Losses and Aviation Safety


The B-1 landed at Edwards AFB after an increasingly desperate 12-hour flight in which the crew struggled unsuccessfully to lower the landing gear in the plane’s nose

Taken at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB), Calif., on Oct. 4, 1989, the impressive photos in this post show B-1B Lancer from Dyess AFB performing a successful emergency landing on lakebed runway #33. The crew was uninjured and the bomber suffered only slight damage to the underside of the nose.

As reported on that day in New York Times article, the bomber landed at Edwards AFB after an increasingly desperate 12-hour flight in which the crew struggled unsuccessfully to lower the landing gear in the plane’s nose.

With its nose tilted upward, the plane landed on the main gear beneath its wings then rolled down the runway shortly after 6:15 P.M. Seconds later, the nose sank slowly onto the runway, kicking up a huge trail of dust as the bomber skidded to a stop.

The bomber took off from Dyess AFB at 8:38 A.M. to perform a routine training mission. Noteworthy the problem with the landing gear was discovered three hours later.

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. B-1B Lancer 28th FW, 34th BS Thunderbirds, EL/86-129 / 2005

After several hours of efforts to release the gear, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) ordered the crew to fly the plane to Edwards, 60 miles northeast of Los Angeles, where the Rogers Dry Lake bed provided a wide, long natural runway.

Even if at the time officials of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) which operated the bomber fleet, said there had been no prior problems with landing gears, the incident was one of the many problems that plagued the bomber since it went into development in the early 1970’s. In fact three of the 100 planes delivered to USAF by its manufacturer, the Rockwell International Corporation, crashed since the plane went into service in 1985. The plane has also been hampered by fuel leaks, mechanical problems with its variable-geometry wings and shortcomings with its sophisticated defensive systems.

Photo credit: Edwards History Office file photo / U.S. Air Force

Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com

Gabriele Barison

Gabriele Barison is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Co-Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. He has flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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