B-52 Stratofortress Bomber Loses Panel During New Orleans Flyover

A medical staff member from Overton Brooks V.A. Medical Center stands outside to watch two B-52H Stratofortress aircraft from Barksdale Air Force Base perform a flyover in honor of the medical community in Shreveport, La., April 24, 2020. the 2nd Bomb Wing flew over diffrent medical facilities throughout the cities in Monroe, Shreveport and Bossier City, La., to show appreciation for the hard work local community civilian medical practitioners have done during the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Lillian Miller)

A BUFF’s access panel felt onto a private property during salute to COVID-19 essential workers.

On Friday May 1, 2020, Barksdale Air Force Base and Louisiana Air National Guard pilots flew over medical facilities in New Orleans and Baton Rouge to express gratitude for all medical and healthcare professionals who are fighting against Covid-19. Two B-52 Stratofortress bombers, belonging to the 2nd Bomb Wing escorted by two F-15s belonging to the 159th Fighter Wing based at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La., took part in the flyover.

During the leg flown over New Orleans, one of the B-52s lost lost a panel that fell onto a private property. No one was injured.
The panel “was quickly recovered by Air Force personnel, in partnership with local authorities,” Capt. Chris Sullivan, public affairs chief for the 2nd Bomb Wing told Military Times. “A safety investigation will be conducted, as is the standard with these types of events.”

New Orleans and Baton Rouge residents watched the formation over their towns for 10 and 20 minutes. The flight was conducted as part of the America Strong flyovers carried out across the nations by U.S. Air Force aircraft as well as the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels display teams. According to the flying branch, the service performs almost 1,000 flyovers each year, to include air shows, national-level sporting events, and any event in support of a patriotic holiday. “Flyovers are fully functional training missions, designed to maintain the lethality and readiness of Air Force pilots and maintainers; they are conducted at no additional cost to taxpayers and are incorporated into existing flying schedules.”

The tentative flight pattern and times over New Orleans. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Senior Airman Lillian Miller)

Anyway, it’s not the first time a B-52 of the 2nd BW loses a part. At the end of October 2019, one of the four U.S. B-52 bombers deployed to RAF Fairford, UK, as part of Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1 lost a part that landed in a garden in Brailes, Warwickshire. The object, that did not hurt anybody, was later identified as a wing-tip gear door and was retrieved by 2nd Bomb Wing personnel, in partnership with the UK Ministry of Defense Police.

This is what this Author wrote about this kind of accidents:

Even though it’s not normal nor routine, military (as well as civil) aircraft, even those much younger than the +60-year old Buffs, may lose parts while flying: we have reported about a MiG-35 that lost a panel during MAKS on Aug. 30, 2019; same happened to an F-16 that lost an access panel in flight during the Friday, August 2 practice session for the 2019 Thunder Over Michigan airshow at Willow Run Airport in Romulus, Michigan; an A-10 that lost three practice bombs after a birdstrike in July 2019; an F-35 lost a panel near Okinawa in 2017; a U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extender belonging to the 60th Air Mobility Wing lost its flying boom that landed in hay-field on Nov. 1, 2016; etc. There are aircraft which lost targeting pods, others losing fuel tanks or even live missiles (as happened to an Italian F-104 during an Alert Scramble many years ago). It has always happened for some reason or another one. Fortunately, no one was hurt in most of these incidents. 


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.