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Missing fasteners identified as cause of F-117 crash

F-117 Stealth fighter
F-117 Stealth Fighter   
Video of the crash
video icon 1.4M/29 sec./160x120
QuickTime movie
December 12, 1997
Web posted at: 1:54 p.m. EST (1854 GMT)

MIDDLE RIVER, Maryland (CNN) -- An incorrectly installed part caused the crash of an F-117 stealth fighter at an air show near Baltimore on September 14, the Air Force said Friday.

The F-117's wing sheared off as the plane was flying over the show at Martin State Airport, and the plane crashed into a residential area, extensively damaging several homes. No one on the ground was hurt and the pilot, Maj. Bryan Knight, escaped with minor injuries after ejecting from the aircraft.

A monthlong Air Force investigation found that four of 39 fasteners for the wing's structural support assembly were apparently left off when the wings were removed and reinstalled in January 1996, according to a report released Friday.

Two other maintenance checks, including one prompted by a pilot's complaint about too much "flex" in the left wing, failed to detect the problem, the report said.

The Air Force has inspected the entire fleet of F-117s and found no other fighters with the same problem, the report said.


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