Released: Dec 15, 1997
The aircraft had just completed its third pass during an air show flyover at Martin State Airport. The pilot was initiating his climb out for departure when he felt the aircraft shudder and the left wing broke off. The aircraft crashed into the residential area of Bowley's Quarters, Md., and caused extensive fire damage to several homes and vehicles. There were no fatalities or serious injuries.
The pilot, Maj. Bryan K. Knight, ejected and received only minor injuries.
The accident investigation report concluded that the cause of the accident was structural failure of a support assembly, known as the Brooklyn Bridge, in the left wing due to four missing fasteners of the 39 in the assembly. The Brooklyn Bridge assembly was apparently improperly reinstalled during a scheduled periodic inspection in Jan. 1996.
The entire fleet of 53 F-117 Nighthawks was inspected during a command-directed precautionary stand down and none were found to have the same defect. (Courtesy of ACC News Service)