Is That Gum Stuck to My Nuclear Bomber? Plus 4 Other USAF Pics of Exposed Aircraft Skin

It's Monday, and that means it's time for our weekly dose of U.S. Air Force (USAF) coolness. And this time it's all about aircraft skin, captured on camera from various angles and in various lights as the military aircraft were conducting all sorts of missions and demos meant to project America's might abroad.
Airman inspecting the fuselage of a B-2 Spirit 6 photos
Photo: USAF/Tech. Sgt. Heather Salazar
F-22 Raptors flyign formationAirman inspecting the fuselage of a B-2 SpiritF-16 Fighting FalconF-35 LightningUSAF flyover
As usual, as soon as last week ended the USAF released into the wild a bunch of photos it believes are the most representative of its personnel's recent dealings. We picked five of them, and they're all listed below.

You'll get to see a demo-team-operated F-35 do what it does best, Raptors flying formation, an F-16 cruising the skies alone, how checking of a stealth bomber is performed, and an impressive flyover of a tanker-fighter formation.

Stratotanker papa takes F-16 kids to record-breaking volleyball game

USAF flyover
Photo: USAF/Senior Airman Alexander D. Schriner
We'll start with the flyover, something competition-going Americans are very used to. The method has been used by the American military for decades now as a means not only to wow the crowds and possibly draw in new members, but also in a bid to show that it is involved in the life of the community.

Although flyovers generally take place over high-profile events like races and Super Bowls, apparently less high-profile ones do get a chance of having military aircraft fly overhead for the wow factor.

The image we have here was captured at the end of August over the local stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska. Packed full with exactly 92,003 people, the location was home to a University of Nebraska–Lincoln volleyball game. I wrote the exact number because thanks to it this game broke the world record for women's sporting event attendance.

The planes the USAF sent to fly over the stadium and mark the occasion are a KC-135R Stratotanker and a trio of F-16 Fighting Falcons. Together, they kind of look like a family of airplanes, father and sons, going out for a day at the stadium.

Lonely Viper in the sky (not from the Colonial Fleet)

F\-16 Fighting Falcon
Photo: USAF/Master Sgt. Roidan Carlson
The F-16 Fighting Falcon is without a doubt the most successful fighter jet of all time. Although it didn't take part in as many battles as the planes of World War II did, it remains the most widespread aircraft of its kind, and one with immense potential.

The plane came to life in 1974 at the hands of General Dynamics, and since that time over 4,600 of them were built. Pilots are so fond of them, and so pleased with what they can do that they even imagine themselves to be pilots of Battlestar Galactica's Colonial fleet, so they nicknamed the plane Viper.

You can see one of these beautiful beasts in the above pic, captured as a Viper deployed with the 8th Fighter Squadron was flying a mission over the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

The F-16 shows much of its skin for the camera as the pilot, an instructor, was taking it out for a spin "for molding and training the next generation of combat-ready Viper pilots and preparing them for action in possible future conflicts."

Rare three-Raptor hunting party

F\-22 Raptors flyign formation
Photo: USAF/Airman 1st Class Andrew Britten
As one of the most advanced airplanes flying in the skies of the world today, the F-22 Raptor is also one of the most precious. Not only on account of its cost ($143 million per piece), but also because only so many of them were made: just 183 units, all of them deployed by American forces.

That's why seeing three of them in one place is not something that happens very often. Yet here they are, planes deployed with the 3rd Wing as seen from inside a KC-46A Pegasus.

The planes were captured on camera in one place in mid-August, as they were flying over the Joint Pacific-Alaska Range Complex (JPARC) during exercise Red Flag-Alaska 23-3. With 77,000 square miles (almost 200,000 square km) of airspace, JPARC is not only the world's largest military training range, but also the perfect place for Raptors and their pilots to show their skill in packs.

F-35 Lightning flips and rolls

F\-35 Lightning
Photo: USAF/Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur
Inverted flying is not something military pilots are not accustomed to, but no matter how many times we see such instances, we can't stop being amazed at how vulnerable and at the same powerful the planes doing this look.

Civilians usually get to experience such things during air shows, and that is exactly from where this pic of an F-35 Lightning comes from. It's not just any F-35, if there ever was such a thing, but the one flying for the plane's official demonstration team, with pilot Major Kristin Wolfe in the cockpit.

This image comes our way from the Gowen Thunder Airshow in Idaho, where the Lightning was present at the end of August. And we must say, even if we've seen this particular plane in action in official USAF releases before, this is perhaps the most spectacular instance of it yet.

Is that gum stuck to my plane?

Airman inspecting the fuselage of a B\-2 Spirit
Photo: USAF/Tech. Sgt. Heather Salazar
Before and after each mission, military aircraft get checked for possible issues. Contrary to popular belief, these procedures are not always performed using high-tech machinery, as sometimes the best way to see if something is wrong or not is to use human eyes and hands.

Last week we've seen how a human performs such checks perched on top of a $143 million F-22 Raptor, in the sunset, armed with a flashlight. Now it's time for something a bit more… bizarre.

Climbed on top of a B-2 Spirit, a USAF maintainer seems to be scraping something off the fuselage of the plane, kind of like we all do when we see gum stuck to something of ours.

The image was captured by USAF people in mid-August in Iceland, where the planes of the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron were taking part in the Bomber Task Force 23-4 exercise.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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