South Dakota’s Ellsworth Air Force Base reopened its single runway Monday, a month after a nonfatal B-1B Lancer crash shut down flight operations.
Several B-1s temporarily relocated to Dyess Air Force Base, in Texas, in late January while investigators sought clues about what caused the Jan. 4 crash. Some of those jets returned to Ellsworth Monday, with the rest to follow throughout the week, 28th Bomb Wing spokesman Steve Merrill told Air Force Times.
The Air Force has not disclosed the number of conventional bombers that briefly moved to Dyess.
Flight operations at Ellsworth were halted Jan. 5, a day after a Lancer crashed along the runway as it returned from a training flight around 5:50 p.m. local time. Firefighters extinguished a blaze at the crash site.
All four of the bomber’s crew members safely ejected; one was taken to a local hospital for injuries. That airman has since been released and is expected to return to work soon, 28th Bomb Wing Commander Col. Derek Oakley said in an email.
An accident investigation is ongoing. The wrecked bomber — one of the Air Force’s fleet of 45 B-1s — has moved elsewhere on base while investigators continue to gather information on the mishap.
The Lancers moved to Dyess to continue their regular training while the inquiry got underway. On Friday, Ellsworth bombers that had moved to Dyess were among the aircraft that participated in an assault on more than 85 Iran-linked targets in Iraq and Syria in retaliation for a recent drone attack that killed three U.S. soldiers and wounded dozens of other troops.
Courtney Mabeus-Brown is the senior reporter at Air Force Times. She is an award-winning journalist who previously covered the military for Navy Times and The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., where she first set foot on an aircraft carrier. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy and more.
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