Fairchild AFB, B-52 crash


Date 24 June 1994.
Site Fairchild AFB, USA.
Passengers/Crew 0/4
Fatalities (Pax/Crew/Ground) 0/4/0
Aircraft type Boeing B-52H (named: Czar 52)
Route airshow practice flight. [1]


This crash occurred on June 24, 1994 at the Fairchild air force base (AFB) in Washington, U.S.A. during a practice airshow flight.

After completing all the aerial maneuvers successfully, the crew lined the aircraft up for a touch and go landing, but were asked to go around by the control tower.

At this time Bud Holland (PIC) attempted a 360 degree turn, around the control tower, from the mid-point of the runway at an altitude of 250 ft.

Three-quarters of the way into the turn, the aircraft went past 90 degrees angle of bank.
The pilots then lost control of the plane and it crashed into the ground, killing all 4 crew members.

Details of accident

The flight crew was comprised of two pilots, Arthur "Bud" Holland and Mark McGeehan, a radar navigator: Ken Huston and the safety observer: Robert Wolff. This was to be Robert Wolff's "fini-flight" i.e. the ceremonial final flight of a USAF crew member before he/she retires.

The behavior and the past records of the flight crew was put under the microscope after the accident.
Commander Bud Holland, the PIC of the plane, was known to behave in an anti-authoritative, macho, invulnerable and impulsive way. These hazardous attitudes affected his aeronautical decision making and eventually led to the crash. Holland was know to attempt risky maneuvers such as flying turns at unsafe bank angles, flying at altitudes below established minimum safe altitudes and violating several other safety regulations.

It was found that when the plane entered the accelerated/turning flight stall, the airspeed of the plane reduced from 182 knots to 145 knots without any appropriate corrective actions being taken by the flight crew. The situation was exacerbated by the fact that the aircraft was at 250 ft and didn't have sufficient altitude to recover.

Another factor that needs to be accounted for is that neither McGeehan, nor Wolff tried to intervene during the event. All of the aircrew involved in the crash also had limited flying time in the months before the crash.

Impact of accident on aviation

Today, this crash is used as an example in both civil and military aviation to show how hazardous attitudes can cloud decision making and airman-ship. It is a very popular case study in crew resource management and is widely used as an example to show how non-compliance with safety regulations and unsafe pilot behavior can lead to preventable accidents.

(Picture embedded from Wikipedia on September 22 2009)

This video shows the entire flight and the crash at the end.

(Video embedded from Youtube on September 22 2009)
1. WIKIPEDIA (2010). 1994 Fairchild Air Force Base B-52 crash. Retrieved from wikipedia on 4 October 2010.
2. Check-Six.com (2009). The Crash of 'Czar 52'. Retrieved from check-six on September 22, 2009.
3. HistoryLink.org (2009). U.S. Air Force B-52 crashes at Fairchild Air Force Base. Retrieved from historylink on September 22, 2009.

Want to know more?

The Fairchild AFB crash page at Wikipedia, provides detailed information on the crash.

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