1961 Yuba City B-52 crash

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Yuba City B-52 Crash
Accident summary
Date 14 March 1961 (1961-03-14)
Summary Uncontrolled decompression; fuel starvation
Site Sutter County, 15 mi (24 km) west of Yuba City, California
39°07′00″N 121°53′00″W / 39.1167°N 121.8833°W / 39.1167; -121.8833 (1961 Yuba City B-52 crash)Coordinates: 39°07′00″N 121°53′00″W / 39.1167°N 121.8833°W / 39.1167; -121.8833 (1961 Yuba City B-52 crash)
Crew 8
Fatalities 0
Survivors 8 (all)
Aircraft type Boeing B-52F Stratofortress
Operator Strategic Air Command, United States Air Force
Registration 57-0166
Flight origin

Mather Air Force Base

1961 Yuba City B-52 crash is located in California
Crash site
Crash site
Yuba City
Yuba City
Crash site in California

On 14 March 1961 an aircraft accident occurred near Yuba City, California. A United States Air Force B-52F-70-BW Stratofortress bomber, AF Serial No. 57-0166, c/n 464155, carrying two nuclear weapons departed from Mather Air Force Base near Sacramento. According to the official USAF report, the aircraft experienced an uncontrolled decompression that required it to descend to 10,000 feet (3,000 m) in order to lower the cabin altitude. Increased fuel consumption caused by having to fly at lower altitude, combined with the inability to rendezvous with a tanker in time caused the aircraft to run out of fuel. The aircrew ejected safely, and then the unmanned aircraft crashed 15 miles (24 km) west of Yuba City,[1] tearing the nuclear weapons from the aircraft on impact. However,in a recent book [2] LTC Earl McGill, a retired SAC B-52 pilot, claims that the aircrew, after an inflight refueling session that provided inadequate fuel, refused the offer of an additional, unscheduled inflight refueling, bypassed possible emergency landing fields and ran out of fuel. The crew ejected, the aircraft broke up and four onboard nuclear weapons were released. The weapons' multiple safety interlocks prevented both a nuclear explosion and release of radioactive material. LTC McGill, based on his SAC experience, blames the aircrew failures on the use of Dexedrine to combat fatigue on the 24 hour flight preceding the accident.

The weapons did not detonate as their safety devices worked properly.[3] A fireman was killed and several others injured in a road accident while en route to the accident scene.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Joint Nuclear Accident Coordinating Center: Record of Events". United States Department of Defense. 14 March 1961. Archived from the original on 17 November 2008. 
  2. ^ McGill, LTC USAF (Ret), Earl J. (2012). "Chapter 13". Jet Age Man: B-47 and B-52 Operations in the Early Cold War. Helion & Company, Ltd. ISBN 978-1-907677-46-5. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  3. ^ Oskins, James C; Maggelet, Michael H (2007). "Chapter 23". Broken Arrow: The Declassified History of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Accidents. Lulu.com. ISBN 1-4357-0361-8. Retrieved 15 November 2008.