In 1982 during maintenance procedures at Beale Air Force Base a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird fell on its right-wing due to a Stupid Mistake
The SR-71 #964 was going through a routine maintenance procedure at Beale Air Force Base.
Due to Technician’s Improper maintenance procedures and failure to follow Technical Data resulted in several million dollars in damage.
During maintenance, the landing gear was retracted without the gear pins installed. As a result, the SR-71 Blackbird ‘964 fell on its right wing and sustained Significant damage
Luckily all the technicians working on SR-71 #964 were unharmed.
During an initial inquiry, MSgt (Ret) Ben Raines was found guilty and he was later Court Marshaled but he was finally cleared and the findings were overturned by then General Davis (SAC/CC).
Related Article: When a Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker Exploded Due to a Stupid Mistake
In an email to sr71.com MSgt (Ret), Ben Raines shared his experience of that day:
I recall well the heads rolling when a sled rested on its wing when a landing gear was inadvertently raised during phase maintenance.
Wow…This brings back so many great memories. I was stationed at Beale right after Tech school in 1977.
I was assigned to the 9 FMS Hydraulic shop. Worked with some of the best hydraulic people in the career field like Wilkerson (Wilkie), MSgt Elliason, Frank Mosely, and Bobby Skinner, just to name only a few.
My time with the SR was from 1977 to 1983 and then from 1987 until the dark day of the SR’s retirement from service.
The rest of my career has been with the U-2 until my retirement in 2001. What a great 24 years with the U-2 and SR-71. Some of my fondest (and worst)
Beale Air Force Base (AFB) (IATA: BAB, ICAO: KBAB, FAA LID: BAB) is a United States Air Force base located approximately 8 miles (13 km) east of Marysville, California.
have been with the program.
For those who remember, yes, I’m the one who was Court Marshaled in 1982 when ‘964 fell on its right wing (my worst days in the program) but to clear the air, I was finally cleared and findings overturned by then-General Davis (SAC/CC).
I’m presently working for Lockheed Martin as a Tech Rep on the U-2s. I work with some of the old SR boys (Mike Burrow (CC) and Norb Budzinski (RSO)). Some days we’ll sit back and reminisce about the “Old Days”. Talk about all the Habu love bites.
Beale Air Force Base
Beale Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located approximately 8 miles (13 km) east of Marysville, California. The host unit at Beale is the 9th Reconnaissance Wing (9 RW) assigned to the Air Combat Command and part of the Twenty-Fifth Air Force.
Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird
The Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird” is a long-range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft that was developed as a black project from the Lockheed A-12 reconnaissance aircraft in the 1960s
The SR-71 served with the U.S. Air Force from 1964 to 1998. A total of 32 aircraft were built; 12 were lost in accidents with none lost to enemy action. The SR-71 has been given several nicknames, including “Blackbird” and “Habu”.
Image Credits: U.S. Air Force