2008 Andersen Air Force Base B-2 accident

Last updated

2008 Andersen Air Force Base B-2 accident
Crashed B-2.jpg
The crashed Spirit of Kansas
Date23 February 2008 (2008-02-23)
SummaryCrashed on take-off following stall
Site Andersen Air Force Base, Guam
13°35′13″N144°56′19″E / 13.58694°N 144.93861°E / 13.58694; 144.93861 Coordinates: 13°35′13″N144°56′19″E / 13.58694°N 144.93861°E / 13.58694; 144.93861
Aircraft type Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit
Aircraft nameSpirit of Kansas
Operator United States Air Force
Registration 89-0127
Flight origin Andersen Air Force Base, Guam

On 23 February 2008, Spirit of Kansas, a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber of the United States Air Force, crashed on the runway moments after takeoff from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. The aircraft was destroyed, but both crew members successfully ejected. [1] The accident marked the first operational loss of a B‑2 bomber, and as of 2021 it remains the only one. With an estimated loss of US$1.4 billion, it was also the most expensive aircraft crash in history. [2] [3]



On 23 February 2008, a B‑2 crashed on the runway shortly after takeoff from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. [1] The crash of the Spirit of Kansas, 89-0127, which had been operated by the 393rd Bomb Squadron, 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, and which had logged 5,100 flight hours, [4] was the first ever crash of a B‑2. [5]

The two-officer crew attempted to control the bomber but were unable to do so, and as one of its wingtips made contact with the ground, they ejected and survived the crash. The aircraft was destroyed, a total loss estimated at US$1.4 billion. [6]

According to the Air Force Times, which is a private-industry magazine, no munitions were on board. [7] The Air Combat Command accident board report states that "classified material" had been loaded onto the bomber the morning the aircraft was returning to Whiteman Air Force Base "after a four-month deployment in support of Pacific Air Forces' continuous bomber presence." [8]

At Guam Naval Hospital, one pilot was evaluated and released, and the second was hospitalized. A B‑2 already in the air was called back to Andersen following the crash, where it and the other B‑2s were grounded until an initial investigation into the crash was complete. Six Boeing B‑52s of the 96th Bomb Squadron, 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, were deployed to replace the B‑2s. [1] [9]

The commander of the 509th Bomb Wing, Brig. Gen. Garrett Harencak, followed up on the incident by temporarily suspending flying operations for all 20 remaining B‑2s to review procedures. Harencak termed the suspension a "safety pause" and stated that the B‑2s would resume flying if called upon for immediate operations. [10] The B‑2 fleet returned to flight status on 15 April 2008. [11]


The findings of the investigation stated that the B‑2 crashed after "heavy, lashing rains" caused moisture to enter skin-flush air-data sensors. The data from the sensors are used to calculate numerous factors including airspeed and altitude. Because three pressure transducers failed to function, [12] not attributable to maintenance error, due to condensation inside devices, the flight-control computers calculated inaccurate aircraft angle of attack and airspeed. Incorrect airspeed data on cockpit displays led to the aircraft rotating at 12 knots slower than indicated. After the wheels lifted from the runway, which caused the flight control system to switch to different control laws, the erroneously sensed negative angle of attack caused the computers to inject a sudden, 1.6‑g, uncommanded 30-degree pitch-up maneuver. The combination of slow lift-off speed and the extreme angle of attack, with attendant drag, resulted in an unrecoverable stall, yaw, and descent. Both crew members successfully ejected from the aircraft soon after the left wing tip started to gouge the ground alongside the runway. The aircraft hit the ground, tumbled, and burned after its fuel ignited. [2] [8] [13] [14]

Related Research Articles

Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit American strategic stealth bomber

The NorthropB-2 Spirit, also known as the Stealth Bomber, is an American heavy strategic bomber, featuring low observable stealth technology designed for penetrating dense anti-aircraft defenses. Designed during the Cold War, it is a flying wing design with a crew of two. The bomber can deploy both conventional and thermonuclear weapons, such as up to eighty 500-pound class (230 kg) Mk 82 JDAM GPS-guided bombs, or sixteen 2,400-pound (1,100 kg) B83 nuclear bombs. The B-2 is the only acknowledged aircraft that can carry large air-to-surface standoff weapons in a stealth configuration.

