1964 Savage Mountain B-52 crash

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Savage Mountain B-52 crash
The test of B-52H 61-0023 demonstrated the loss of vertical stabilizer in strong winds.
10 January 1964: 3 days before the Savage Mountain crash, a New Mexico B-52 test showed the vertical stabilizer could fail.
Accident summary
Date 13 January 1964 (1964-01-13)
Summary Structural failure
Site Savage Mountain, Garrett County (near Barton, Maryland)
39°33′55″N 79°04′33″W / 39.565278°N 79.075833°W / 39.565278; -79.075833 (1964 Savage Mountain B-52 crash)Coordinates: 39°33′55″N 79°04′33″W / 39.565278°N 79.075833°W / 39.565278; -79.075833 (1964 Savage Mountain B-52 crash)
Crew 5:
  • Pilot: Maj Thomas W. McCormick
  • Co-pilot: Capt Parker C. Peedin
  • Radar bombardier: Maj Robert J. Townley[1]
  • Navigator: Maj Robert Lee Payne
  • Tail gunner: TSgt Melvin F. Wooten
Fatalities 3
Survivors 2 (Pilot, copilot)
Aircraft type Boeing B-52D Stratofortress
Operator 484th Bombardment Wing, Heavy (SAC, United States Air Force)
Registration 55-060
(c/n 464012,[2] call sign "Buzz 14")
Flight origin Westover Air Force Base
Destination

Turner Air Force Base

1964 Savage Mountain B-52 crash is located in Maryland
Crash site
Crash site
Barton, MD
Barton, MD
Crash site in Maryland

The 1964 Savage Mountain B-52 crash was a U.S. military nuclear accident in which a Cold War bomber's vertical stabilizer broke off in winter storm turbulence.[3] The two Mark 53 nuclear bombs being ferried[4] were found "relatively intact in the middle of the wreckage",[5] and after Fort Meade's 28th Ordnance Detachment secured them,[6] the bombs were removed two days later to the Cumberland Municipal Airport.[7]

Accident description[edit]

The B-52D was returning to Georgia from Massachusetts after an earlier Chrome Dome airborne alert to Europe.[8] Near Meyersdale, Pennsylvania, on a path east of Salisbury, Pennsylvania;[9] and after altitude changes to evade severe turbulence;[5] the vertical stabilizer[8] broke off. The aircraft was left uncontrollable as a result; the pilot ordered the crew to bail out, and the aircraft crashed. The wreckage of the aircraft was found on the Stonewall Green farm[9] covered by 14 in (36 cm) of snow.[4] Today, the crash site is in a private meadow of Elbow Mountain[10] within Savage River State Forest, along the public Savage Mountain Trail just north of the Pine Swamp Road crossing.[11]

Crew[edit]

As the only crew member who did not eject, the radar bombardier[1] died in the crash and was not located until more than 24 hours afterward.[12] The navigator and tail gunner died of exposure in the snow. The navigator's body was found two days[1] after the accident, 6 miles (10 km) from the crash and 3 miles (5 km) away[13] from where his orange parachute was found near Poplar Lick Run[9]:1 – he had left his unused survival tent and "meandered" into and out of an open barn as with hypothermia stages 2 & 3.[1] After landing in the "Dye Factory field", the tail gunner trekked in the dark with a broken leg and other injuries[1] over 100 yards (90 m) to the embankment of Casselman River – in which his legs were frozen when his body was found five days later, 800 yards (700 m) from a Salisbury street light.[9]:2,4

The pilot parachuted into Maryland's Meadow Mountain ridge near the Mason–Dixon line and, after being driven to the Tomlinson Inn on the National Road in Grantsville,[9]:2 notified the United States Air Force of the crash. The co-pilot landed near New Germany Road and remained "cozy warm" until rescued.[9]:2

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Johnson, Richard Riley (1995). Twenty Five Milk Runs (And a few others): To Hell's Angels and back. Victoria, Canada: Trafford Publishing. pp. 261–2. ISBN 1-4120-2501-X. Retrieved 30 October 2009. 
  2. ^ Baugher, Joseph F., "1955 USAF Serial Numbers", Encyclopedia of American Aircraft, retrieved 8 November 2009 
  3. ^ Sagan, Scott Douglas (1995). The Limits of Safety: Organizations, Accidents, and Nuclear Weapons. Princeton University Press. p. 202 (footnote 125). ISBN 0-691-02101-5. Retrieved 23 November 2009. 
  4. ^ a b Oskins, James C; Maggelet, Michael H. (2008). Broken Arrow – The Declassified History of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Accidents. p. 195. ISBN 1-4357-0361-8. 
  5. ^ a b "Narrative Summaries of Accidents Involving U.S. Nuclear Weapons: 1950–1980" (pdf). United States Department of Defense. 200-03-12. Archived from the original on 31 August 2009. Retrieved 6 November 2009. 
  6. ^ Dearth, Dan (10 November 2010). "Soldier secured nukes at B-52 crash in 1964". Herald News (Hagerstown, Maryland). Retrieved 19 October 2010. 
  7. ^ Whetzel, Dan (2002). "A Night to Remember" (pdf). Mountain Discoveries: 48–51. Retrieved 2 November 2009. 
  8. ^ a b "Accident Description". AviationSafetyNetwork.net. Retrieved 16 November 2009. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f Wood, David. "B-52 Crash". SalisburyPA.com: Newhouse News Service. pp. 5 pages. Retrieved 2 November 2009.  (article + 5 pages of photos & clippings)
  10. ^ "Crew Bails Out As Jet Crashes". Playground Daily News (UPI) 17 (244) (Morning ed.) (Fort Walton Beach FL). 14 January 1964. p. 1. 
  11. ^ Dreisbach, Mike (11 November 2009), visitor information, Savage River Lodge  (The "Savage River State Forest Trail Map" inaccurately names & depicts the "1962 B-52 Crash Site" as 1/6-mile on the incorrect (east) side of Westernport Road & 1/6-mile south of Swamp road.
  12. ^ "Secrecy Still Shrouds Plane Crash". Utica Observer-Dispatch. 14 January 1964. Retrieved 26 November 2010. 
  13. ^ Beitler, Stu (6 August 2009). "Cumberland, MD (near) Bomber Crash, Jan 1964". Retrieved 12 November 2009.