On This Day – B-2 Spirit Bomber Crashes in Guam


On this day in 2008, the Spirit of Kansas, a B-2 Spirit stealth heavy bomber crashed on the runway shortly after take-off from Anderson Air Force Base in Guam. Having logged 5,100 flight hours, it was the first ever crash of a B-2 plane. The two-officer crew attempted to save the bomber, but as one of its wings began to hook the ground, they ejected from the aircraft and survived the crash. The aircraft was destroyed, a total loss estimated at US$1.4 billion, making it the most expensive air crash in human history.

The findings of the investigation stated that the B-2 crashed after heavy, lashing rains caused water to enter skin-flush air-data sensors. The data from the sensors are used to calculate numerous factors including airspeed, altitude, and attitude. 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 12 knots slower than indicated.