[This story has been updated since it was first posted Wednesday. - Ed.]
An aborted takeoff that went wrong wrecked a B-52H Stratofortress in a May 19, 2016, accident at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, Global Strike Command said in a Wednesday release.
An accident investigation board found that the accident began when the pilot of the B-52 — which was assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing's 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron — saw birds ahead at wing level as the plane was conducting a "high-speed, heavy-weight" takeoff during a routine training mission. The co-pilot then heard and felt a " 'couple of thuds' that sounded like something hitting the aircraft," the report said.
The pilot and co-pilot then saw three of the plane's four engines on the right wing "quickly spooling back" and losing thrust necessary to safely get off the ground. The oil pressure spiked on the wing's fourth engine — which suggested to the pilot that it was also about to fail — and the plane experienced a "noticeable left-to-right yawing motion," according to the report.
The pilot began to abort the takeoff and applied the brakes, while the co-pilot deployed the drag chute, which failed to inflate properly. With 2,500 feet left in the runway, the pilot shut off the outboard engines, announced that the plane was going to "depart the prepared surface" of the runway, and then shut off the inboard engines. It skidded off the runway at about 8:32 a.m. local time, shearing off the main landing gear, and came to a rest about 300 feet from the runway. The B-52 then caught on fire. The crew conducted an emergency shutdown and left the plane through a hatch.
The accident investigation board found that the bird activity and subsequent loss of engine thrust led to the accident. The failure of the drag chute and the brakes also substantially contributed to the accident.
Global Strike Command on Thursday provided the full report to Air Force Times, and said it will be also posted on the Air Force's eFOIA reading room.
The airplane "sustained total damage," costing the Air Force $112 million. Another $1.5 million in damage was caused to airfield instrument and approach lighting. The crew was treated for minor injuries sustained while exiting the crashed plane on the ground, but there were no fatalities or damage to private property.
In a release published the day of the crash, Andersen Air Force Base officials said the B-52 was carrying inert munitions.
Global Strike Command said the plane was deployed from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota as part of the Continuous Bomber Presence mission.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.