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KC-135: History of Destroyed Aircraft

If anybody has information on these crashes, please use the comments below as a forum to add your inputs.

Below is a table that shows all destroyed -135 aircraft. The list includes KC-135, RC-135, and EC-135 aircraft. Even a brief look at this listing shows that flying the KC-135 and similar aircraft was anything but safe. Since the R model conversion the safety record has been on par with that of any modern airliner.

Date Tail Number KC-135 Model Base Summary of Events
27-Jun-58 56-3599 A Westover Heavy weight on takeoff, crashed one mile beyond runway
24-Nov-58 56-3598 A Loring Crosswind takeoff, lost No. 4 engine, lost control
21-Mar-59 58-0002 A Bergstrom Flew through thunderstorm, experienced structural failure
22-Jun-59 57-1446 A Walker Main fuel tank explosion on ramp (maintenance)
15-Oct-59 57-1513 A Columbus In-flight collision with B-52
3-Feb-60 56-3628 A Walker Gusty wind during takeoff, lost control, went off runway and crashed into 57-1449 and 57-1457 on ramp and a hanger, all three burned
3-Feb-60 57-1449 A Walker
3-Feb-60 57-1457 A Walker
8-Mar-60 57-1466 A Carswell Fog, aircraft landed on nm short, hit a power line and a building
18-Nov-60 56-3605 A Loring Hard landing, broke nose gear off, caused fuel fire
25-Jan-62 56-3657 A Altus Starter explosion during engine start, caused fuel fire
9-May-62 56-3613 A Loring Heavy weight takeoff, No. 2 engine failed, crashed 2500 feet beyond end of runway
8-Aug-62 55-3144 A Wright-Patterson Landed 2700 feet short of runway
10-Sep-62 60-0352 A Ellsworth Controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) at Mt. Kit Carson near Fairchild AFB, WA
23-Oct-62 62-4136 B McGuire Landed 1000 feet short of runway in right bank at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
27-Feb-63 56-3597 A Castle Lost No. 1 engine during takeoff at Eielson, low visibility, night time
21-Jun-63 57-1498 A Westover Controlled flight into terrain; struck 790-foot hill, 5 nm short and 1 nm left of runway
28-Aug-63 61-0319 A Homestead In-flight collision with another KC-135 (Tail No. 61-0322) over Atlantic Ocean
28-Aug-63 61-0322 A Homestead In-flight collision with another KC-135 (Tail No. 61-0319) over Atlantic Ocean
11-May-64 60-0332 B Travis Hit a tower, 3500 feet short of runway, in heavy rain
8-Jul-64 60-0340 A Larson In-flight collision with F-105 during aerial refueling
4-Jan-65 61-0265 A Loring Lost No. 3 and No. 4 engines during takeoff, crashed 12,000 feet past runway
16-Jan-65 57-1442 A Clinton-Sherman Suspected hard-over rudder at Wichita
26-Feb-65 63-8882 A Dow In-flight collision with B-47, clear weather, over North Atlantic
3-Jun-65 63-8042 A Walker Controlled flight into terrain on low approach, in blowing sand storm
25-Jun-65 60-0373 A McGuire Controlled flight into terrain, night takeoff at El Toro, hit hills four miles beyond runway
17-Jan-66 61-0273 A Seymour Johnson In-flight collision with a B-52. Famous loss of nuclear weapons of Spanish coast.
17-May-66 57-1424 A Amarillo Wind rock during landing, lost control
19-May-66 57-1444 A Kadena Crashed during takeoff, performance problem, possibly windshear
19-Jan-67 56-3616 A Fairchild Controlled flight into terrain; hit Shadow Mountain during landing to base
19-Apr-67 55-3140 A Castle Destroyed during maintenance at Wake Island, right main gear failure
17-Jul-67 58-1465 R (rec) Offutt Stalled during takeoff, high rotation, in clear weather
17-Jan-68 58-0026 A March Crashed during takeoff in poor weather at Minot
30-Jul-68 56-3655 A Castle Structural failure during Dutch roll demonstration
24-Sep-68 55-3133 A Loring Three-engine go-around, forgot speed brakes, landed short
2-Oct-68 55-3138 A Robins Takeoff aborted after nose tires blew, went off runway at U-Tapoa
22-Oct-68 61-0301 A Westover Controlled flight into terrain; contact lost near CCK Taiwan
13-Jan-69 59-1491 RC/S Eielson Landing; lost control on icy runway in snow, at night
25-Mar-69 56-3602 A Loring Takeoff; aborted after S-1 following loss of water injection, broke apart
5-Jun-69 62-4137 RC/E Eielson Unknown cause; in-flight vibration reported, lost contact
19-Dec-69 56-3629 A Ellsworth Structural failure; lost contact, CCK Taiwan
3-Jun-71 58-0039 Q Torrejon Crashed following in-flight explosion of the nr. 1 main fuel tank. Chafing of boost pump wires in conduits was determined to be as a possible ignition source.
31 June 1971 61-0331 B Wright-Patterson Cause unknown; lost over Pacific Ocean
13-Mar-72 58-0048 A Carswell landed short; steep, idle approach
1-Jul-72 63-8473 F French AF Takeoff; lost No. 3 engine initially, then No. 4 later
8-Mar-73 63-7989 A Lockbourne Collided with another KC-135 (Tail No. 63-7980) during alert exercise
5-Mar-74 57-1500 A McConnell Crashed on takeoff; applied wrong rudder
8-Dec-75 60-0354 A Eielson Extreme cold weather; gear problem, stalled
6-Feb-76 60-0368 A K.I. Sawyer Crashed during approach into Torrejon
26-Sep-76 61-0296 A K.I. Sawyer Crashed near Alpena, Michigan
4-Mar-77 62-3522 A Griffiss Engine fire during maintenance
29-Apr-77 58-0101 A Castle Hit cattle on runway during touch-and-go at Beale
14-Sep-77 62-3536 EC/K Kirtland Controlled flight into terrain; after takeoff, hit mountain
19-Sep-79 58-0127 A Castle Flight instructor simulated engine failure on runway, lost control
30-Jan-80 58-0007 EC/P Langley Burned on ramp during heating of water
8-Feb-80 60-0338 Q Plattsburg Burned on ramp; aft body fire during refueling
18-Mar-81 61-2664 RC/S Eielson Landed short at Shemya, sheared off landing gear
6-May-81 61-0328 EC/N Wright-Patterson Runaway trim, rapidly lost altitude, Maryland
13-Mar-82 57-1489 A Arizona ANG In-flight collision with light aircraft during approach
19-Mar-82 58-0031 A Illinois ANG Exploded at 13,500 feet on approach to O’Hare
25-Feb-85 55-3121 RC/T Offutt Controlled flight into terrain; struck mountain near Valdez, Alaska during approach
19-Mar-85 61-0316 A Barksdale Burned on ramp in Cairo during refueling
27-Aug-85 59-1443 A Castle Hard landing, engine fire, stalled in turn
17-Jun-86 63-7983 A Grissom Hit the runway at Howard AB Panama, became airborne again and crashed into a hill in the jungle.
13-FEB-87 60-0330 A Altus Landed on the runway at altus afb on fire, cause was an arc in the fuel vapor area due to a compromised coax from the HF radio, aircraft subsequently burned to the ground in the infield after it rolled off the runway
13-Mar-87 60-0361 A Fairchild Airshow practice, hit wake turbulence, lost control
11-Oct-88 60-0317 A Wurtsmith Crashed on landing
31-Jan-89 63-7990 A K.I. Sawyer High crosswind, performance loss, lost control
21-Sep-89 57-1481 E Eielson Burned on ramp at Eielson
4-Oct-89 56-3592 A Loring In-flight explosion (aft body tank) during approach
11-Jan-90 59-1494 E Pease Burned on ramp at Pease
29-May-92 62-3584 EC/J Offutt On landing; ran off end of runway at Pope
10-Dec-93 57-1470 R Wisconsin ANG Burned on ramp; center wing explosion
14-Jan-99 59-1452 E Washington ANG Runaway trim in flare, nose up, stalled
26-Sep-06 63-8886 R Fairchild Struck on runway by departing aircraft at Manas AB, Kyrgyzstan.
3-May-13 63-8877 R McConnell In-flight breakup over Kyrgyzstan due to malfunctioning rudder power control unit.

June 4, 2009 - Posted by | 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, KC-135, KC-135A, KC-135Q, KC-135R | , ,


  1. 17-Jun-86 63-7983 A Altus Fuel tank (aft body) explosion after landing .

    63-7983 Like myself was stationed at Grissom AFB. In. The date it crashed is correct. Location is not. It crashed on an aborted landing at Howard AB Panama. Not at Altus as stated here

    Comment by Tim McCue | January 16, 2010 | Reply

    • Are you certain that 63-7983 wasn’t assigned to Altus at this time? The “Base” column is the base that the aircraft was assigned to, not the location of the crash.

      If you can confirm that this tail belonged to Grissom in June of 1986 I will be sure to change the table.

      Thanks for the critical eye.

      Comment by Boom | January 16, 2010 | Reply

      • I will confirm this did NOT crash @ Altus. I was sationed there at that time. The Tanker destroyed at Altus was 60-0330 on landing rollout on Friday the 13th 1987. I was expediting that day, and still vividly remember the event.

        Comment by Marcus Haberichter | March 30, 2010

      • I was stationed there at Altus during this time. Working the C-5 line. I personally watched 0330 come in and burn. They were known to have IFE’s all the time. This one was for smoke in the cockpit. I still have the base paper with this aircraft on the front page.

