This WWII-era flying wing crashed in a California prison yard after doing a 'barrel roll,' according to the NTSB

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The last remaining Northrop N-9M flying wing at the Chino Air Show in 2014. (Wikimedia Commons/Tim Felce)

The historic Northrop N-9M flying wing that crashed in a Norco, California prison yard in late April apparently executed a "barrel roll" before plummeting to the ground, according to the National Transportation Safety Board's preliminary report.


One of four flying wings originally built in 1944 as test aircraft in support of the XB-35 and YB-35 experimental bombers developed for the U.S. Army Air Forces, the ultra-rare N-9M crashed at the California Rehabilitation Center on April 22nd, killing pilot David Vopat.

Moments before the crash, multiple witnesses "reported observing the airplane flying on a north eastern heading at a low altitude when it performed a 'barrel roll,'" according to the NTSB report.

"Several witnesses reported that after the maneuver, the airplane 'wobbled [from] side to side' before the airplane's canopy separated. Shortly after, the airplane entered a steep right turn, and descended into the ground in a nose low attitude."

The loss of Vopat and the N-9M is both heartbreaking and tragically unsurprising given the flying wing's inherent stability problems. But The War Zone's Tyler Rogoway smartly observes, there remains some uncertainty as to whether the "maneuver" observed by ground-based bystanders was actually an intentional barrel roll or evidence of another problem:

I have never heard of the N-9M, an antique that was built in the 1940s, doing barrel rolls at air shows, although that is based on seeing the performance myself and watching videos of it in the past. Such a maneuver in that airframe sounds excessively risky, especially if it hadn't been a staple maneuver that had been repeated many times over at altitude and cleared for air show routines in the past. The low altitude environment that the aircraft was flying in the time of the crash would have offered nearly zero chance of a safe recovery after a departure from controlled flight.

What we don't know for certain at this time is if the maneuver was intentional or if some unknown circumstance caused a maneuver similar to a barrel roll before the aircraft departed completely from controlled flight.

Either way, the vintage N-9M's destruction is a tragedy itself: the spiritual ancestor of the B-2 Spirit, it was the last of its kind.

SEE ALSO: World War II-Era Plane Crash-Lands Onto California Highway

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Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher will retire as a chief petty officer now that President Donald Trump has restored his rank.

"Before the prosecution of Special Warfare Operator First Class Edward Gallagher, he had been selected for promotion to Senior Chief, awarded a Bronze Star with a "V" for valor, and assigned to an important position in the Navy as an instructor," a White House statement said.

"Though ultimately acquitted on all of the most serious charges, he was stripped of these honors as he awaited his trial and its outcome. Given his service to our Nation, a promotion back to the rank and pay grade of Chief Petty Officer is justified."

The announcement that Gallagher is once again an E-7 effectively nullifies the Navy's entire effort to prosecute Gallagher for allegedly committing war crimes. It is also the culmination of Trump's support for the SEAL throughout the legal process.

On July 2, military jurors found Gallagher not guilty of premeditated murder and attempted murder for allegedly stabbing a wounded ISIS fighter to death and opening fire at an old man and a young girl on separate occasions during his 2017 deployment to Iraq.

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Maj. Matthew Golsteyn in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of Philip Stackhouse.)

President Donald Trump has ended the decade-long saga of Maj. Matthew Golsteyn by ordering a murder charge against the former Green Beret dismissed with a full pardon.

The Army charged Golsteyn with murder in December 2018 after he repeatedly acknowledged that he killed an unarmed Afghan man in 2010. Golsteyn's charge sheet identifies the man as "Rasoul."

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(Screenshot from 'Leavenworth')

President Donald Trump has signed a full pardon for former 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, who had been convicted of murder for ordering his soldiers to open fire on three unarmed Afghan men, two of whom were killed.

Lorance will now be released from the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he had been serving a 19-year sentence.

"He has served more than six years of a 19-year sentence he received. Many Americans have sought executive clemency for Lorance, including 124,000 people who have signed a petition to the White House, as well as several members of Congress," said a White House statement released Friday.

"The President, as Commander-in-Chief, is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the law is enforced and when appropriate, that mercy is granted. For more than two hundred years, presidents have used their authority to offer second chances to deserving individuals, including those in uniform who have served our country. These actions are in keeping with this long history. As the President has stated, 'when our soldiers have to fight for our country, I want to give them the confidence to fight.'"

Additionally, Trump pardoned Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, who was to go on trial for murder charges next year, and restored the rank of Navy SEAL Chief Edward Gallagher, who was found not guilty of murdering a wounded ISIS prisoner but convicted of taking an unauthorized photo with the corpse.

Fox News contributor Pete Hegseth first announced on Nov. 4 that the president was expected to intervene in the Lorance case was well as exonerate Army Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, who has been charged with murder after he admitted to killing an unarmed Afghan man whom he believed was a Taliban bomb maker, and restore Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher's rank to E-7.

For the past week, members of Lorance's family and his legal team have been holding a constant vigil in Kansas anticipating his release, said Lorance's attorney Don Brown.

Now that he has been exonerated of committing a war crime, Lorance wants to return to active duty, Brown told Task & Purpose on Wednesday.

"He loves the Army," Brown said prior to the president's announcement. "He doesn't have any animosity. He's hoping that his case – and even his time at Leavenworth – can be used for good to deal with some issues regarding rules of engagement on a permanent basis so that our warfighters are better protected, so that we have stronger presumptions favoring warfighters and they aren't treated like criminals on the South Side of Chicago."

In the Starz documentary "Leavenworth," Lorance's platoon members discuss the series of events that took place on July 2, 2012, when the two Afghan men were killed during a patrol in Kandahar province.They claim that Lorance ordered one of his soldiers to fire at three Afghan men riding a motorcycle. The three men got off their motorcycle and started walking toward Afghan troops, who ordered them to return to their motorcycle.

At that point, Lorance ordered the turret gunner on a nearby Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle to shoot the three men, according to the documentary. That order was initially ignored, but the turret gunner eventually opened fire with his M-240, killing two of the men.

But Lorance told the documentary makers that his former soldiers' account of what happened was "ill-informed."

"From my experience of what actually went down, when my guy fired at it, and it kept coming, that signified hostile intent, because he didn't stop immediately," Lorance said in the documentary's second episode.

Brown argues that not only is Lorance innocent of murder, he should never have been prosecuted in the first case.

"He made a call and when you look at the evidence itself, the call was made within a matter of seconds," Brown said "He would make that call again."

The new Call of Duty Modern Warfare takes gaming to a new level. In fact, it's the best damn video game of 2019 (in my humble opinion).

You can watch video of the awesome gameplay for CoD above, and make sure to follow the Task & Purpose team on Twitch here.

This post was sponsored by GoatGuns.Com. Use the code TP15 for 15% off your next order.

A new trailer just dropped for the upcoming World War I action flick The Great War.

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