The B-2 stealth bomber, which had participated in the annual New Year’s Day events in Pasadena, California, for more than 25 years, did not carry out its traditional flight earlier this week.
Instead, a pair of B-1B Lancers from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, flew over the 2023 Tournament of Roses Parade and Rose Bowl football game on Monday.
The change was decided in December following an incident on Dec. 10 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, when a B-2 malfunctioned in flight and made an emergency landing, causing the entire nuclear bomber fleet to stand down for a safety check.
“Our number one concern is the safety and security of our personnel and fleet. We deeply regret having to make this decision so close to the event,” Col. Daniel Diehl, the 509th Bomb Wing commander, said in a release. “Although we are not participating in this flyover, we remain steadfast in our commitment to answer our nation’s call.”
The choice to not fly the B-2 aircraft marks the first time the stealth bombers did not participate in the annual tradition — excluding when the parade was canceled in 2021 during the pandemic — since they were added to the program in 1997 as a tribute to the Air Force’s 50th anniversary, according to the 509th Bomb Wing.
This year, the parade and football game were held on Jan. 2 as opposed to New Year’s Day because of an ongoing tradition to never host either on a Sunday.
A winter storm at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, disrupted planned support from its 28th Bomb Wing, but eventually aircrews were arranged to take off from Dyess to help with the New Year’s festivities, the 7th Bomb Wing said.
Diehl said in the release the Air Force is committed to returning the B-2 bombers to Pasadena in 2024.
Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media