50 years ago a B-52 lost its tail over New Mexico. But managed to land.

Jan 11 2014 - 3 Comments

On Jan. 10, 1964, a B-52H flown by Boeing civilian test pilot Chuck Fisher and his three man crew lost its tail at about 14,000 ft over northern New Mexico’s Sangre de Christo Mountains.

The aircraft was involved in a test mission whose purpose was to shake, rattle and roll the Stratofortress bomber at high speed and low altitude to record sensor data on how such a profile could affected the plane’s airframe.

The crew did their job: the vertical stabilizer detached from the B-52.

Six hours later, with support from the ground, Fisher successfully performed the first and only Stratofortress‘s tailless landing!

Image credit: U.S. Air Force


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  • FoilHatWearer

    I’ve actually seen some short video of this damaged jet flying and coming in for a landing. Pretty wild. There have been accounts of B-52s having the tail fail in heavy turbulence, the jet instantly became uncontrollable, and the crew had to bail out. I find it amazing that they brought this jet back with this kind of damage.

  • Fra

  • William Dix

    I found the USAF aircraft safety film on the accident on youtube be warned though that the audio unfortunately has a distinct buzz.