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Airplanes are expensive. No surprise there. But some aircraft, especially complicated military aircraft are so pricey that they shatter records when they crash. That’s the case with the Andersen Air Force Base incident involving a B-2 Spirt, also known as the “stealth bomber.” The crash involved just two aviators and cost the United States Government $1.4 billion. It was the most expensive airplane crash ever.

The 2008 ‘Spirit of Kansas’ B-2 Spirit stealth bomber incident was the most expensive airplane crash ever

The Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit stealth bomber is an eye-opening implement in the United States military arsenal. As a strategic bomber with stealth capability, the “flying wing” can penetrate anti-aircraft defenses and deliver a payload without alerting enemy forces to its presence. And as you might imagine, the B-2 busts budgets as well as it busts targets.

As such, any incident involving a B-2 bomber is newsworthy. In 2008, two United States Air Force (USAF) aviators took off from Andersen Air Force Base (AFB) in Guam aboard a stealth bomber on a flight plan to Whiteman AFB in Missouri. 

A B-2 Spirit stealth bomber in flight.
A B-2 Spirit | Gary Ell via iStock

Unfortunately, shortly after takeoff, the aviators contended with failing Port Transducer Units (PTUs) feeding false information to the aircraft’s air data system, per The Aviation Geek Club. As a result of the moisture in the B-2’s PTUs, the air data system prompted the flight control computers to factor inaccurate airspeed and angle. Consequently, the B-2 stealth bomber’s wing contacted the Earth, leading to a crash. Check out a video of the incident below!

Fortunately, the two aviators ejected safely with minimal injury. However, the “Spirit of Kansas” was no more. Despite the unharmed servicemembers, the crash claimed the 12th of the country’s stealth bombers. According to War History Online, the cost of the incident was around $1.4 billion. Yes, with a “B.” As a result, the 2008 incident was the most expensive airplane crash ever.