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Rapid City Journal April 06, 2008

A history of B-1 crashes

Three Ellsworth Air Force Base B-1B Lancer bombers have crashed since the first B-1s were assigned to the base in January 1987, resulting in the loss of four lives.

Another eight aviators have died in B-1 and prototype crashes since 1984, according to www.globalsecurity.org.

Incidents related to Ellsworth:

* The first crash of an Ellsworth B-1 happened in November 1988 while landing at the base. The bomber hit three poles, a high-voltage power line and an approach light stanchion on its approach to the runway in a heavy overcast.

The four crew members on board ejected from the plane and were hospitalized with injuries that were not life-threatening. They were out of the hospital within a few days, according to Rapid City Journal archives.

An Air Force investigation concluded that the pilot and co-pilot lost track of altitude because of weather conditions.

* In September 1997, four men were killed when the B-1 bomber they were flying in crashed in southeast Montana after leaving Ellsworth. The crash occurred when the bomber's left wing struck the ground while the crew was practicing a defensive maneuver.

Pilot error was ruled the cause of that crash, according to Rapid City Journal archives.

* In December 2001, a B-1 deployed from Ellsworth crashed while flying from Diego Garcia, an island in the Indian Ocean, to Afghanistan.

A Navy ship rescued the four crew members.

The cause of the crash remains unknown.

* A safety shutdown was ordered on all B-1 Lancers after the nose-gear collapsed on another Ellsworth B-1 after it landed at an undisclosed location in the Middle East in January 2005.

The nose-gear collapsed after the bomber taxied into its parking spot. No one was injured.

The B-1B Lancer fleet remained grounded for six days.

Incidents not related to Ellsworth:

* The first B-1A bomber crash in 1984 involved a prototype that crashed. A Rockwell test pilot died when the parachute system on the ejection module malfunctioned. Two crew members in the same ejection module survived.

* After the B-1B Lancer bombers became operational in 1986, the first crash occurred in September 1987 near Pueblo, Colo. A Dyess Air Force Base bomber was on a low-level training mission when it struck a pelican. The bird damaged hydraulic, electrical and fuel lines, starting a fire.

Three crewmen, including two instructors who were not in ejection seats, died. The third crew member died when his ejection seat malfunctioned. Three crew members safely ejected from the aircraft.

* A Dyess bomber crashed during "touch-and-go" landings in November 1988 when a fire in the left wing knocked out two of the jet's four engines and burned out critical control equipment. All four crewmen ejected to safety.

The Air Force was unable to determine what caused that fire.

* Four crewmen on a Dyess B-1 died in November 1992 when their bomber crashed during a low-level night sortie.

The Air Force attributed the crash to pilot error.

* A B-1 originating from Dyess crashed near Marion, Ky., in February 1998, after a short circuit in the plane's electrical system shut down all four engines during a low-level training mission.

All four crew members ejected safely from the aircraft.

* In May 2006, a Dyess B-1 made a wheels-up belly landing at Diego Garcia, skidding 7,500 feet down the runway. The plane caught fire during the landing.

The four-person aircrew escaped the plane through an overhead escape hatch.


Copyright 2008, Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, SD