Wheels-up belly landing at Diego Garcia

B-1 makes hard landing

Any landing that you can run away in terror from…:

A B-1B Lancer made a wheels-up belly landing at Diego Garcia Monday, skidding down the runway for 7,500 feet, according to Air Force reports. The four-person aircrew escaped from the plane. The B-1B was home based with the 7th Bomb Wing, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.

The 20-year-old bomber was landing at Diego Garcia, a remote base in the Indian Ocean, at the end of a ferry mission that started at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. The Air Force won’t say why the crew landed the plane with its landing gear retracted.

The plane caught fire but it was put out by emergency crews.


  1. Pictures! We must have pictures. This has got to be one of the largest bombers to land wheels-up in quite a while. From the article:The Air Force won’t say why the crew landed the plane with its landing gear retracted. Certainly the B-1 has provisions for ejection seats, but doing so would have resulted in a complete loss rather than having the option of repairing or salvaging useful parts. If the pilots thought that it was a reasonable option, they’ve just saved the American taxpayer a couple hundred million dollars.

  2. I don’t know where the quote is from, but it seems like typical media coverage of the military. ‘The Air Force won’t say …’ Won’t say? Or won’t speculate before the investigation is complete?

  3. I can tell you why it landed with the wheels up, it is because they would not come down… duh

  4. Comrades, Except that, from time to time, pilots FORGET to put the wheels down. Even on very expensive airplanes….. I know, because I was on a crew whose pilot almost made that very same mistake. In fact, a resrve crew did just that the following month. they came into Jax wheels up (their 5th or 6th crash and dash of the day) and the first time they realized they had a problem was when they heard the prop tips pinging off the asphalt….. Lovely. Of course, folks are right to criticise the media. It’s always best to wait for the accident investigation team to make a statement regarding cause before jumping to conclusions. Respects, Gwedd

  5. Gwedd, Of course it could be pilot error. In fact, that’s why the quote bothered me so much. Clearly the implication of the quote was that the Air Force was covering up human error somewhere in the chain of events. When the government ‘won’t’ answer a question, the implication is that it knows the answer, but is embarrassed to say it. The only reason to be embarrassed about such an incident is if someone did something wrong — pilot error, maintenance error, design error, etc. There would be no reason to hide anything if the incident was caused by a rare mechanical failure.

  6. I disagree with Chuck’s comments. I’ve been in the AF for over 20 years and have investigated numerous mishaps. Not once have I covered up or been asked to cover up any cause of a mishap. An experienced team will investigate this mishap and publish a report with their findings. The main objective of this safety investigation will be to prevent future mishaps. If Chuck waits, sometime in the next couple of months a report will be released listing the cause or causes of this mishap. Until then, let’s not ask the ‘government’ to play armchair lawyer– give them time to complete a thorough investigation so the truth can be determined. We need to find out the real cause to prevent it from happening again.

  7. Sounds like an intelligent reason to me, Mike. Can’t be going off half-assed, and whether people like it or not, sometimes the answers aren’t as obvious, or as quickly forthcoming as we might think. :o) Trinity Hall

  8. BDR, I didn’t realize you were clairvoyant! There are many reasons why wheels up landings occur–only ONE of which is ‘because they would not come down… duh’. This sort of idiotic statement is why people get in trouble. You don’t know what you’re talking about…so keep it to yourself. Wait until the accident report is published. I have my own opinion about the accident…but am keeping my mouth shut. What if I’m wrong? In any case, it doesn’t matter WHY the wheels weren’t lowered. It only matters whether or not the aircraft can be repaired, and at what cost. I’m just glad the crew made it safely.

  9. B-1s are not designed to survive a belly up landing. If the gear fail to extend, the crew’s action is to bail out. Hmmmm!

  10. When I was an ATC each clearance to land included the phraseology: (Example) ‘Wind 180 at 15 knots. Check gear down and locked. Cleared to land Runway 17 Left.’ They used to have binoculars in the Control Towers with which the controllers would routinely visually check each aircraft’s landing gear while it was on final approach. Some ATC missed a great chance to get a MAJOR ‘SAVE’ THIS time! …ah, the good old days!

  11. Mike, I’m not saying someone did anything wrong. I’m saying the reporter who wrote that quote was implying someone did something wrong, by writing the AF ‘won’t’ say what happened, instead of writing the AF hasn’t completed its investigation. I was objecting to the implication that the AF’s silence on the topic is tantamount to keeping something quiet.