CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod reports that Thursday morning was homecoming for the first B-2 stealth bombers ever to see combat.
"The airplane performed magnificently," said Brigadier Gen. Leroy Barnidge. "By all indications that we can get, the bombs went exactly where they wanted."
Before those pilots ever dropped bombs over Yugoslavia, they spent hundreds of hours in the cramped, dark cockpit of the B-2 simulator at Whiteman Air Force Base in central Missouri, home of the B-2 bomber.
The trainer can simlute night, rain and altitude. The trainers can also simulate taking off in formation or being chased by an enemy fighter. They can even simulate the turbulence felt in the cockpit when the bombs they're dropping detonate on the ground.
The B-2 pilots who came home from Yugoslavia on Thursday morning were airborne for more than 30 hours. They ate and slept during their mission, having done it plenty of times before in practice.
"You don't fly a B-2 on a long-duration sortie until you've proven that you can do it in the simulator, including your sleep cycles," said Col. Tony Imondi.
The Air Force is busting its buttons over the debut of the B-2. And what they're saying is battle-tested confirmation that practice has made perfect.
©1999 CBS Worldwide Corp. All rights reserved