It happens so often, it’s almost routine. A plane tries to take a target on the ground and moves to drop its bombs. The bombs then leave the plane, make their way to the ground, and detonate the target to smithereens. This is how it should work, and it works.
Unless that’s not the case. The point is, even routine operations can be risky. Air-to-air refueling is one of those – and this has seen its share of close calls where things have gone wrong.
The act of dropping bombs on the target also has its dangers. A series of highly iconic WWII photos show a United States Air Force B-17 hit by a bomb dropped by another B-17, ripping off its stabilizer. No member of the crew of this B-17 came out.
But these are not the only cases. When you drop millions of bombs, sometimes things go wrong. This is especially likely when you have a new plane or a new bomb. To avoid this, the Air Force had an entire office at Elgin Air Force Base, known as SEEK EAGLE, to certify the means of transport and drop off various external stores.
The video below shows some of those close-up calls, where the bombs and external fuel tanks don’t do what one would expect in the routine action of dropping the tanks or bombs. Some of them are spectacular, like the clip showing an F-111 Aardvark dropping what appears to be a fuel tank. Other scenes show the weapons hitting the planes as they headed down, or missing them by a few inches.
Think of this video as yet another reminder that even in peacetime the risks are very great for those who defend their country.
This article was written by Harold C. Hutchison and originally published on WE ARE THE MIGHTY.