Rockwell B-1 Lancer American strategic bomber by Rockwell, later Boeing

The Rockwell B-1 Lancer is a supersonic variable-sweep wing, heavy bomber used by the United States Air Force. It is commonly called the "Bone". It is one of three strategic bombers in the U.S. Air Force fleet as of 2020, the other two being the B-2 Spirit and the B-52 Stratofortress.

Vickers Valiant British four-jet high-altitude bomber

The Vickers Valiant was a British high-altitude jet bomber designed to carry nuclear weapons, and in the 1950s and 1960s was part of the Royal Air Force's "V bomber" strategic deterrent force. It was developed by Vickers-Armstrongs in response to Specification B.35/46 issued by the Air Ministry for a nuclear-armed jet-powered bomber. The Valiant was the first of the V bombers to become operational, and was followed by the Handley Page Victor and the Avro Vulcan. The Valiant was the only V bomber to have dropped live nuclear weapons.

Boeing B-47 Stratojet Strategic jet bomber in service with US Air Force 1947–1977

The Boeing B-47 Stratojet is a retired American long-range, six-engined, turbojet-powered strategic bomber designed to fly at high subsonic speed and at high altitude to avoid enemy interceptor aircraft. The primary mission of the B-47 was as a nuclear bomber capable of striking targets within the Soviet Union.

Andersen Air Force Base United States Air Force base in Guam

Andersen Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) northeast of Yigo near Agafo Gumas in the United States territory of Guam. Along with Naval Base Guam, Andersen AFB was placed under the command of Joint Region Marianas on 1 October 2009. The two bases are about 30 miles apart at opposite ends of the island. Administration offices for Joint Region Marianas are about half-way in between, at Nimitz Hill.

Pitot-static system

A pitot-static system is a system of pressure-sensitive instruments that is most often used in aviation to determine an aircraft's airspeed, Mach number, altitude, and altitude trend. A pitot-static system generally consists of a pitot tube, a static port, and the pitot-static instruments. Other instruments that might be connected are air data computers, flight data recorders, altitude encoders, cabin pressurization controllers, and various airspeed switches. Errors in pitot-static system readings can be extremely dangerous as the information obtained from the pitot static system, such as altitude, is potentially safety-critical. Several commercial airline disasters have been traced to a failure of the pitot-static system.

509th Bomb Wing Unit of the US Air Force, part of the Air Force Global Strike Command

The 509th Bomb Wing is a United States Air Force unit assigned to the Air Force Global Strike Command, Eighth Air Force. It is stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri.

509th Operations Group

The 509th Operations Group is the flying component of the United States Air Force 509th Bomb Wing, assigned to Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. It is equipped with all 20 of the USAF's B-2 Spirit stealth bombers. Its 13 BS also uses T-38 Talon trainers.

1994 Fairchild Air Force Base B-52 crash US aviation accident

On Friday, 24 June 1994, a United States Air Force (USAF) Boeing B-52 Stratofortress crashed at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, United States, after its pilot, Lieutenant Colonel Arthur "Bud" Holland, maneuvered the bomber beyond its operational limits and lost control. The B-52 stalled, fell to the ground and exploded, killing Holland and the three other field-grade officers on board the aircraft. In addition, one person on the ground suffered injuries during the accident, but survived. The crash was captured on video and was shown repeatedly on news broadcasts throughout the world.

131st Bomb Wing

The 131st Bomb Wing is a unit of the Missouri Air National Guard, stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base, Knob Noster, Missouri. If activated to federal service, the wing is gained by the United States Air Force Global Strike Command. It is an associate unit of the active-duty 509th Bomb Wing, which falls under the Eighth Air Force.

393rd Bomb Squadron

The 393rd Bomb Squadron, sometimes written as 393d Bomb Squadron, is part of the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. It operates Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit nuclear-capable strategic bomber aircraft.