        Comment by Kenneth Barker, MSgt, USAF (Ret) | May 4, 2013

  2. Howdy
    I noticed the error too! on 13 mar 1987 AC 60-0330 landed on the runway at altus afb on fire, cause was an arc in the fuel vapor area due to a compromised coax from the HF radio, aircraft subsequently burned to the ground in the infield after it rolled off the runway
    Doug Hatchett
    Altus ok

    Comment by Douglas Hatchett | May 5, 2010 | Reply

    • Thank you for the help. This list originally came from FSSC and it is only as accurate as what they provided me.

      Comment by Boom | May 5, 2010 | Reply

      • If you would like to know more about the 1987 Feb 13 KC135 fire contact me. I was a civilian dod firefighter assigned to the rescue truck that day, made entry into the burning aircraft twice before the center wing tank blew. The aircraft did not crash or was on fire prior to landing, an aft body fuel tank blew on rollout due to raf radiation from a frayed coax cable on the #2 radio when the crew tried to contact the command post

        Comment by Don Hervey | February 19, 2012

  3. RE: KC-135Q 58-0039

    I was at Torrejon when we lost that one. Torrejon didn’t have any PCS 135’s at that time, all transients. They had a permanent maintenance organization, but no planes. Ground crews stayed with their own birds, but the flight crews rotated among different aircraft. 039 was a McCoy bird. I was a crew chief at McCoy from 4/70 to 9/73 and the Spanish Tanker Task Force was one of our regular gigs. It was a 30-day TDY (I pulled five of them). We kept two birds over there all the time, rotating one every two weeks.

    I was in the middle of my month (I think I had 036 that trip) and 039 was supposed to rotate home the next day. 039 was actually standing spare that day. My bird was one of the two primaries and the other primary, a Blytheville bird, aborted for a blown water line. 039 immediately cranked up and nearly ran over my buddy Horne trying to get out of the chocks (Horne had to use the rear chock to knock the front one loose after they rolled up on it) Then he was barely able to get clear after disconnecting the headset. I remember he wanted to “have a chat” with that AC. He never got the chance. After the mission, we’re in the line truck waiting to recover the birds… Mine landed first, 039 was 10 minutes behind and 042 (039’s replacement) was inbound from McCoy 10 minutes behind 039. Well, Mine landed and 20 minutes later, 042 landed. 039 had blown out of the sky several miles out. The Pease flight crew plus an IP were all killed. When they brought it into the base, the biggest piece I saw was a section of the vertical stab. The last we heard was that it was initiated by an electrical short in the vicinity of #1 main tank (either the boost pumps or possibly the strobe light wiring – Q’s had strobes). Via the fuel vent system, the explosion took the whole left wing pretty much instantaneously. As you can imagine, the yaw from that pretty much disintegrated the bird and scattered it over hell’s half acre. Sad day.

    Comment by Pogo Bob | November 28, 2010 | Reply

    • I am very glad you posted your comment on the KC-135Q explosion that day. My father was listed as the pilot. He left behind his wife and three daughters, ages 13 (me), 10 and 6. Any other information you could give me about the mission they were flying, the time of the crash, the weather conditions at that time, who the IP was (I know my father was a flight instructor), how the Q was modified for refueling, the location of the #1 fuel tank and how it vented, what is yaw and what action would that create, what the flight crew might try to do in that situation, and anything else you know would be very much appreciated. I am an elementary school teacher and don’t even know the questions to ask. For years my mother attempted to find out what happened and never could until the link to the accident appeared last fall. We were told he was doing touch and go’s and the plane was hit by lightning from a severe thunderstorm and exploded.

      Comment by Sue Chandler | February 14, 2011 | Reply

      • On March 4, 2011, I had the privilege of sharing my recollections of that day with Ms. Chandler via phonecon. It was an emotional, yet comforting conversation for us both, I think. All of our fliers put their lives on the line for us daily. In this case, it occurs to me the unfortunate crew were unwitting heroes, as the bird’s next scheduled flight was to rotate home the next day, likely with 50+ passengers aboard. There is no reason to think the aircraft would not have met the same fate.
        We can be grateful for their sacrifice.

        Comment by Pogo Bob | March 5, 2011

      • I can personally start with the “Q” Model modification (currently the “T” model). The KC-135 has 10 fuel tanks, 3 in each wing, forward body, center wing, aft body and upper deck. The Q had 2 Single Point Refueling ports vs the 1 SPR on the A/E/R model KC. The reason for this was to have the ability to carry two seperate types of fuel, one type for the 135 and the other for aircraft such as the Y-12/SR-71 and the U-2. The fwd body and aft body tanks were for the reciever bird, and 1/4 reserves, 1/4 mains, 2/3 mains and center wing were for the 135. That is the main difference between the Q/T and the A/E/R models however some minor changes also exist such as a seach light in the tail cone.

        2 3
        1 4
        1R AB 4R
        Pardon my poor representation of where the fuel tanks are but thats the best ican do. To answer your question the #1 tank is on the left wing and runs from about the middle of the wing between the #1 and #2 and runs outboard to about 3 feet shy of the #1 engine and holds 2113 gallons of fuel. All wing tanks excluding the Center wing are vent via…well a hole about 1 foot from the end of each wing. The easiest way to explain the functionallity of it is by saying its a pressure equilization system.
        Yaw is one of three axis of rotation that aircraft deal with, the other two being pitch (nose up/down) and roll (the entire airframe spinning while flying).Yaw is the rotation around the vertical axis (flat hand on vertical finger). If yaw control is lost the aircraft becomes very instable and causes the tail to slide side to side and like in the film Top Gun may result in a flat spin.
        Unfortunately, not being aircrew I dont know what actions would be taken.

        Comment by Novis Jenkins | September 15, 2011

    • Thank you for the information that you have provided. My uncle was on that flight. I is heartening forty years later to realize that his loss saved others.

      Comment by Cindy Thomas | June 4, 2011 | Reply

  4. Re: 30 Jul 68 loss of 56-3655 during Dutch Roll demonstration at Castle. I was a 93rd ARS Stan Eval Instructor Pilot at Castle for 10 years and approximately 2 months prior to this accident I gave Glenn Rolf the IP on this flight a no notice IP check on student mission #3 the airwork mission. During his Dutch Roll recovery with the aircraft rolling 18 to 20 degrees of bank he applied full rudder only to stop the oscillation immediately without gradually damping it. I yelled at him to get his feet off the rudder and never do this again as the aircraft shuddered violently and I was concerned about structual failure of the tail. I subsequently failed him “safety of flight” and after conferring with Boeing engineers spent several hours on critiqing him on proper recovery methods. After corrective action was completed he was released back to student training and look what happened on 30 Jul 68. HE BROKE THE TAIL OFF THE AIRCRAFT KILLING 7 OTHERS AND DESTROYING A MULTI-MILLON DOLLAR AIRCRAFT. WHAT A TRAGEDY FOR A HARD-HEADED STUPID IP. YOU CAN IMAGINE HOW I FEEL EVEN TODAY 42 years later.
    Ray Young

    Comment by Ray Young | January 7, 2011 | Reply

    • To Ray Young….

      Ray, I attended the 90 day KC co-pilot school through your squadron graduating in Dec/69 and heading to Ellsworth. Did you train any of the students or just do stan eval work on the IP’s?. I do not recall dutch roll recovery training, was it deleted after this crash?

      Do you recall the B-52’s crashing there during this time? We were rookie pilots and we had B-52’s crashing and burning on side of runway while we did touch and go’s. It was not a great morale booster.

      Wasn’t there at least two that crashed and burned on the field during that time?

      Comment by scott nelms | October 27, 2011 | Reply

      • I was there….I was an instrument repairman with fms. This was before ams. I was working on a kc when one of the buffs came in hot , not lined up , and was off to the right of the runway and was veering further when his right wing caught the concrete blockhouse fuel dump building and set it and itself on fire. Big mess. I remember Rapid City’s mayor on local tv station screaming that the base wasn’t safe………………….

        Comment by bob byo | August 3, 2014

    • Ray, I seem to remember the cause of the separation of the vertical stabilizer was the elongation of the holes the attaching pins went through that held the tail in place. It had to do with corrosion that had gone undetected for years, and there were many airplanes found with the clearance in the attaching pins excessive. The fix was to put a bushing in each of the holes on the four attaching pins to strengthen them.

      The Castle airplane was doing airwork, and I believe it was actually doing an emergency descent and leaving the area. I’m trying to find that actual report as I seem to remember they determined the gear were down and speed brakes up full as would be the configuration during emergency descent. While the stress of dutch roll, exacerbated by improper recovery (I spend five years as a Castle IP, and did the maneuver as a demo for new IPs). Why anybody would use rudder baffles me, especially because that is how you got dutch roll started in the first place.

      Comment by Jon Mickley | August 3, 2014 | Reply

  5. The date you have listing the KC 135 fire at Altus AFB, Oklahoma is wrong. I know this because I was on the Fire Dept rescue team and was standing next to the aircraft when it blew up. The proper date is Feb. 13 1987, and the time the tower activated the emergency net was 1126 on the 24 hour clock. The cause was a rear body fuel tank explosion cause by a frayed co-ac cable from the number 2 Com radio which allowed raf energy into the almost empty fuel tank. If you would like pics contact me

    Comment by Donald Hervey | January 27, 2011 | Reply

    • I was in charge of the disaster team and we pickup the remains. I knew most of the crew members. I did’nt find out until later that I had trained the crew in NBC survival. Even after 20+ years I still remember the faces and the whole experience. From what is know by voice tapes, is that they forced the KC-135 to crash into the field next to the BX to prevent more causalties.

