U.S. Air Force grounds F-117 fleet after accident
September 15, 1997
Web posted at: 11:55 a.m. EDT (1555 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Air Force on Monday grounded its
fleet of 53 F-117 stealth fighters in the wake of Sunday's
crash during an air show near a marina in Middle River, Maryland.
An Air Force spokesman said the order was a precautionary
measure that would give the Air Force and the plane's
manufacturer time to make sure the single-seat jet was safe
The grounding was expected to last at least for one day.
No one, including the pilot, was seriously hurt when the $45
million plane crashed about a quarter mile away from
Maryland's Glen Martin State airport. Two houses were set
ablaze and six people were slightly wounded.
Amateur video showed a piece of the aircraft, apparently from
the tail or a wing, flying off before the wedge-shaped jet
went into a slow spin and crashed a mile from 12,000 viewers
at the Chesapeake Air Show.
Pilot Maj. Bryan Knight, who ejected at the last moment, was
treated at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland for minor back
and neck injuries. Knight is an instructor pilot with more
than 2,770 flying hours, including 500 in the F-117A.
On Monday, about 150 police, fire and military officials
searched for debris and clues of the crash. The Coast Guard
was also searching for debris in a creek near the airport.
|Maryland Air National Guard Capt. Drew Sullins praises the
128K/12 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
The Air Force was waiting for analysis of the flight data
recorder, which was found soon after the crash.
The F-117 made its name in the Gulf War, where its pioneering
radar-evading design allowed it to strike heavily defended
targets in Baghdad. No F-117s were lost in the Gulf War but
five others did crash before, most of them at a time when the
plane was still super-secret.
Military Affairs Correspondent Jamie McIntyre