B-1B Suffers Landing Accident in South Dakota

The crew of four ejected safely at Ellsworth Air Force Base.

A 34th Bomb Squadron B-1B Lancer takes off from Ellsworth Air Force Base. [Photo: U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Hailey Staker]

Officials from the U.S. Air Force are investigating the crash of a B-1B Lancer assigned to the 28th Bomb Wing based at Ellsworth Air Base in South Dakota. According to a statement from the 28th Bomb Wing public affairs office, the accident occurred Thursday at 5:50 p.m. CST during a training mission at Ellsworth.

"The B-1B crashed while attempting to land," the statement read. "All four members of the crew were able to eject safely. Three of the aircrew were treated on base for minor injuries and released, and one airman [is] currently being treated at a local hospital for non-life-threatening injuries."

At the time of the accident, the automated weather reporting equipment at the airfield indicated poor visibility with low clouds and freezing temperatures.

The Air Force is in charge of the investigation.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the aircrew and their families as they recover from this event,” said Colonel Derek Oakley, 28th Bomb Wing commander. "It is important that we support each other as we work to learn more about what occurred.”

About the B-1B

According to the Air Force, the B-1A was developed in the 1970s as a replacement for the B-52. Designed as a multimission platform, the B-1B entered use in the 1980s. Though it was first designed to carry nuclear as well as conventional weapons, in 1994 the military removed the B-1B—dubbed the Lancer—from nuclear operations, although it was still considered a heavy bomber suitable for nuclear armament until 2007.

The B-1B was built by Rockwell International/North American Aircraft, now Boeing.

Though 100 of the aircraft were originally built, only about 60 remain. In addition to Ellsworth, there are B-1 bombers in service at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas.

The aircraft was first used in combat in 1998 in support of Operation Desert Fox in Iraq.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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