Black Hills Aviation v United States

Project Info

Black Hills Aviation v United States

On September 10, 1987, a civilian aircraft crashed on the White Sands Missile Test Site in White Sands, NM. The aircraft was referred to as Tanker 07, owned by Black Hills Aviation, crashed while performing a contract air fire suppression support mission on the White Sands Base. The plane crashed into a mountain in the Red Rio/Oscura area of the missle base. This area was also the testing site for the evaluation of the Army’s Liine of Sight Forward Heavy Missle phase of the Forward Area Air Defense System (FAADS) Project.

A team of aircraft accident investigators, including explosive experts from RTI, conducted an analysis of the crash debris displayed here. The experts found evidence that an airborne external force had affected Tanker 07 prior to the aircraft’s impact to the ground.

However, the district court concluded there was no basis that any external force was under the exclusive control of the United States, particularly no accidental missle firings or other military activities at the time of Tanker 07's crash.


  • Aviation
  • Fire, Explosion & Blast
  • Visual Media