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B-1 bomber crash blamed on crew

December 9, 1997
Web posted at: 10:23 p.m. EST (0323 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The fiery September 19 crash of a U.S. B-1 bomber in Montana that killed four crewmen was caused by pilot error, the Air Force said in a report released Tuesday.

But investigators could not determine which of two pilots was flying the supersonic, swing-wing bomber when it slammed into the ground on a training mission from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota.

Killed were Col. Anthony Beat, the pilot; Maj. Kirk Cakerice, an instructor pilot, and weapons officers Maj. Clay Culver and Capt. Gary Everett.

"The investigation board was unable to determine which pilot was flying the aircraft at the time of impact," said a statement by the Air Combat Command, based at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia.

The investigation report did conclude that the crew was performing "an authorized and often practiced defensive maneuver", whereby a crew evades a threat by slowing down and sharply turning.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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