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THE CREW of the B-2 Spirit Stealth bomber visiting this weekend's Royal International Air Tattoo say they have been amazed and humbled by the welcome they have received at RAF Fairford.

Thousands of visitors have made their way to the western end of the airfield to get up close to the enigmatic aircraft.

Lt Col Matt Calhoun, who is charge of the aircraft's visit to Fairford, said: "We are thrilled to be here at Fairford, and representing the United States Air Force (USAF). We attend many air shows in the United States but we don't get to show the aircraft off on the international stage very often, so it's great to be the centre of so much attention."

His colleague Capt Ben Smith has been flying the B-2 Spirit for three-and-a-half years and will fly the aircraft from Fairford back to its home base of Whiteman AFB in Missouri. He said: "It's my first time here and the Air Tattoo and it's an awesome airshow, it's great to be part of it. The Spirit's an impressive aircraft to fly, but there's not very much room up in the cockpit."

The B-2 took 10 hours to fly from Whiteman to the Air Tattoo, emerging out of the murky Fairford skies to land at 7pm yesterday (Friday). Thousands of enthusiasts had braved the wind and the rain to catch a glimpse of the machine.

The last time a B-2 appeared in the static display at the Air Tattoo was back in 1999. The USAF has just 20 of the Stealth bombers, each one named after a US state: the aircraft appearing at the event is named the Spirit of New York.

July 7, 2012

“It was an epic spectacle, as magical as anything you've ever seen in the West End, and as loud as anything you've ever heard at Knebworth.”

Jeremy Clarkson, Television Presenter

“All the thrills, excitement and noise of a Grand Prix, but in the air!”

Jenson Button, Formula 1 Racing Driver

“This is the best airshow!”

Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 Astronaut

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