Videos of Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk Crash at Chesapeake Air Show

On Sept. 14, 1997, at about 3 p.m. F-117A #81-793 with approximately 11,000 pounds of fuel aboard crashed into A house about 100 feet from the water of the Chesapeake Bay, near the Glenn Martin State Airport near Middle River, Md., about 13 miles east of Baltimore.

It was making its third and final pass of the airfield at the Chesapeake Air Show in front of 12,000 people and was preparing to return to its base when the crash occurred.

 

First, the pilot did a straight and level pass at 400 knots and 500 feet. Next, a straight and level pass at 300 knots and 500 feet to give those attending the airshow a better look at the F-117A Nighthawk.

The final pass was a 45-degree arcing pass at 380 knots and 600-700 feet, providing a plan-form view of the aircraft, optimum for pictures.

The aircraft was being piloted by Maj. Bryan Knight, who safely ejected and was taken to Malcolm Grow Medical Center at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., for treatment of minor injuries to his neck and back and for observation. He was released the next day.

 

The aircraft had started the 15-deg. climb from the 380 kt. flyby at 600-700 ft. when the left outboard elevon made several large deflections up and down. The oscillations deflected the left wing, which broke off 2.5 ft. inboard of the elevon.

The aircraft rolled 90 degrees left within 0.8 seconds, then sharply pitched to a high angle of attack.

 

A second later, the main landing gear was visible in the down position, probably due to the high loads or loss of hydraulic pressure. Under 3 seconds elapsed from the start of large elevon oscillations to the gear being down. After the F-117A pitched to the high angle of attack, it appeared unstable and out of control.

The aircraft began to tumble, the pilot ejected, and the plane hit the ground in a fireball and large cloud of black smoke about 5 seconds after the ejection about one mile from the threshold of Runway 33 at Martin State, slightly south of the runway’s extended centerline.

 

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