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Train together, fight together

  • Published
  • By Amn Michaela R. Slanchik

“I still remember the first time I saw the B-2 Spirit,” said Royal Air Force (RAF) Squadron Leader Wesley “Wild” Pead, a 13th Bomb Squadron assistant director of operations. He was participating in combat training operations in the RAF Tornado GR4 at a Red Flag exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

“I got the opportunity to see the B-2 up close and personal,” he added. “I thought that was a privilege – little did I know one day I would fly this beautiful jet.”

As a pilot, Pead was no stranger to the U.S. Air Force. Having participated in several exercises with coalition partners and even utilized U.S. Air Force aerial refueling, he would receive a unique opportunity only four others before him had: becoming a foreign exchange officer qualified to fly the B-2.

“If we’re going to combat together, we need to train together,” said Pead.

On Sept. 1, 2014, Pead once more stepped foot on American soil and began his journey with the U.S. Air Force pilot exchange program.

Although Pead has been a pilot since commissioning with the RAF in 2003, he had never flown an aircraft quite like the B-2.

“It was very different,” said Pead, in his unique accent. “A little cooler.”

Pead earned his spirit number, 595, flying the Spirit of Pennsylvania. As the 595th person to fly the stealth bomber, he is currently the only B-2 pilot who is not a U.S. Airman.

“The first thing that struck me as I walked up to the B-2 was the size,” said Pead. “Once in the air, I was struck by how smooth she was to fly and overall how lucky I was to be given this opportunity.”

The B-2 pilot earned his combat mission-ready status by flying the aircraft 55 times throughout the last two years, totaling 300 hours.
Pead’s tour in America comes to a close this week, as a new venture awaits him back home.

The RAF has offered him a job as a trials director for the F-35B Lightning II at the Air Warfare Center in the United Kingdom.

“My tactical, operational and strategic ways of thinking have developed,” said Pead. “I look forward to returning to the RAF to add a unique perspective to these areas as the RAF develops its F-35B community.”

Pead said he will miss the food, weather, and, most importantly, the people here. Team Whiteman became more than just allies: They became family.

Although he hopes to not have to put his skills to the test, he is more prepared than ever to fight with his brothers and sisters in arms, making any mission possible.

He has gained experience flying in a different aircraft, air space, and learned how to fly sorties with his mission partners. After all, how much more integrated can you get than sharing the sky and gaining a deeper understanding of what everyone brings to the fight?

“From our first day at Whiteman until the last, the people and community have welcomed my family and me graciously,” said Pead. “We could not have asked to have met and spent the last two and a half years with a better set of people.”