      Comment by Paul | January 17, 2012 | Reply

    • Don, I was a Materials Engineer/Accident Investigator at Tinker AFB from 3/83 to 7/99 and worked for the Safety Investigaiton Board on the Altus accident you mentioned. My role was forensic metallurgy on the arced coax cable, and was limited to those parts returned to Tinker for analysis. I’m currently an Accident Investigation Instructor for DOT and am working up some fire/explosion related case studies and would be interested in copies of your site photos and any other comments you might have on the accident. Feel free to give me a shout. Andy McMinn

      Comment by Andy McMinn | January 15, 2013 | Reply

  6. 13-Mar-87 60-0361 A Fairchild Airshow practice, hit wake turbulence, lost control

    FYI,, the one person killed on the ground was the boom operator who wanted to watch his crew practice for the airshow. He was DNIF (duty not including flight = sick leave) but he stood out in the field where all the metal fell. tough luck huh?

    Comment by mad marvin | April 10, 2011 | Reply

    • Was sad to read that Mike Coronet was the A/C or IP on this one. I knew Mike and Marilyn well, went waterskiing with them (and Dave Wandel of the next article). They were a fun family. RIP Mike.

      Comment by Boomerhog - former 28ARS too.. and then at Grissom AFR when they got tankers. | February 1, 2013 | Reply

    • Surber.. that you? Got to be…

      Comment by | April 8, 2013 | Reply

      • I just noticed the comment on the 13-Mar-87 60-0361 A Fairchild Airshow practice crash. I was the NCOIC of Disaster Prepardness Team. We had the unfortunate job of recovering the bodies of that crash. The person killed on the ground was actually in his Volkswagon leaving the Headquaters and was struck by the tail while in the car. I remember the faces very well because I had trained the crew in NBC training just weeks before. This is still hard for me, but I plan to go back to FAFB this summer to see the memorial.

        Comment by Paul S. | April 9, 2013

      • Kc-135 that crashed at fairchild was infact caused by jetwash from a b-52 with 8 engines. They were part of the thunderhawks. They were practicing low level refueling. The Kc-135 was headed for the BX and the plane was maeuvered away and into the field where it crashed. The airman that burned on the ground was in a parking lot watching the planes do their maneuvers. He was not driving and I know this because I was the firefighter that put him and his vehicle out. Knew the whole crew as they used to bbq and play volleyball with us at the station. I also had the unpleasant job of placing white flags by body parts located on the crash sight.

        Comment by Matthew Fare | August 8, 2013

      • I also was there in charge of recovery. I also new the crew from Disaster Prepardness Classes that I taught. I still have nightmares from that incedent.
        Paul Stromberg NCOIC Disaster Prepardness

        Comment by Paul Stromberg | August 8, 2013

      • Hi Paul,

        This is Barry Cohen. Do we know each other from the 43rd in the early 80’s?

        Take care of yourself.


        Comment by Barry Cohen | August 10, 2013

      • I am not sure my boss was Howard Alexander Ret. Col. at the time. Name does sound a little familiar but just not sure. 99% sure I pickup up Hep C durning recovery and had a liver transplant in 2010due to the complications.
        Hey Thanks for asking.

        Comment by Paul Stromberg | August 12, 2013

      • Hi Paul,

        LTC Czyzpien was my Sq CO at the 43rd ARS. A great man.

        I am very glad you are ok. I am simply amazed that an incident that occurred so many years ago actually affected your recent well being in such an extensive way.

        Where are you currently living? What unit were you a part of at Fairchild? Were the alert trailers ever superseded by “nicer” living quarters? My family and I are in Bedford, MA………as in Red Sox Nation.

        Please take care of yourself and thank you for your service.

        Go Sox,


        Comment by Barry Cohen | August 13, 2013

      • It was my understanding from our briefings and my memory of them that the mishap aircraft rolled in and flew behind the bomber so they weren’t practicing refueling at that moment. The mishap aircraft was lower than planned and was hit with wake turbulence. As she banked sharply left, the starboard engines compressor stalled. The pilot team was able to bring the plane back level but too low to recover with the loss of power. They hit on the flight line side of the field, just south and east of the tower. I believe the boom separated from the aircraft but not certain. The tanker slide along the ground, through the fence and across the road, where SMSgt Paul Hamilton was located. The tanker slid into an open area (now site of a building and parking lot), passing very closely to the tanker and bomber squadron buildings (no longer there). I understand that there was a flight safety meeting taking place in the tanker briefing room so imagine the loss if the pilot team had not done such an outstanding job. The tanker hit the weather radar tower at the wing root on the starboard side, which split open the aircraft and spun the plane around some…don’t remember how much. I also recall them saying the crew died in the fire and not the crash landing. Aircraft parts were scattered all over, including a main gear assembly that had come to rest against a wall near some storage buildings and BX area. Had to drive through the area a couple weeks later upon our return from an Alaska Tanker Deployment so everything was still in place. While it did appear that the pilot team made a mistake, I put full blame of Gen. Chain, who wanted a Thunderbirds demo to make himself look good. Watched some of the practices and said this is an accident waiting to happen but figured it would be the bomber. That prediction was shown true in ’94 when the bomber crashed at Fairchild…again doing something not intended by the aircraft design. I was a 43rd ARS Instructor Boom Operator at the time so this isn’t from an article somewhere…

        Comment by KC-135_IBO | December 29, 2013

    • Am I correct that the actual cause leading to the crash was the loss of power in all 4 engines due to the wake turbulance of the B-52 leading the formation?

      Jim Litzinger, I miss you .

      Mike and Capt Johnson were great people.

      Boomer, please say a prayer for me when you visit the memorial.

      Barry Cohen, Co-pilot, 43ARS.

      Comment by Barry Cohen | July 9, 2013 | Reply

      • This is just an awsome site. Keep the memories, tributes, memorials and prayers coming. David Fransen, 5th Bomb Wing, Minot AFB, ND 1981-85

        Comment by David Fransen | July 10, 2013

    • Marv Surber – if this is you, shoot me an e-mail!

      Comment by Dave Maude | August 19, 2013 | Reply

  7. 5-Mar-74 17-1500 A McConnell Crashed on takeoff; applied wrong rudder

    a better explanation.. the jock/beast of a co-pilot in training overpowered the midgit IP in the left seat.. friggin copilot had a heart attack… he was toast. my buddy tried to pull him out of the flaming junk (he was in the bunk in back during touch and goes as usual)

    Comment by boomer was there | April 10, 2011 | Reply

    • I actually met the pilot who was in the bunk during the crash and post crash fire. He said he ran through the flight deck, tried to get that BEAST out of the seat and get others out of the burning remains.


      Comment by Boomerhog | February 1, 2013 | Reply

    • I was on that flight! I was in the bunk, but went to the cockpit for takeoff. There were no seats available, so I stood for takeoff. The IP pulled an outboard engine at rotation and the copilot that was upgrading stepped on the wrong rudder. Trying to recover from that caused the dutch roll. Lucky to be here.

      Comment by James G Egan | March 23, 2013 | Reply

      • Jimmy; I’ve got,and am looking at a 384 ARW Cookbook dated DEC.1974.It was put out by all the wifes in the 91St Sq. BUT has a resape for Jimmy’s Chicken. Would like to hear from ya.It’s been like forever man. MSgt.RUSS ADAMS USAF (retired 94)

        Comment by RUSS ADAMS | May 7, 2013

    • I was in the bunk

      Comment by James G Egan | March 23, 2013 | Reply

      • I met you at McConnel AFB after that.. my brother in law is Peter Meszaros (well, he’s my brother in laws brother). I was a boomer at Ellsworth and was there to take a tanker to Boeing.

        Comment by | April 5, 2013

    • The only BOOMER there got out safly. I flew that am with a 0400 show. we took off that AM,in the dark,not knowing if anyone made it out.I remember to this my legs shaking as I climbed the latter. The reckage still a glowing green burning heap. Thew them all gessing JOE R. is still alive.Get in touch JOE. RUSS;

      Comment by RUSS ADAMS | May 7, 2013 | Reply

    • I knew the IP when he was TDY to YTTF at U-Tapao as aircraft commander of an evaluator crew. I saw him after this accident and he did say he had to fight the co-pilot for control of the aircraft and he was at least able to get the wings level before the aircraft crashed.

      Comment by Clarence Vold, retired CMSgt | July 26, 2014 | Reply

      • As the co-pilot on the crew that was flying that mission I concur with CMSgt Vold. I was in the bunk in the back of the aircraft and walked up to the cockpit to watch the takeoff. I was standing because there were no seats left. That probably saved my life. It also I believe helped me get hired at American Airlines. During an interview with three Captains they asked me what was the scariest thing that ever happened to you flying. American had lost pilots during a training mission that was caused by dutch roll that was self induced. Jim Egan

        Comment by james G Egan | July 29, 2014

  8. 8-Dec-75 60-0354 A Eielson Extreme cold weather; gear problem, stalled

    Bummer of this, the crew was probably suffering from extreme exposure since they were the Alpha-long spare crew from the previous lauch (hours before). Peckerwoods at Eilson didn’t allow APU for heat, thought it could cause ice jam in the intake/exhaust ports when shut down for launch.

    Great crew.. Marty and Dave.. Joe and one other I can’t remember.

    Friggin airfarce duty sucked after that day. OH, ops office had like a give-a shit lesss attitude. he and JAWS were more interested in scoring tdy young officer wives pussy than anything else.

    Comment by boomer was there | April 10, 2011 | Reply

    • Marty was buddies with King Cole… JOYD/CHYS/BFYM… where the heck in Cole now days?

      Comment by Boomerhog | February 1, 2013 | Reply

    • I have to reply one more time… I friggin shuddered to hear the name JAWS. what a piece of shit Harold B williams is/was… may he rot in his festering coffin. What a miserable piece of shit and a typical example of a general-wanna-be from day one at west point. In the army (in those days) troops used to frag officers like him. Too bad we had no grenades, he should have stayed in the army and been fragged in ‘Nam.

      Comment by Boomerhog - former 28ARS too.. and then at Grissom AFR when they got tankers. | February 1, 2013 | Reply

    • I was TDY up there in February 1980. We discussed the accident since cold weather was a contributing cause. Some comments that circulated were;
      1. The crew would have been so cold that their judgement would have been compromised.
      2. One rumor I heard was that when they complained, they were told that if they couldn’t hack it, they would get another crew. Whether or not that was true, I have had those conversations with people who did not care about the crew.
      3. At least when I converted to RC-135S, they had to keep that plane warm but doing anything at -50 is a chore.

      Comment by Steve Francis | May 6, 2013 | Reply

      • By the mid- to late-1980s Eielson had established a policy that all flight and ground operations would cease if/when the temperature reached -40F/C.

        Comment by Robert "DrBob" Hopkins | May 7, 2013

      • KC’s were restricted from flight ops but the Cobra Ball was not. At the same time, we had a hangar so not so bad.

        Comment by Steve Francis | May 7, 2013

      • Reminded me of a cold-weather launch of a KC-135 at Minot a few days before Christmas in 1983 (May have been 1984). It was brutally cold, even by Minot standards. A fierce wind and blowing snow made it much worse. Wind chills were in the range of minus 70 to minus 80. It was a wide-spread, very cold weather system. Malmstrom, Ellsworth and Grand Forks were all closed because of the weather. Minot had a KC-135 that had to be launched out, with a load of Christmas travelers flying space-A. Wouldn’t you know it, the aircraft had a generator problem that we finally were able to fix, with maintenance being severely slowed down by the cold. The aircraft took off, and the base was closed for weather a short time later. Rumor had it that the -135 dragged its tail on landing at NAS Willow Grove later in the day, but the landing was uneventful. No such thing as “restricted flight ops” due to the cold at Minot, and only the far northern Arctic got colder than that December day.

        Comment by David Fransen | May 7, 2013

      • There were plenty cold days like you experienced at griffiss. They let us park our personal vehicles on the flight line so we could stay warm.

        Comment by Neal Pinkowski | May 7, 2013

  9. 8Dec1975 60-0354 Eielson AFB
    I remember well, I was station at Ellsworth AFB as a KC-135A Crew Chief,the aircraft was from Plattsburge AFB, the CREW was from Ellsworth AFB, story around Ellsworth was the crew sat at the end of the runway as an alternet to take the mission if the primary was not able to, the primary A/C had a hydraulic problem that would take some time to fix in the extreme cold in Alaska, the Ellsworth crew had no APU heat because the APU did not work, a request for a heater was denide because of a possible luanch, we were told the crew sat in the aircraft for about two hours without heat and then told to luanch, hypothermia comes to mind. But we were told it was pilot error, I remember Marty, he had a great looking 55/56 corvet, bright red, but I also remember when he left for Alaska he talked about how when he got back from his TDY that he was going to see his mom and sister that he hadn’t seen in ten years, yup, Marty and crew were great people, I believe the other name was Mike.

    Comment by Jerry | May 8, 2011 | Reply

    • Re: Eielson tanker crash 08 dec 75

      Wasn’t this a crash on takeoff?

      I was a Tanker A/C at Ellsworth until Aug/03, I kept in touch with a buddy who was in Stan/Eval there when this crash occurred and he told me about it on a visit.

      He told me, the plane had sat running so long with brakes locked in the extreme cold that either brakes were not released or not fully released possibly caused by ice….and that the runway was so icey, the plane started down the runway at full power and even though the wheels were apparantly dragging, the ice gave them a sled effect that apparently could not be detected by crew in timing their S-1 speed and their takeoff roll was too slow and too long, he also said severe icing may have affected airspeed indicator and added more drag to aircraft affecting its ability for flight.

      Scott Nelms
      Former 28 ARS

      Comment by scott nelms | October 27, 2011 | Reply

      • Scotty, Hey, I was a 28ARS Boomer and then Grissom AFR IBO in 1978. Your Stan eval buddy has his aircraft mishaps swapped.. there was a tanker that successfully tookoff (if you call taking out the approach lights at the departure end) with his brakes set. The A/C said it accellerated slower than normal BUT he had never taken off over 280,000 pounds before.

        Comment by Boomerhog | February 1, 2013

      • I was in the 4th ACCS until early 1975 and then gone for three years on a special duty assignment. I went back to EAFB in 1978 and a friend in Stan/Eval said the tanker was late taking and turned to in his words “head them off at the pass” and flew into a mountain side. That’s what I was told.
        Retired CMSgt and former boom operator

        Comment by Clarence Vold | September 13, 2014

    • Marty’s boomer was David Wandel.. a nice kid from Brea CA, an avid skier, and a good friend.

      Comment by | April 5, 2013 | Reply

    • I was a PUP (135 copilot upgrading to the left seat) at Ellsworth at the time and well remember those days. A couple of corrections —
      1. I got to ride in Marty’s Corvette a couple of times. It was a 1962, not a 1955/56. Beautiful automobile.
      2. The 28th Bomb Wing commander, Col. “Jaws” Williams, had a fearsome reputation, but he wasn’t the one sleeping with tanker pilots’ wives. That dubious honor goes to a squadron commander I will not name, but who had astronaut wings. Y’all know who I mean.
      3. The mission was to support an RC listening to whatever RCs listen to while snooping off the northern edge of the Soviet Union en route to Mildenhall. A KC was to follow the RC and refuel him once they were both at altitude and the RC was on its way. The primary KC had some maintenance issue so the alternate KC was tasked to go, but it crapped out too, so the backup had to go. The backup was Marty and his crew. The temperature was 50 below and the crew had been in the aircraft for two hours with no heat because the APU was inop. By the time they got the order to go and got the engines started, they were half frozen and in no condition to fly. The problem started when the gear wouldn’t retract after takeoff. Marty exacerbated that minor problem when he began a right turn, pulled the power back, and retracted the flaps. The aircraft began to descend and landed on the Tanana River (frozen over at the time) and then slid for a distance until it hit an island in the middle of the river and began to break up and burn. I say that the aircraft “landed” on the river, but the accident report stated that the aircraft hit hard enough to render everyone unconscious.
      4. There were two accident reports. SAC’s report blamed the crew (what a surprise). USAF’s report blamed SAC. Later they set up a simulator with the same conditions … same gross weight, same temperature, gear down, turn, reduce power, retract flaps, etc., and had 20 (I think) experienced pilots see if they could recover. I heard that all but one crashed.

      Comment by Bill Nesbitt (KRCA 1972-1977) | May 16, 2013 | Reply

      • Bill, I was stationed at Ellsworth form late ’69 to ’73. I was an A/C when I left. Do you recall the names of all of the crew? I had heard about this from a buddy that arrived about the same time as me. The usually want to blame pilot error on many of these crashes but I think that the SAC system then added to it.. Most of our training flights were early a.m. takeoffs, 0430 was a common hour. Many of us had day jobs on base in addition to these early a.m. flights, since we had to be at the base 2 hours prior to takeoff, you had to get up an hour before that sometimes earlier in the winter.
        So you were often having to wake up at 0100 but did not get home from the base the day before until late afternoon. Trying to force youself to get 8 hours sleep on an irregular schedule like that is impossible. Add to that the often small houses we lived in and kids plus the stress of knowing you need to sleep and if it is a check ride the next a.m., even more stress. I received zero sleep the night before my A/C upgrade ride but passed anyway. I am positive that crew fatigue has been a factor in many of these “pilot error” accidents. There was no reason to fly that early for a training mission in thoses days since we had plenty of aircraft, they did not need to turn them around to fly again the same day.
        I have no idea if these early a.m. takeoffs are still the norm today but bet if the accident investigators inquired about the sleep habits the night before these early a..m. takeoffs but bet the widows would verifty that their hubbys seldom got proper sleep. In this case, being already fatiqued, then adding the extreme cold would have really made things tough for the slightess thing gone wrong. Did you hear if ice impeded the gear retraction? Scott Nelms (

        Comment by Scott Nelms | May 19, 2013

    • Eielson crash in 1975 was briefed as hypothermia at an altitude chamber, and on a TDY there in 1982, we were preflighting and launching directly from the large hanger in order to keep the crew from suffering the same fate. I believe this was fully attributed to hypothermia.


      Comment by Lee W. | September 7, 2013 | Reply

  10. 11-Jan-90 58-1494 E Pease Burned on ramp at Pease. I was there TDY from Plattsburgh attending FTD school for KC-135 Electrical Systems. I went to the flightline the next day and snapped two pictures that I still have.
    4-Oct-89 58-3592 A Loring In-flight explosion (aft body tank) during approach As a result I was on a TCTO team to rewire all KC-135 Underwing Illumination light systems at Plattsburgh.

    14-Jan-99 59-1452 E Washington ANG Runaway trim in flare, nose up, stalled As a result I was on a stab trim wiring inspection TCTO team at Fairchild.

    MSgt F. Brohal (retired)

    Comment by Frank Brohal | May 20, 2011 | Reply

    • Frank, I was a Materials Engineer/Accident Investigator at Tinker AFB from 3/83 to 7/99 and worked for the Safety Investigaiton Board’s on both the Loring and Pease accidents you mentioned. My role was forensic metallurgy on the aft body refueling pumps, and was limited to those parts returned to Tinker for analysis. I’m currently an Accident Investigation Instructor for DOT and am working up some fire/explosion related case studies and would be interested in copies of your site photos and any other comments you might have on the two accidents. Feel free to give me a shout. Andy McMinn

      Comment by Andy McMinn | January 15, 2013 | Reply

    • Frank – can you send this picture? Would like to include in Boom Signal. -Christopher

      Comment by Christopher Hoctor | September 16, 2013 | Reply

  11. I believe there is still one tanker class A not listed; there was a tanker leaving Anderson AFB in the wee hours during fog that ran over an F-4 in late between late in the late 60’s. They were escorting F-4’s; all perished except the nav (stayed with the aircraft) the engine man (Mark Stephen Kober) & crew chief bailed off the wing prior to impact. I was scheduled to be on the Loring bird of 24 September 68 but stayed in Guam till the 26 to go back to Wurtsmith on a Kincheloe tanker.

    Comment by Larry Becker | May 24, 2011 | Reply

    • That accident occurred on 13 Jan 1970. The F-4D was piloted by Lt Col Michael E. Styer and his back seater was 1st Lt. Terry L. Banning. They were returning to the U.S. from Danang Vietnam. They were positioning on the runway for take off waiting for their wing man, another F-4D to line up with them. Before the second F-4D could taxi out the KC-135 started his take off role. The tanker left wing and #1 engine struck the F-D sitting to the left of the runway centerline. The impact drug the F-4D down the runway creating a fireball from ignited JP-4 and caused the left strut to collapse tilting the aircraft at 45 degrees. Lt. Col Styer attempted to eject but due to the angle the F-4 was to the ground after the strut sheared he was unable gain enough altitude and impacted the ground before his chute could open. Lt Banning unstrapped in an attempt to escape and did not attempt ejection and perished in the fire. Jams O. Helms, CMSgt, United States Air Force, Retired.

      Comment by James Helms | December 29, 2012 | Reply

    • Comments on the Wurtsmith AFB aircraft accident at Andersen AB Guam. The KC-135A tail number was 58-020. I was the boom operator. I would like to make contact with the engine mech and the two crew chiefs. Also I would like to contact my crew. Maj. Colvin. Capt Bell. Capt. McIlree. Call 231-331-4807. Thank-You , William M. Barber SMSgt. Ret.

      Comment by William Barber | February 22, 2013 | Reply

      • I am intrigued by your recollections. According to USAF records, there was no Class A write off of a KC-135 at Andersen. This doesn’t mean the accident didn’t happen, just that the airplane was not written off. On 14 Jan 86, BMAC converted 58-0020 into a KC-135E.

        Comment by Robert "DrBob" Hopkins | May 5, 2013

      • William Barber; I apologize I didn’t see this sooner. The Engine Mechanic on Guam Tanker/F-4 crash was Mark Kober from Sheboygan, WI. He was my first room mate when I got to Wurtsmith in Jan 67; he worked accessories/flight line and I worked test cell. After 40 some years; I tracked down his phone number and had been in contact up until his passing of July 2012; emphizima and COPD. We use to travel back to WI from Wurtsmith on holidays. I went to work full time for the Michigan Air Guard after active duty; retired at 56.
        One of the crew chiefs’ might have been Jake Heidema? Thanks for your updates.

        Comment by Larry Becker; retired AGS Chief, MI ANG | June 10, 2013

    • I was stationed at Andereson in 1969/1970 and got pictures of the aftermath of the accident.

      Comment by george flynn | April 22, 2013 | Reply

      • George, I sure would like to see any photos you may have on that accident and any other info you can provide. I have been working with the Daughter who’s father was involved.

        Comment by James Helms | April 22, 2013

    • That accident had it’s roots in the fact that to get enough runway for takeoff, the KC135s actually taxied to the end of the overrun to begin their takeoff run. The Anderson runway has a big downhill/uphill roll land we even has special takeoff performance charts. The first half was “woo hoo” then the acceleration really slowed when you started uphill. Only saving grace was, once you got airborne and flew out over the water you instantly got 600 feet of altitude.

      If memory serves me right the smoke from the water of the preceding tanker really reduced visibility, plus I believe it was dark, and nobody saw the F4s on the runway (they used the normal runway, which put them 1000 feet in front of the tanker) and the KC135 got cleared for takeoff.

      Comment by Jon Mickley | November 28, 2013 | Reply

  12. 27aug85 59-1443 I was stationed at Beale afb as a firefighter that day I remember it like it just happened
    I can’t forget no matter how I try. I had just arrived from tech school in june that year. we had just finished lunch and my crew was on the flight line for a fuel spill I saw the 135 leave the runway after it hit the engine it was on fire they tried to bank and come around to land but it went down my crash truck was first on scene it was an awful sight the aircraft was in so many pieces after the crash site fire was put out we located several of the victims over the years that day has been a source of nightmares for me I can’t believe I found this web page and can write this down as a firefighter I saw many things but for some reason that day has haunted me perhaps because that was the first plane crash the first dead body the first everything thank you for this site.

    Comment by Paul hampton | July 3, 2011 | Reply

    • Paul, that was my airplane. I was an A1C assistant crew chief at Castle. I never saw the site but did see the news and the photos later. I will never forget that day either. Thank you for being there and doing you job.

      Comment by Robbie Mathiason | July 15, 2011 | Reply

    • I lived near and flew with the IP while at Altus AFB — 11ARS (tankers). He was well known for his ability to “help” guys when others had thrown in the towel — always willing to help others both on the ground and in the air. I was Flight Safety Officer for the 4950th Test Wing WPAFB OH. Seeing the pics and then doing the briefing to the wing was very sobering. I can still “see” those pics that the bicylcist took — especially as the nose is just touching the ground… and then the fireball. I can’t image what you experienced actually seeing it happen… and then not being able to help anyone… Thanks for taking care of those who perished. Shalom

      Comment by Bruec Kramer | October 27, 2011 | Reply

    • Paul, I am a sister of the navigator instructor on that flight. I can’t imagine what that must have been like for you. Our family has found peace and I pray that you do to. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you did that day. I have enough information to know what you found. God bless you.

      Comment by shelley | February 6, 2013 | Reply

      • Are you refering to the March 13th crash at Fairchild AFB?

        Comment by Paul C. Stromberg, 1987, NCOIC Disaster Prepardness Recovery Team. | February 6, 2013

      • No, I am referring to the August 27th, 1985
        Crash at Beale afb

        Comment by Shelley | February 6, 2013

      • The seven lost in the crash of 59-1443 on August 27, 1985 at Beale A.F.B. were:

        Major George T. Nistico, 35, Instr. pilot, native of Staten Island, N.Y.
        Capt. Susan O. Scott, 31, Alexander, Ia., normally co-pilot @ 43rd ARS, Fairchild A.F.B.
        Capt. James Berkeley Henry, 30, Instr. Navigator, Moorhead, Mn.
        2nd Lt. Robbin Kirk Armon, 28, Wisconsin ANG, undergraduate co-pilot, Milwaukee, Wi.
        2nd Lt. Kevin Glenn Bryan, 23, undergraduate navigator, Alliance, Oh.
        Tech. Sgt. Claude Franklin Arden, 33, In-flight refueling instructor, Abingdon, Va.
        Staff Sgt. Desiree Loy, 26, boom operator, Hampton, N.H.

        I offer this information in memoriam only; I have no personal or technical knowledge
        of this accident.

        Comment by Tim | July 11, 2014

  13. aircraft 56-3616 did not crash at fairchild on 19 jan 67. A/C was at robins afb at this time. I last saw 616 at dyess afb may 84. It was retired from service some time after this.

    Comment by D FLOYD | August 8, 2011 | Reply

    • The accident airplane was KC-135A 56-3613.

      Comment by Robert "DrBob" Hopkins | May 7, 2013 | Reply

    • I was the nav in 56-3616 in Nov 90 deploying to Saudi. We ended up in Jedda in Dec. While there, the Crew Chief, Jesse Paul, painted sharks teeth on the nose similar to an A-10. Got told to remove it shortly after. It was too cool. I understand it got to the navy for structural test some time in the late 90s. So no, it was not the mishap A/C.

      Comment by Ron Mahn | March 7, 2014 | Reply

  14. There is a Carswell tanker crash missing. I’ll have to research when and what tail number.

    Comment by Rodney Smith | September 4, 2011 | Reply

    • The Carswell accident was on March 13, 1972 and the aircraft was 58-0048. Evidently they caught a wingtip while doing touch and go’s. I would like to find the names of the crew other than the Boomer who was A1c Bruce Klaverkamp.

      Comment by John Stevens | May 10, 2013 | Reply

      • I actually witnessed this crash. I was in 5th grade at Theodore Willis Elementary, which was located by the runway. I can still vividly see it in my mind. As it came in for the landing, the right wing dipped and hit the ground. It was about a 60-70 degree dip, and when the wingtip caught, it basically cartwheeled.

        Comment by Will | June 15, 2013

    • After getting checkrides, the crew brought the Carswell AFB KC-135 back to base and let the 2 evaluators off. They resumed flying in the pattern. During a practice landing, the right wingtip struck the ground and the airplane crashed and exploded.
      Causes and major factors:
      Injuries: The 5 crew onboard perished
      Crew killed:
      A/C: Maj Charles N. Ventimiglia, 46, Brooklyn, NY
      Co: 1Lt Alexander E. McCarthy, 25, Phoenix, AZ
      Co: Capt John C. North, 26, Enid, OK
      Nav: Maj John L. Snow, 40, Springfield, MO
      BO: A1C Bruce J. Klaverkamp, 19, St Cloud, MN

      Comment by DrHr | November 4, 2013 | Reply

      • I recall that day as well. My father was one of the evaluators and I almost became an orphan that day. I was near the flightline at the elementary school there and after the crash huge clouds of black smoke. I have read the accident report, it is as Jon Mickley states. My father, a boom operator, was later awarded the DFC for his actions in South East Asia just months later and retired in 1974. I later joined the Air Force too and am also retired. My father has talked of this many times over the years. My condolences to the families of these honorable men.

        Comment by CB | March 3, 2015

      • I was a boom operator at Carswell and my crew was mission planning that day and have a couple of details to add. It was a PUP ride for a Stan-Eval co-pilot and his son was born on the Friday before the crash. The Stan/Eval navigator was the reason why they made a stop to let him off. The boom intended to stay on to the end of the flight but when they taxied in he decided to get also get off the airplane. They took off and crashed on the first approach.

        Comment by Clarence E. Vold CMSgt (Ret) | March 3, 2015

    • That crash was the result of a “steep idle power approach” and when they tried to arrest the sink rate, the airspeed dropped so much so fast the airplane stalled and hit the ground. I remember that crash as being the reason unit “Training Flights” were started. Prior to that, local upgrades were often done by staff IPs who didn’t fly that much. The idea was to have a dedicated cadre of IPs that did all the in unit upgrade training. Kind of like a mini CCTS at the unit.

      Comment by Jon Mickley | November 26, 2013 | Reply

  15. 26-Sept-2006
    KC-135 R
    not 100% sure possible home station Grand Forks

    Miscommunication between Tower and aircraft leading aircrew to belive tower said to hold short taxiway, tower believed they were clear of runway. Tower cleared another aircraft to take off and clipped 8886 in the process

    Comment by Novis Jenkins | September 15, 2011 | Reply

    • 8886 was a Fairchild jet. I need to add that to the list. I’m not exactly sure of the date, I think it was around September 29-30th 2006 or so. I saw it in person a couple days after it happend.

      Comment by Boom | September 15, 2011 | Reply

  16. I’m looking for info on a kc-97 crash in June 1971.pilot mcguin, nav Reinhart. 29 perished.

    Comment by Ron knipfer | November 16, 2011 | Reply

  17. Do you have any info on a kc97 crash at Harmon AFB, NFLD in Dec of 1964?

    Comment by Theo L. Ward | November 24, 2011 | Reply

  18. do you have any info on a kc97 crash at Harmon AFB, NFLD in Dec of ’64?

    Comment by Theo L. Ward | November 24, 2011 | Reply

    • This aircraft was aborting a landing on an icy runway. While accelerating for takeoff the engines went into flat pitch, and the aircraft rolled off the end into an ice covered lake. I was a KC-97 Nav at Pease AFB at the time. This occurred one month after a KC97 crashed at Pease (#4 in a MITO takeoff) which I witnessed from a KC-97 on the flightline.

      Comment by George Keene | August 21, 2013 | Reply

  19. Regarding the kc 135 a crash of 57 1424 the location is correct the date is not it occurred on may 17thn1966 Tuesday night at 2136 local I should know this my dad and four other men were killed that night

    Comment by stephen r doughty | December 4, 2011 | Reply

  20. Here is another one, although I don’t know the tail number. I was at Grand Forks at the time, but I had just left Dyess shortly before this crash. It was an A model that apparently had water injection or other engine problems on takeoff.

    Comment by David Fransen | May 4, 2012 | Reply

  21. Here is another link on the Dyess crash, with the aircraft tail number.

    Comment by David Fransen | May 4, 2012 | Reply

  22. Friends, I’m trying to locate a newspaper article and more info about by dad’ s crash in a KC-135 which occurred in Loring AFB in late Nov. in 1958 (I believe) I was six years old at the time. My dad survived the crash but seven others died. This haunted him for many years. He was the boom operater and they had a double crew that day because his crew was training another one. They were also doing touch and go landings (according to my mom) and it was a no notice flight. As I read these and other accounts of accidents, I can’t help but wonder if there were some inherent problems in the design of the plane or the idea of touch and go landings, which may have caused so many accidents. Most of these men had 4 or 5 kids and it’s sad to think they had to grow up without their fathers.
    Ms. Terry (Holsclaw) Salguero

    Comment by Terry Salguero | May 14, 2012 | Reply

    • Terry, I have the news clippings and USAF report, I have researched this incident extensively. Contact me at

      Comment by Peter Noddin | September 11, 2012 | Reply

    • The airplane experienced an engine failure during moderate crosswinds which led to a loss of controllability. The impact site was near the wreckage of B-47B 51-2199 which had crashed 3 days prior. The airplane was brand new (only about 150 hours of flying time) and well designed. Doing touch-and-go landings is not inherently dangerous. During the 1950s, however, jet engine technology was poor and engine failures in all types of airplanes was relatively common. For the KC-135, there were some flight regimes where loss of on engine created a very dangerous situation.

      Comment by Robert "DrBob" Hopkins | May 7, 2013 | Reply

  23. Terry, It sounds like your Dad was very lucky and I can understand his being haunted in regards to this tragedy.

    As a former tanker pilot who made hundreds of touch and go landings, I will say that the Aircraft is one of the most durable and safest aircraft in history, witnessed by the fact that hundreds of them are still in service today.
    There have been a lot of unsafe military aircraft, the F-104 is at the top of the list but the tanker is among the safest.
    I am sure somewhere the accident rate per 100,000 hours of flight is published and I bet you find the 135 among the safest, even with it still flying for more than 50 years.

    Scott Nelms

    Comment by scott nelms | May 16, 2012 | Reply

  24. Aircraft that you had listed as 61-269 was actually aircraft 61-296 that crashed near Alpena, Michigan. I was the one that launched that Aircraft from K.I.Sawyer and sent crewchiefs with the aircraft. The assistant crew chief made it through without any scratches and the crewchief was killed on impact.

    Comment by Ted McKee | May 27, 2012 | Reply

    • 61-0269 is a EC-135L. On static display at Grissom Air Park. Bunker Hill Indiana. Saw it just this past summer

      Comment by Tim McCue | November 10, 2013 | Reply

  25. Aug 27 1985 is a day i’ve that haunts me to this day I was a firefighter in the US Air Force
    stationed at Beale AFB. At 12:35 pm my station had just finished lunch when the alarm went off
    Let me say id was a newbie just finished tech school in may of that year. We could see the plume of black smoke from the station. When our truck came over the hill nothing could have prepared me for what i saw pieces of aircraft were all over the ground was scorched black
    and the chocking smell of jet fuel was in the air. we discovered several victims but you could not tell that it was a person it look like pieces of burnt nothing the smell of this has stayed with me. I’m sorry to be graphic. I have had many sleepless nights since that day trust me i saw many things as a firefighter but the crash of that KC-135 left it’s mark on me.
    over the years i search for the names of crew members. I found one in particular the female boom operator her name was Desiree Loy she was 25 years old, the same age as I.
    Well thats enough!!!

    Comment by paul hampton | June 1, 2012 | Reply

    • I remember that day well. I was a student B-52 gunner at Castle. The Saturday before the crash the boomers and gunners were at a birthday celebration and this is where I met Desiree Loy. She was a SSgt in the AF Reserves and a student boomer. Great person. Never forgot her. It was a tough time for all of students.

      Comment by Jim Sellars | January 11, 2013 | Reply

    • I feel your pain. I was Desiree Loy’s boom operator instructor for her first flight after academics school. In 1986 Our first daughter was born. We named her Desiree Loy Carr. Tom Carr

      Comment by Tom Cart | May 6, 2013 | Reply

      • Jim where are you now I beleave I was your 1st BOOMER after your up graid.That flight was one of your up graids,was’nt it? RUSS ADAMS.

        Comment by RUSS ADAMS | May 7, 2013

  26. 13 Jan 69 59-1491 was lost at Shemya. A/C did not have thrust reversers and went off the end of the icy runway.

    15 Mar 81 62-1664 was lost at Shemya. Date is incorrectly listed as 18 Mar 81.

    Comment by Bruce Trego | July 11, 2012 | Reply

    • Shemya AFB was never an easy approach or landing. It has always been used by intel specialists due to it’s proximity to Russia. The weather was always at or below safe minimums and the flight crews stationed there were supposed to be there only 1 week at a time. Often, crews from Fairbanks would take a TDY boom operator as the loadmaster for the crew turnaround flight. I myself flew with these pilots as the loadmaster and several times saw the local pilots push the aircraft and landing minimums past safe limits.

      Comment by Herb Goldschmidt | August 8, 2012 | Reply

  27. How about the 135 crash at Torrejon sometime in 1974 or 1975. The boomer was my student at Castle and had graduated with the highest score ever attained at that base. 99.9 average. His name was Loyd Baker. This crash is not listed.

    Manny Alegria retired boomer.

    Comment by Manny Alegria | August 17, 2012 | Reply

    • On the 6th of Feb 1976, KI Sawyer tanker T/N 60-0368 was returning from Mildenhall RAF Station. It was to land around 20:00, I was on the flight line waiting to recover this aircraft. It crashed on approch to Torrejon Spain. Weeks after the crash we had a hanger set up to reconstruct the crash and try to find out what caused the aircraft to crash. I found a old photo of what was left of the plane after the investigation was complete. I checked on the Boom Operator Memorail at Altus AFB OK and found that Ssgt Lloyd D. Baker was the listed Boomer on this flight. Hope this info helps.

      Comment by Mike Macon | March 5, 2013 | Reply

  28. I was at Utapo AB in 1968 as part of Operation Arc Light out of Westover AFB 99th OMS. I was spart of the launch crew of KC 135 55-3138 that crashed on take off on Oct 2 1968 and was also part of the ground crew of KC 61-0301 that we launched to CCK Taiwan on Oct. 22nd. It never made it!!! After all these years I am ashamed to say that I can not remember the names of that 61-0301 crew, especially the ground crew that was on board as we were working and socializing together the days prior to takeoff. I wish so much that someone could help me catch up with that loss!!

    Comment by Harry Schafer | October 2, 2012 | Reply

    • Hi, I’m Rich Leahy from Boston area- 61-301 T>D>Y> from Westover to Kadena. Had two of my roomates on board as ground crew at Kedena, Robert dudeck of Ipswich Mass. and Robert Goyette of Adams Mass.? (Western Mass.) I was also ground crew on 301 in Kedena. I missed that flight!

      Comment by Rich Leahy | April 23, 2013 | Reply

      • Rich, thanks for the info regarding Oct.22, 1968 KC 61-0301. The names you supply do ring a bell. I hope you can contact me directly at v&sent1000@AOL.COM
        Harry Schafer

        Comment by Harry Schafer | July 22, 2013

    • A/C: Capt Kent Vincent Allison, 28, Prairie Village, KS
      Co: Capt Mark F. White, 29, VA
      Nav: 1Lt James J. Hayes Jr, 23, NJ
      BO: SMSgt Howard B. Benge, 49, Concordia, KS
      Westover crew chiefs:
      SSgt Raymond Robert Goyette, 53, Chicopee, MA
      Sgt Robert Dubeck, Ipswich, MA

      Comment by DrHr | November 3, 2013 | Reply

    • I was a copilot on the #2 airplane in that cell. I still have the photo I took from the left overwing hatch of the smoke from the crash. Back then you held full forward yoke on takeoff. They lost an engine and the force on the nose gear coupled with the attempt to steer the airplane resulted in a blown tire or tires. That induced too much drag and when they finally rotated they struck the approach light stanchions and crashed. After that you just held enough forward yoke to keep the nose gear on the runway and if memory serves me right you actually took your hand off the nosewheel steering at some speed (80 knots maybe?) well below rotation.

      Comment by Jon Mickley | November 26, 2013 | Reply

      • Hi Jon, my brother Jim Hayes was co pilot or navigator on 61-0301. Is that which plane crash you are describing that occurred 10/22/68?
        If so can you describe it in laymen’s terms? Also u say you are #2 in the airplane cell. What does that mean? Also u saw the smoke from the his crash?
        Any chance of getting some sort of copy of that photo u have over the internet or thru my email or anything. It sure would mean a lot. The crash occurred 55 mi away from cck where they were to land. When did the engine fail? Pat what point in the flight? How long of a flight would be from utapo to cck?
        Any info or anything would be great & most appreciated. I was 7 when he died. We never knew any cause. If u see any of my other many posts, you’ll hear more!
        Thanks very much.
        Catherine Hayes janis

        Comment by Catherine Hayes Janis | June 23, 2014

      • Catherine Hayes Janis, The crash I witnessed was a takeoff from UTapao, not the one that happened on the approach to CCK. The “#2 in cell” refers to the second aircraft in the formation, which in the tanker business was a “cell”. Some of the cells had two KC135s while others had four. I had posted the picture I took from the overwing hatch, but I don’t remember if it was on this site or a different one. All it shows is the black smoke from the crash, which was over a mile away from where we were when I took the picture.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | June 23, 2014

      • Catherine, follow up on the UTapao crash I witnessed. If you go to the list of the destroyed aircraft on this site, go to 2 Oct 1968, ship 55-3138. Click on the “55-3138″ and it will open a link to the specifics of the crash. The pix I took that day is on that page. Again, this is not the CCK crash which occurred later that month.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | June 23, 2014

    • Harry, the copilot’s name on 61-0301 was Jim Hayes, a very tall guy. I saw him in the Officer’s club just as he finished calling for a crew bus. We talked for a few minutes. He and I went through winter survival school together in February 1968 and were in tanker training together until finishing in May 1968. They were from Columbus Mississippi. After our flight landed that afternoon we heard a tanker went down en route to CCK. I knew it was Jim and his crew. Of course, I was also a new copilot and this was my first TDY. The aircraft 55-3138 was the plane we flew over from Robins AFB. We also lost engine #4 en route to March AFB, but for a different reason (fuel control unit quit over Oklahoma) and we continued to March. Sorry I didn’t know any of the other crew members on 61-0301. I remember that the Pilot of 55-3138’s last name was Peach. He lived for a few days after the crash. That aircraft was the 13 oldest tanker in the fleet at that time.

      Comment by George Asadourian | June 23, 2014 | Reply

      • HELP! re: 0301. Requesting a written statement from ANYONE in the know on what the crew was supporting. The family was told the crew names would not go on the Vietnam Wall because they crashed in Taiwan (not war support). It’s painfully obvious to me that they were at U-Tapao for Young Tiger / Arc Light support. Please send me an Email which I will append to my request to AFPC for adding their names., Many thanks!

        Details: A Columbus AFB crew flying a Westover KC-135 from U-Tapao AB, Thailand, crashed about 55 miles short of its destination of Ching Chuan Kang AB (Taiwan). The aircraft was reported to be below the published approach altitude in a mountainous area at night, and struck the ground just below the top of a 7,000’ mountain.

        Comment by Christopher John Brown Hoctor | June 23, 2014

      • Hi George, I am the youngest sister of Jim Hayes. You said you saw him at Officers Club after he called Crew Bus & you talked a few min. You say yo went to winter survival school together. Please email or tell me more, anything. That was only my brothers 3rd month TDY there. He was 23. Our only brother & the oldest. He was tall as am I. I have 3 older sisters. I am the youngest but the tallest. 5’10.
        Never any info about crash from USAF. He & crew didn’t get named on Vietnam War Memorial wall, not in right area for crash. I would love any stories, any, anything you can remember. My parents passed away 2006 & 04.
        Thank you very much. Catherine Hayes Janis (cathy)

        Comment by Catherine Hayes Janis | June 23, 2014

  29. I am working on collecting research on the History of Dyess AFB in conjucntion with Dyess AFB Public Affairs. I am looking for information on KC-97s and KC-135s operating at the base. WWIIHIST@AOL.COM

    Comment by Lt. Col. George A. Larson, USAF (ret.) | October 17, 2012 | Reply

  30. 27 June 58. This was to be a record setting flight from the US to the UK and there were approximately 30 news reporters aboard. The crash was attributed to the use of 40 degrees of flaps on take-off for which there was no tech data. The recommended flap setting for a heavyweight take-off at that time was 30 degrees. Subsequent tests showed that 40 degrees of flaps created more drag than lift which is why the aircraft could not sustain flight.

    A former 135 AC

    Comment by Col. Gene Cirillo, USAF (Ret) | October 22, 2012 | Reply

  31. Hello. My father was the pilot of the #55-3121. You have the base of the aircraft as Offutt. our family was stationed at Eielson at the time of the crash, so not sure if the plane was on loan from Offutt or not. I was only ten at the time of the crash. it was the height of the cold war. KAL flight 007 had been shot down maybe 18 months prior. I am posting here not so much to correct any info you might have but to gather some. Because of time and place we as family were told nothing. Some documents say that the following august air force finally found the wreckage. This was due to some information that had been provided, to who ?? most likely local cops, by some college rock/ice climbers who had spotted the wreckage on one of there outings. From what i have found the records say that my fathers plain had had all its recon equipment removed and was merely a training vessel. My personal feelings are that is bullshit. I know my father spoke to then pres. Reagan after the KAL007 incident. I also know that this plain had been recently retrofitted with different enigines. Any info from anyone that was stationed at Eielson at that time or that knew my father, Maj Michael L Manning, would be greatly appreciated.

    Comment by Chad Manning | November 5, 2012 | Reply

    • Hello Chad. I was one of the contractor tech reps assigned to the 6th Strategic Wing. As one of 3 supervisors, I spent 1 week at Shemya AFS (Det 1, 6 SW) alternating with 2 weeks at Eielson AFB. I flew on 121 many times as a passenger to and from Shemya. A/C 121 was indeed assigned to the 24th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron of the 6th Strategic Wing at Eielson AFB as a Cobra Ball Front-End Trainer. It was reported to be performing microwave landing system (MLS) approaches to Valdez Airport at the time of its loss. I’m afraid I can’t shed any light on the details of recovery efforts as I had departed Alaska approximately 2 years earlier in April ’83. I am extremely sorry for the loss of your father and his fellow crew members.

      Comment by Bruce Trego | November 8, 2012 | Reply

    • Chad, I was a navigator on the Cobra Ball from April 1981 to October 1983. I was on your dad’s crew and spent quite a bit of time at Shemya. 3121, was just a front end trainer and used to haul crew. It had no operational capability at the time, ie sensors. The MLS approach at Valdez was a very difficult approach with a glide path of 6 degrees I believe. The AF spent a lot of time search, including the use of SR71s. It was not found until the snow melted that hikers came across the wreckage. Kent Seckman was the navigator on the flight and he had replaced me when I decided to become a civilian. I was also on the Ball when the KAL was shot down.

