This Popular Mechanics article writes (about the B-2 Spirit).

Only 543 people have ever flown in the cockpit of a B-2. Upon landing I'll become number 544, with the new Air Force handle "Spirit 544."

  1. Do people who have flown in B-2 Spirits have the Air Force handle "Spirit ###?"
  2. If so, which regulation/directive/etc. specifies that the handle of people who have ever flown in the cockpit of a B-2 Spirit be "Spirit ###?"
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @downvoter, Please comment or edit the question to improve it? Thanks! $\endgroup$ Apr 24, 2019 at 6:29
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    $\begingroup$ I’m not voting to close as “too broad” since it’s a very specific question, but it leans pretty far toward useless gee whiz trivia, uninteresting to nearly everyone. I suspect that explains the downvotes. But I don’t think it’s worth closing. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Apr 24, 2019 at 6:55
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    $\begingroup$ I think you should rephrase the question title as "What is the meaning of Sprit ###?" and edit the detail of the question to indicate you think this is and then put your 2 subquestions. $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Apr 24, 2019 at 7:37
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    $\begingroup$ I suspect the title was meant to refer to "Spirit", not "Sprit", since the former is what you're using in the question body. If I'm wrong, feel free to roll back the edit. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Apr 24, 2019 at 8:20
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    $\begingroup$ US military aviators get to choose their own 'handles' (callsigns), like "Maverick" and "Goose", so presumably it's a tradition that B-2 aviators choose "Spirit ###" as their handle. It doesn't have to be a regulation. $\endgroup$ Apr 24, 2019 at 21:20

2 Answers 2


Spirit XXX (Number) and Callsigns are different.

Spirit Number is the order of having flown the B-2. This Covers Pilots and VIP, journalist or having been reward with this incentive flights.

Spirit 1: July 17, 1989: B. J. Hinds, Northrop’s chief B-2 test pilot,
Spirit 2: July 17, 1989: Col. R. S. Couch "Rick" USAF First Co-pilot

This is similar to the Bandit Number used for the F-117 (and maybe the SR-71)

The current number excess 760 now.

I am sure the B-21 will have a Raider number.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer! Is there actually a list of that somewhere? $\endgroup$ Jun 24, 2021 at 16:13
  • $\begingroup$ I have seen no (online) public list - I assume there has to be a list and curator of it! $\endgroup$
    – Jets
    Jun 25, 2021 at 12:58
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, that's disappointing. Thanks for your answer though. $\endgroup$ Jun 26, 2021 at 19:13

Taking your questions in order:

Do people who have flown in B-2 Spirits have the Air Force handle "Spirit ###?"

It's plausible. The author of the article says so and there doesn't seem to be any reason to lie about such a trivial detail. That said, he also refers to the pilot as "Scar" rather than as "Spirit [whatever]" so even if Spirit-number is a callsign that a pilot has earned, it doesn't mean it's necessarily the one that they'll always fly with.

If so, which regulation/directive/etc. specifies that the handle of people who have ever flown in the cockpit of a B-2 Spirit be "Spirit ###?"

There seem to be no such regulations, or if any do exist, they are applied individually. Pilot callsigns are generally given informally, according to this article, which is not an official military publication. Although the content of this article is unfortunate, it substantiates the first one. Finally, the Air Force publishes official voice call sign guidelines, which do not list regulations for pilot callsigns.

  • $\begingroup$ @BarryHarrison - Yes I do, but I also mean to indicate that particular group of pilots might have "rules" that are only applied within that group, such as "All our callsigns follow theme X" or "Nobody gets callsign Y in memory of pilot Y who died last year" and so on. $\endgroup$
    – Steve V.
    Apr 25, 2019 at 21:26
  • $\begingroup$ @BarryHarrison Sure, you could google "callsign traditions" or better, ask it as a new question here! One fairly standard rule is the bar test: your callsign will probably be embarrassing, but shouldn't be so embarrassing that you can't pick up dates at the bar with it. $\endgroup$
    – Steve V.
    Apr 25, 2019 at 21:37
  • $\begingroup$ I am reading this right now and part of it reads: "...one AC-130H, AF Serial No. 69-6567, call-sign Spirit 03, opted to..." So I guess Spirit isn't a unique callsign? $\endgroup$ Apr 25, 2019 at 21:51
  • $\begingroup$ @BarryHarrison - At this point the comment thread is becoming an extended discussion. You should ask a new question about this new topic, so you can get more answers than just mine. $\endgroup$
    – Steve V.
    Apr 25, 2019 at 22:12

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