A B-52 bomber being test-flown on Thursday after undergoing maintenance shed flaps from both of its wings on takeoff, according to officials at Tinker Air Force Base in OK. It was not specified if it was the inboard, outboard, or all of the flaps that separated from the airplane.
The Logistics Center at the base overhauls about a dozen of the long-serving bombers each year. They are stationed at Barksdale AFB in Louisiana and Minot AFB in North Dakota.
According to a report appearing in The Oklahoman, the flaps on both the port and starboard wings came off the airplane during takeoff on the test flight. The engineer who reported the incident to the paper did not wish to be named. Base spokesman Ron Mullan confirmed the incident, adding that "the pilot landed the aircraft safely." No one was injured, and base officials are reportedly "looking into" the incident.
According to the Air Force, the B-52A first flew in 1954, and the B model entered service in 1955. A total of 744 B-52s were built with the last, a B-52H, delivered in October 1962. The first of 102 B-52H's was delivered to Strategic Air Command in May 1961. The H model can carry up to 20 air launched cruise missiles. In addition, it can carry the conventional cruise missile that was launched in several contingencies during the 1990s, starting with Operation Desert Storm and culminating with Operation Iraqi Freedom.