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Remember That Time The B-52 Lost Most of its Tail and Didn’t Crash?

Chalk this save up to the robust aircraft built by Boeing engineers.

On January 10th of 1964, pilot Chuck Fisher took off in a B-52 with a three-man Boeing crew. While flying over Colorado, he tried to climb the plane higher, hoping to find smoother air.

What he encountered was clear air turbulence, which caused the plane to lose its vertical stabilizer. Soon, another plane flew up to meet him, and visually report the damage to the controllers, where engineers began calculating the best way to safely land the plane. It was decided that the damaged B-52 would fly to Blytheville Air Force Base in northeastern Arkansas. Then, Boeing specialists from the emergency control center took off in a KC-135 to meet Fisher. They accompanied him to Blytheville, offering support from the air.

Despite the extensive damage, six hours later, the pilot managed to safely land the plane. “I’m very proud of this crew and this airplane,” Fisher said. “Also, we had a lot of people helping us, and we’re very thankful for that.”

About the B-52

The B-52, manufactured by Boeing, is a long range, subsonic, jet powered, strategic bomber. It can carry as much as 70,000 pounds of weaponry. The B-52 has been used by the United States Air Force (USAF) since the early 1950s. The aircraft took its maiden voyage in April of 1952. The B-52 is also known as the BUFF (Big Ugly Flying Fucker). Superior performance at top speeds, combined with low operating costs, have kept the B-52 model flying, despite the invention of newer, more advanced aircraft.


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