The U.S. Air Force is investigating what caused a jet engine to fall out of the sky and land in the middle of North Dakota this week.
In what officials call an "absolutely extraordinary" event, the engine came off a B-52 bomber that was on a training flight out of Minot Air Force Base on Wednesday, KFGO reports. The station says it ended up landing in a rural area about 25 miles northeast of base.
As for the plane itself, it was able to land safely. There were no injuries on the craft or on the ground.
Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James told the Forum News Service it looks like a "catastrophic failure" occurred in the lost engine, though finding the exact cause of what happened may take months. This is due partly to the fact that the equipment may have ended up at the bottom of a river.
James added that the plane's crew did a “magnificent job” in handling the emergency and getting safely back to base.
Should we be concerned about falling military equipment?
There have indeed been some high-profile – and deadly – military aviation accidents in recent years.
Last year, CNN reported that military officials had acknowledged a "growing rate of accidents," which cost the services billions of dollars, and many service members their lives.
The network says military leaders consider "slashed budgets and aging fleets strained by prolonged conflict" major reasons for the uptick in air crashes.
But military crashes involving civilians are pretty uncommon.
That's despite the midair collision of an F-16 and a private plane over South Carolina in October. In that incident, the Air Force pilot ejected safely, but the father and son flying the Cessna died.
Nonetheless, as Flying Magazine points out, military-civilian midair crashes are rare, with the previous one having taken place 10 years prior to the South Carolina incident.