110th Bomb Squadron

The 110th Bomb Squadron is a unit of the Missouri Air National Guard 131st Bomb Wing located at Whiteman Air Force Base, Knob Noster, Missouri. The 110th is equipped with the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit.

2008 Guam B-52 crash

The 2008 Guam B-52 crash was a fatal crash of a United States Air Force (USAF) B-52H Stratofortress on 21 July 2008. The aircraft, operating out of Andersen Air Force Base, crashed into the Pacific Ocean during a training flight approximately 30 nautical miles (56 km) northwest of Apra Harbor, Guam. The training flight was to include participation in a local municipal celebration of Liberation Day in Hagåtña. All six crew members aboard the aircraft were killed and the aircraft was destroyed.

Boeing B-52 Stratofortress American strategic bomber with the US Air Force since 1955

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is an American long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber. The B-52 was designed and built by Boeing, which has continued to provide support and upgrades. It has been operated by the United States Air Force (USAF) since the 1950s. The bomber is capable of carrying up to 70,000 pounds (32,000 kg) of weapons, and has a typical combat range of more than 8,800 miles (14,080 km) without aerial refueling.

69th Bomb Squadron

The 69th Bomb Squadron is an active United States Air Force unit. After being inactivated on 31 December 1993, it was reactivated on 3 September 2009 at Minot Air Force Base, and assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing. The squadron operates Boeing B-52H Stratofortress aircraft.

Minimum interval takeoff Military maneuver of the US Air Force

A minimum interval takeoff (MITO) is a technique of the United States Air Force for scrambling all available bomber and tanker aircraft at twelve- and fifteen-second intervals, respectively. Before takeoff, the aircraft perform an elephant walk to the runway. It is designed to maximize the number of aircraft launched in the least amount of time possible before the base suffers a nuclear strike, which would obliterate all remaining aircraft.

1950 Fairfield-Suisun Boeing B-29 crash

Northeast of San Francisco, California, on 5 August 1950, a United States Air Force Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber carrying a Mark 4 nuclear bomb crashed shortly after takeoff from Fairfield-Suisun Air Force Base with 20 men on board. Twelve men were killed in the crash, including the commander of the 9th Bombardment Wing, Brigadier General Robert F. Travis, and another seven were killed on the ground when the aircraft exploded. The base was later renamed for Travis.


  1. 1 2 3 Lavitt, Michael O. "B‑2 Crashes on Takeoff From Guam." Aviation Week, 23 February 2008. Archived 17 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  2. 1 2 "Moisture confused sensors in B‑2 crash", AirForceTimes, 6 June 2008. [ dead link ]
  3. Whitaker, Raymond (25 February 2008). "The Most Expensive Air Crash in History". Common Dreams. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  4. https://www.businessinsider.com/videos-b-2-stealth-bomber-crash-2018-2%3famp
  5. https://www.cnn.com/style/amp/b-2-spirit-stealth-bomber/index.html
  6. "Air Force: Moisture caused $1.4 billion bomber crash". CNN.com. 6 June 2008. Archived from the original on 10 June 2008. Retrieved 7 June 2008.
  7. "No munitions on board B‑2 that crashed", Air Force Times, 23 February 2008.
  8. 1 2 Air Combat Command, Accident Investigation Board, "Summary of Facts", "B-2A, S/N 89-0127, 20080223 KSZL501A"; link: AFD-080605-054 Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine , hosted by GlenPew.com
  9. "B-2 stealth bomber crashes on Guam". 23 February 2008. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  10. "B-2 pause", Air Force Times, February 2008.
  11. Linch, Stephen. "B-2s return to flight after safety pause", USAF, 21 April 2008. Archived 17 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  12. "Air Force: Sensor moisture caused 1st B-2 crash" , NBC News, 5 June 2008'
  13. Shachtman, Noah (6 June 2008). "Video: Stealth Bomber Crashes". Wired. Archived from the original on 14 October 2008.