As is tradition, the US Air Force blends a flyover with a training mission and sends a pair of B-2 Spirit bombers for the New Years Day festivities in Pasadena. The B-2 is based in Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri but has roots in Southern California, so the annual trek is a bit of a homecoming tour. Northrop had B-2 assembly plants in Pico Rivera and Palmdale. B-2 maintenance and refurbishment still is done in Palmdale. The B-2 is no stranger to Edwards Air Force Base either.
A similar playbook unfolded for 2022. The Spirit of Louisiana (flying as callsign Death12) handled the Rose Parade in the morning and Spirit of Hawaii (flying as callsign Death 11) took care of the Rose Bowl game in the afternoon.
The flying wing is unique and distinctive. It cuts a silhouette in the sky that is unmistakable. It is whisper quiet in flight until it passes and then the low rumble whoosh of the jet engines follows close behind. How low? The B-2 that opened the Rose Parade cleared Colorado Boulevard at about 1500 feet above sea level or something like 800 feet above the ground.
Between the parade and the game, the pair of B-2s headed up the California coast. Eagle-eyed watchers spotted them and even spotted a mid-air refueling operation over San Luis Obispo.
Some years, both B-2s orbit in the same holding pattern before one peels off and makes its run over Pasadena. They hide above the Angeles National Forest and the San Gabriel mountains before popping over the hills to make their appearance. In 2022, only the B-2 designated to make the flyover run occupied the space, but observers who knew where to look caught glimpses of the black triangle peeking behind mountains and in and out of clouds before showtime.
There are numerous places to see the B-2 around Pasadena and Glendale. You don't need fancy camera equipment or special media credentials or even a paid seat. Happy New Year!