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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 21780
Last updated: 7 December 2021
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Time:09:45 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic B52 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing B-52H-155-BW Stratofortress
Owner/operator:2nd BWg USAF (2nd Bomb Wingg United States Air Force)
Registration: 60-0053
MSN: 464418
Fatalities:Fatalities: 6 / Occupants: 6
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:30 miles northwest of Apra Harbor, Guam -   Guam
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Guam/Andersen AFB (PGUA)
Destination airport:Guam/Andersen AFB (PGUA)
Crashed into the Pacific Ocean on July 21 2008 after had been making a swing around the island from Andersen Air Force Base for a celebratory fly-over of another part of the island as part of Guam Liberation Day celebrations. It crashed 15 muinutes before the parade should start. B-52H-155 from 96th BS / 20BW tailcode LA (call Raider 21) Crew of six; two from 96BS, three from 20th BG, and one from 36th MG (AAFB)

Malfunctioning parts and late recognition of spiraling problems likely led to the fatal crash of a B-52H Stratofortress in July, an Air Force accident investigation board concluded in a report issued Feb. 13.

The July 21 crash off the coast of Guam killed all six airmen onboard.

The problem parts, investigators decided, were the bomber’s rear stabilizers — the large horizontal fins at the jet’s tail that help angle the B-52H up or down.

Although the inquiry could not determine what led to the stabilizer problem, the board said it believed the stabilizers malfunctioned while the bomber was in a fast descent from 14 000 feet to 1 000 feet.

“Even an experienced aircrew could have found it difficult to recognize, assess and recover from the very rapidly developing situation involving the rear stabilizer trim,” board president Brig. Gen. Mark Barrett concluded.

The bomber did not carry a flight data recorder, so the investigation team pieced together events leading up to the crash from air traffic control radar information and from parts recovered from the ocean floor by remote-controlled Navy submarines.

One recovered part was a component called a jackscrew that helps control the stabilizers. The jackscrew revealed the stabilizer trim was set at 4.5 to 5 degrees nose down, but parts that could have helped determine why the stabilizers were pointed down were not recovered.

Based on flight simulations, the investigative team determined the flight was normal until the jet turned left and began to descend about 33 miles west of Guam.

As the 48-year-old bomber dove toward the Pacific at a speed of more than 240 mph, the stabilizers suddenly unhinged, putting the jet into a dive with the nose pointed down 30 degrees and more.

One of the pilots likely tried to level the stabilizers manually using a control wheel in the cockpit that moves the stabilizer 1 degree every two to three seconds, the report said. However, because the plane was already low, there wasn’t enough time to level the stabilizers.

At least three crew members tried to bail out seconds before the plane hit the water, but the plane’s speed, altitude and angle already were past the point where they could survive the ejection.

Lost in the crash were pilot Maj. Chris Cooper, 33; co-pilot Capt. Michael Dodson, 31; electronic warfare officer 1st Lt. Robert Gerren, 32; navigator 1st Lt. Joshua Shepherd, 26; radar navigator Maj. Brent Williams, 37; and flight surgeon Col. George Martin, 51. All were deployed to Guam from the 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale Air Force Base, La., except for Martin, who was assigned to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.



Photo of 60-0053 courtesy

Fairford (EGVA / FFD)
17 July 2002; (c) Alistair Bridges

Revision history:

21-Jul-2008 00:57 Bleiente Added
23-Jul-2008 12:06 Fusko Updated
26-Jul-2008 12:02 78Delta Updated
13-Sep-2012 02:12 whiteshark Updated [Time, Narrative]
12-Feb-2013 18:25 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Source, Embed code, Narrative]
20-Aug-2013 12:32 Uli Elch Updated [Location, Departure airport, Destination airport]
03-Feb-2019 07:49 wf Updated [Aircraft type]
21-Dec-2019 09:31 Nepa Updated [Operator, Operator]
27-Feb-2021 16:09 Anon. Updated [Operator, Operator]

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