Airman plays big role in B-2 legacy
He is Whiteman 7. He is
Spirit 36. He is "GQ." He is the first Whiteman-trained B-2 Spirit
instructor pilot. And now, he is the project officer for the
celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Spirit of
Missouri’s arrival here Dec. 17.
Col. Scott Land, 509th Operations Group deputy commander, who
has been assigned here three times during the last 10 years, has
been a part of the B-2 program from its infancy.
"I didn’t expect to be a part of this program, because
initially when the Air Force was looking at it, they said
specifically that they wanted pilots with navigator experience, and
so I didn’t consider myself to be eligible," Land said. "But
obviously, God had a plan and brought me into this program."
Land, who was commissioned at the US Air Force Academy in 1981,
began his flying career as an instructor pilot in the T-38 Talon
and the B-1 Lancer. He was selected by both Strategic Air Command
and Air Combat Command officials in the early 1990s to be in the
first B-2 training class.
"I’m Spirit 36, which means that in all the world, I was
the 36th person to fly the B-2," he said.
Everyone who flies the
B-2 receives a Spirit number, Land said. There is also a Whiteman
number assigned to people who are flying as part of the 509th Bomb
Wing. Today, the lists stand at Whiteman 193 and Spirit 309.
Land was also the first B-2 instructor pilot to receive all his
"When we (in the original class) were designated into the
program, we all got orders to Whiteman, but they spread us out, and
I was the first one to get here," Land said.
During his first assignment here from 1993 to 1997, Land served
as a B-2 flight commander for the 393rd Bomb Squadron. He became
the assistant operations officer and operations officer before
moving on to a position at the Pentagon.
Land returned to Whiteman in 1999, was requalified in the B-2
and took command of the 394th Combat Training Squadron.
Land left in 2001 to attend Air War College at Maxwell Air Force
Base, Ala., and returned during the summer of 2002 to serve in his
current position. But for all his time with the Air Force, the
509th BW and the B-2, Land had not seen combat until Operation
"It was frustrating for me not to be a part of what the Air
Force was doing when it came to combat," Land said. "It’s not
that I look forward to combat, but if the nation is at war, I want
to be part of the team flying combat operations."
Land was part of the first wing team to fly combat missions from
a forward-deployed location, and he said his memories of that
experience are some of the best of his career.
"Every time a B-2 taxied out (at the deployed location), there
were 150 to 200 509ers lined up on the ramp, watching it and
saluting the airplane. And every single time a B-2 landed after a
combat mission, there were 150 to 200 people out there," Land said.
"They were there to see the pilots off, and they were there to
greet the pilots when they came back, because they knew they were
part of the team. I will never forget that esprit de corps."
Since returning from the deployment, Land said he has been
focused on organizing the 10th anniversary celebration.
He volunteered to be the project officer for the event when he
realized he was one of only a few people who were here for the
first delivery. But Land said the celebration is not just about the
B-2, it’s also about the 509th BW team.
"I would like the members of the 509th to understand that
everything that has happened to the B-2 in the last 10 years has
happened because of their efforts, their dedication, their
innovation and their willingness to do whatever it takes to make
the mission work," he said. "But what’s more important is the
As for Land’s future, he said he will go wherever the Air
Force wants him to go, but feels privileged to have been at
Whiteman as long as he has.
"To be a part of (the B-2 program) for the duration means that
this weapon system and this community, the B-2 community, will
always be extremely near and dear to my heart," he said. "I just
hope that I can always be a part of the B-2 legacy."
ANN extends a special thanks to 2nd Lt. Kat Ohlmeyer (USAF),
509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs