1964 Savage Mountain B-52 crash
10 January 1964: 3 days before the Savage Mountain crash, a New Mexico B-52 test showed the vertical stabilizer could fail.
|Date||13 January 1964|
|Site||Savage Mountain, Garrett County (near Barton, Maryland)
|Survivors||2 (Pilot, copilot)|
|Aircraft type||Boeing B-52D Stratofortress|
|Operator||484th Bombardment Wing, Heavy (SAC, United States Air Force)|
(c/n 464012, call sign "Buzz 14")
|Flight origin||Westover Air Force Base|
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. The two Mark 53 nuclear bombs being ferried were found "relatively intact in the middle of the wreckage", and after Fort Meade's 28th Ordnance Detachment secured them, the bombs were removed two days later to the Cumberland Municipal Airport.
The B-52D was returning to Georgia from Massachusetts after an earlier Chrome Dome airborne alert to Europe. Near Meyersdale, Pennsylvania, on a path east of Salisbury, Pennsylvania; and after altitude changes to evade severe turbulence; the vertical stabilizer 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 covered by 14 in (36 cm) of snow. Today, the crash site is in a private meadow of Elbow Mountain within Savage River State Forest, along the public Savage Mountain Trail just north of the Pine Swamp Road crossing.
As the only crew member who did not eject, the radar bombardier died in the crash and was not located until more than 24 hours afterward. The navigator and tail gunner died of exposure in the snow. The navigator's body was found two days after the accident, 6 miles (10 km) from the crash and 3 miles (5 km) away from where his orange parachute was found near Poplar Lick Run:1 – he had left his unused survival tent and "meandered" into and out of an open barn as with hypothermia stages 2 & 3. After landing in the "Dye Factory field", the tail gunner trekked in the dark with a broken leg and other injuries 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.: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,:2 notified the United States Air Force of the crash. The co-pilot landed near New Germany Road and remained "cozy warm" until rescued.:2
- "Pilot Lands B-52 After Losing Tail". (Historic video of B-52H s/n 61-0023 landing without vertical stabilizer after test flight.) National Archives and Records Administration, archive id 2050727; local id 200-UN-37-19. 10 January 1965. MCA/Universal Pictures newsreel, hosted by Criticalpast.com.
- 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.
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- "Crew Bails Out As Jet Crashes". Playground Daily News (UPI) 17 (244) (Morning ed.) (Fort Walton Beach FL). 14 January 1964. p. 1.
- 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.
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