"The Dream Realised - B-2 Bomber"
by Ronald Wong
Considerable effort has been devoted to maintaining the security of the B-2's design and technologies. Staff working on the B-2 in most, if not all, capacities have to achieve a level of special-access clearance, and undergo extensive background checks carried out by a special branch of the Air Force.
For the manufacturing, a former Ford automobile assembly plant in Pico Rivera, California, was acquired and heavily rebuilt; the plant's employees were sworn to complete secrecy regarding their work.
To avoid the possibility of suspicion, components were typically purchased through front companies, military officials would visit out of uniform, and staff members were routinely subjected to polygraph examinations.
The secrecy extended so far that access to nearly all information on the program by both Government Accountability Office (GAO) and virtually all members of Congress itself was severely limited until the mid-1980s. Northrop (now Northrop Grumman) was the B-2's prime contractor; major subcontractors included Boeing, Hughes Aircraft (now Raytheon), GE, and Vought Aircraft.
The secrecy surrounding the development and testing of the B-2 was not always successful:
In 1984, a Northrop employee, Thomas Cavanaugh was arrested for attempting to sell classified information to the Soviet Union; the information was taken from Northrop's Pico Rivera, California factory. Cavanaugh was eventually sentenced to life in prison and released on parole in 2001.
In October 2005, Noshir Gowadia, a design engineer who worked on the B-2's propulsion system, was arrested for selling B-2 related classified information to foreign countries. Gowadia was convicted and sentenced to 32 years in prison for his actions.
The B-2 was first publicly displayed on 22 November 1988 at United States Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, where it was assembled. This viewing was heavily restricted, and guests were not allowed to see the rear of the B-2. However, Aviation Week editors found that there were no airspace restrictions above the presentation area and took aerial photographs of the aircraft's then-secret rear section with suppressed engine exhausts. The B-2's (s/n 82-1066 / AV-1) first public flight was on 17 July 1989 from Palmdale to Edwards AFB.
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For over four decades, we have had the opportunity to provide aviation art collectors and WWII history buffs with special, signed aviation prints. We represent all of the top aviation artists in the world and we know all the prints that have ever been published, so if you are looking for a print, let us help you find it. Most importantly, we have a selection of prints that were signed by pilots who fought in significant wars, like World War I, World War II, Vietnam, and Korea - many of them are no longer with us.
Virginia was the first person to sell aviation art in the U.S and to sell prints actually signed by the pilots. Our experience bringing famous Aces over from Germany and Britain, allows us to bring our customers closer to their favorite pilots than they ever imagined and the good signature prints are becoming increasingly unavailable.
We invite you to browse our website either by
Artist, Airplane Type or Title.
If you are in the California area, come visit our gallery on John Wayne Airport in Orange County, where we have many fantastic framed and unframed art prints on display.
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