point -- internet sleuths were left to speculate. (More bombing in Syria? A preemptive hit on North Korea? Had Sarah Palin spotted something off the coast of Russia?) At least until Friday, when the Air Force released a statement confirming the B-2s were merely partaking in a regularly scheduled training run.
These exercises are "designed to increase interoperability," an Air Force Global Strike Commnand spokesperson told the Air Force Times. A spokesperson for Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada attempted to top the first one's expert military-speak, explaining these pilots are involved in "joint air interoperability exercises designed to maintain readiness and evaluate employment capabilities in a realistic training environment."
Next time someone asks why they should visit the Twin Cities, tell them experts consider us a "realistic training environment" for raining down death from above.
The stealth runs were part of training routines called Nepton Falcon or Neptune Hawk; the same exercises ran last spring, and also featured 10 B-2s flying all at once. That time, they spent 16 hours in the air, refueling twice, in an attempt to simulate long-distance bombing runs in the event the United States goes to war. Like, another war, not one of the the ones we're already in.
Anyway, that's what the Air Force wants you to believe. Meanwhile, here's a short, spooky Youtube video from an Alex Jones wannabe -- from the "About" page: "IF YOU ARE TOO CLOSE MINDED, THIS CHANNEL IS NOT FOR YOU!" -- who notes there's been "a lot of chatter" about the stealth bomber sightings.
He then runs a video clip someone took of the B-2s overhead. "What are they up to?" the filmer asks, adding, ominously: "Something's about to go down."
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