Andersen Air Force base in Guam saw the very first crash of a stealth B-2 aircraft – the Spirit of Kansas on 23 Feb 2008

Footage shows the aircraft speeding down the runway and starting to gain some altitude. The wing soon hits the ground and bursts, after which the aircraft slams against the runway in a cloud of smoke and flames. The crew ejected safely, but it was one of the most expensive plane crashes in history.

The billion-dollar aircraft was taking off with three others on their last flight out of Guam after a four-month deployment, part of a continuous U.S. bomber presence in the western Pacific. After the crash, the other three bombers were being kept on Guam, said Maj. Eric Hilliard at Hickham Air Force Base in Hawaii. There are only 21 B-2 stealth bombers in existence (20 now). The final report into the crash of a B-2 Spirit bomber belonging to the United States Air Force (USAF) in Guam has determined that the crash was caused by moisture on sensors which caused the jet to receive inaccurate data. It was the first loss of a B-2, which costs US$1.4 billion (in the top 10 mishaps of all time).

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.

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. The B‑2 fleet returned to flight status on 15 April 2008.

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 had been improperly calibrated by the maintenance crew 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.

Sources: YouTube; Wikipedia

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