A recent spate of fatal crashes involving Air Force aircraft has moved the Air Force Chief of Staff to order a one-day stand-down for all flying and maintenance squadrons.
The day-long pause will be devoted to discussing safety.
Jim Olson reports how the move will impact Minot Air Force Base.
Last month, a pilot for the Air Force’s elite Thunderbirds was killed in a crash during training in Nevada.
In March, seven airmen died when the helicopter they were in went down in Iraq.
Now this week, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force has ordered every flying and maintenance squadron in the Air Force to cease flying operations for one day.
(Lt.Col. Jamie Humphries, 5th Bomb Wing Public Affairs) “We’re going to take a day and focus squarely on safety and have an open dialogue.”
At Minot Air Force Base, the stand down involves the two squadrons of B-52 bombers that are housed here, the squadron of helicopters used to secure missile installations around the base, and several maintenance groups.
(Lt.Col. Jamie Humphries, 5th Bomb Wing Public Affairs) “We’re always focused on it but this allows us to really sit down with our airmen and talk to them about things that are preventable that maybe we’re not focused on as much as we need to be.”
The local base is no stranger to incidents with its aircraft. In January last year, one of the eight engines on a Minot-based B-52 fell to the ground, the crew was able to safely land. And in 2016, the crew of a Minot-based B-52 was able to scramble to safety after bird strikes forced an aborted takeoff and the plane burned up.
Colonel Humphries says the incidents prove that what the Air Force does is inherently dangerous.
(Lt.Col. Jamie Humphries, 5th Bomb Wing Public Affairs) “Safety has to be our focus. We cannot afford to lost an airman or aircraft.”
That’s why, one day soon, you won’t be seeing any B-52s flying in the region. They’ll be grounded in hopes of heading off future accidents.
Jim Olson, KX News.
The date for the safety stand down at Minot Air Force Base has not been set, but must be done by May 21st.