      Comment by Steve Francis | May 4, 2013 | Reply

      • I was wondering if the administrator of this site, or someone can give us a brief idea of how to navigate the site?  I often get these e mails and have sometimes commented but where do they go?  When I open the website, I see a lot of KC-135 pics etc., links to other aircraft sites but I am assuming there is a link that I must be missing that stores all of these comments by aircraft tail number and gives details of each destroyed aircraft as well as the crew members lost.  I am interested in 60-0354.  A 1975 crash at Eielson with an Ellsworth crew, I know very cold weather was involved, I am a former A/C from Eillsworth that lelft the AF shortly before this and I know I knew the A/C and probably some of the rest of the crew.  A buddy visited me a few years later, who was chief of Stan Eval at Ellsworth at the time and we talked at length about the crash.  He told me there was some thoughts that ice may had affected the brakes as apparently it was in strip alert mode with engines running and parking Brakes set for a very long period and that when they finally took off, the brakes may have somehow not fully released due to the ice causing drag on brakes or drag on the plane itself that somehow was not picked up on the timed S-1 takeoff roll check and that drag may have also affected raising gear or added more drag by also having ice on the gear.  The conditions sounded brutal and in hindsight, it would seem they should have sat in an enclosed hanger which at most would have just added 5 to 10 minutes to the launch time but saved lives and the aircraft. I would like to read the more about this as memory has faded and I have forgotten the A/C’s name.  We were pretty tight in those days as we still pulled 7 day 24/7 nuke alert duty all living and playing cards, pool, etc. together in an old building right off the flight line.  The BUF crews got the new underground facility, we had a WW2 vintage above ground facility.   Thanks,   Scott Nelms, former 28 ARS

        >________________________________ > From: Air Refueling Archive >To: >Sent: Saturday, May 4, 2013 11:49 PM >Subject: [New comment] KC-135: History of Destroyed Aircraft > > >Steve Francis commented: “Chad, I was a navigator on the Cobra Ball from April 1981 to October 1983. I was on your dad’s crew and spent quite a bit of time at Shemya. 3121, was just a front end trainer and used to haul crew. It had no operational capability at the time, ie sensors”

        Comment by W | May 5, 2013

      • Also, 3121 had to be modified to have similar characteristics as an RC135S. The 24th SRS was down to one aircraft. That aircraft 612663 was on constant deployment to Shemya. Unlike most C135s, ie KC135 variants, the RC series had different engines(with thrust reversers), different brakes, and we did not have to pump 5000 pounds of water into the engines for a heavy weight takeoff. The Cobra Ball had to fly approaches into Shemya at a very high landing weight and the alternate landing base was 3 hours away. It was not unusual for us to dump 30,000 pounds of JP4 on final approach and hope we could land. Flying back to Eielson after a 15 hour flight was not fun and doing a third air refueling was less fun. The main point is, 3121 in that time frame was configured to train pilots, nothing more, nothing less.

        Comment by Steve Francis | May 6, 2013

    • Hello Chad, I was stationed with your dad and worked on 55-3121. the aircraft was just a training plane. empty of all equipment inside. It crashed, as i remember, in the mountains in southeastern Alaska area. I knew your dad, althought onlt from a work relationship. You are correct, KAL 007 had recently been shot down, and there lots to that story as well. Sorry i can’t add much and fill in many holes.

      Comment by Casey Wheeler | September 12, 2014 | Reply

    • Chad, I knew your father as Capt. Michael Manning, aircraft commander in 4th ACCS at Ellsworth AFB and I can only comment on what a fine officer and gentleman your father was. I also knew him as an excellent pilot with a reputation as a very strict enforcer of safety within his crews, sometimes to the point of annoying his crews.
      I returned to EAFB in 1978 and was assigned to the 4th ACCS as a boom operator until I was grounded from flying for medical reasons and left 4th ACCS in early 1980.
      It was a shock to me when I heard the news about your father. Later I met our 4th ACCS commander and he essentially said that whatever happened was totally out of character for your father.
      This may or may not make sense, but I don’t know what happened and at this point in my life I really don’t want to know. A fellow -135 crewmember is gone and I miss him, although I am sure you miss him more. May God comfort you.
      Retired CMSgt and former boom operator.

      P.S. There is a story about your father I need to tell you. Do remember how he signed his name? If so you’ll understand. For everyone else, Capt. Manning’s signature can be described as starting with a printed “L” a short line and then the bottom of a small “g.”
      A DO at the 28th BW thought he should be able to read in proper cursive, Capt. Manning’s signature. Everybody told the DO that was how Capt. Manning signed his name and that was the signature on his ID card. The DO did not believe them. At a base wide staff meeting the base finance officer was in attendance. The DO showed him Capt. Manning’s signature asked who that signature belonged to. The finance officer looked at the signature and immediately said, “Michael L. Manning.” Subject dropped.

      Comment by Clarence Vold | September 13, 2014 | Reply

      • I arrived at Ellsworth in Dec 69 as a 2Lt just out of Co-Pilot training. I was assigned to the 4th ACCS for about 6 months and then transferred to 28 ARS, also at Ellsworth. 18 months after arriving, they made me an AC. Except for the Boomer, my co-pilot and nav were new. So a very inexperienced crew. We flew all over the world with 4 TDY’s to UT within any serious issues. I do not know if inexperience played a factor in the Vietnam era crashes but pilots were expected to be ready to be an AC within 2 years and would have a rookie co pilot. I did not know Capt Manning, and I got out of the USAF in 1973 when they were transferring me to Minot. Shortly after that I heard we had a 28th ARS crew crash in Alaska, I knew the AC as he came in a year or so after me but now cannot recall his name, does anyone know that planes tail number and the names of the crew? I heard ice was involved in that crash as it was very cold, I had not heard of the 2nd Ellsworth crew crashing. Many of the air crew members would move back and forth in my day between 4th ACSS and 28ARS. If you wanted to see the world, you wanted to be in the ARS, if you wanted to stay home most of the time you wanted to be in the ACCS. I saw mentioned in this message a 68 crash of a tanker out of Kadena Okinawa, I spent a lot of time at Kadena, as did many tanker crews, and heard a story of a Tanker disappearing without any radio contact and debris found days later with the scuttlebutt summation being it was because of an in tank fuel pump causing an explosion. I do not know if that was the crash in question by the brother of the co pilot but I know that it was a TDY tanker going or coming from Kadena. Weren’t all tankers in Kadena TDY, even the Q’s? I once flew as a sub co pilot on a Kadena Q, the crew was from McCoy, the refueling of the SR-71 was quite a sight, it was right at dusk off Korea, the SR dropped down for the refueling and the AC let me go to the boom pod, the plane was glowing red from the heat during their reentry and was extremely nose high, even though we were flying at 255 kias as that was very slow for the Kabu as some called it then.

        Scott Nelms, St Petersburg, FL

        Comment by Scott Nelms | September 14, 2014

      • I was also at Ellsworth from Aug 1972 to Apr 1975. I was in the 28th ARS with LTC Murray as squadron commander, Denny Orr was the squadron admin and Plug Powers was the squadron boom operator.
        My first crew was with Capt. Doug Schott, Lt. Lynn Heath (CP) Lt. John Bouchard (N). They were a student crew at Castle and I was so so-called experienced member of the crew. In Nov I was changed to a crew with Capt. Bruce Schuerman (P) Capt. Mark Cole (CP) and Capt. Dave Alter (N) and went TDY with them to YTTF.
        When I got back from TDY I transferred to 4 ACCS and my crew was Capt. Frank Walsh (P) Lt Neal Jackson (CP) he arrived at EAFB about the same time I did. The Nav at first was Maj Russ Niewold but he was grounded and replaced by Lt Rick Davis.
        A couple of people that may have been in 4 ACCS with you are Capt. Jack Liabbraten (sp) a Maj. Dewitt also called the plug. He was average height, a muscular upper body and very short legs. Jack was probably the best receiver pilot I ever refueled.

        Comment by Clarence Vold | September 15, 2014

      • Small world, were you with Bruce at UT in LB2? We hung out often at the club and flew in a couple of 6 ship cells during LB. Here is an off topic, interesting but sad story on Frank Walsh, former KCAC who transferred to F-4’s. During this UT trip we were flying at night and refueling F-4’s with call sign of Owl, they were night recon flights.. One of the pilots came on radio and asked which base we were from, and I replied Ellsworth. Frank was the pilot, anyway he found out that several crews from Ellsworth were at UT and said he would come down to visit. A couple of weeks later he showed up and found me through crew control. He had since sprained his ankle and DNF and needed a Dec mission for flight pay and asked if I would get him on our orders for a flight the next day, I did so and met him at the club that night where he found he had a lot of old friends, as you might guess he missed our 6 am bus the next morning, I thought he probably found a later flight and I did not hear from him again. But a week or 2 later, during LB2, I was flying a night mission and an Owl flight came up for fuel, I asked about Frank and was told he was shot down while riding as an observer on an AC-130 gun ship!. I was shocked, had he flown with us, he would not have been on the 130. In addition, we had been involved in the rescue attempts of that downed 130, they had tankers in the nearby anchors refueling the close air support. His full name is Francis A. Walsh, Jr and you can find his name and details on the Virtual Vietnam Wall and it was 21 Dec 72. Anyway, several years back, I left a memoriam to him on the virtual wall and soon after got an e mail from who later would become his son in law. This is were this gets to be a very small world and even sadder…. I live in the Tampa Bay area, the son in law was a former Marine and last name was Bullush. He asked me if I knew the name Sheila Bellush, I did, as she was the Mom of quads that had been murdered in the late 90’s just south of us. It was on the news 24/7 and later on 48 hours or one of those shows. Unknown to me, Sheila Bellush was Frank’s only daughter and the son in law wanted info to do a book for Frank’s grandkids and I told him of meeting up with Frank shortly before he was shot down and having him scheduled to fly with us. .

        Comment by Scott Nelms | September 15, 2014

      • Yes I was TDY to UT with Bruce. I remember one cell that at one point pure chaos.

        Do you remember the one where Bruce was flying visual off of lead and ended up following a flight of F-4’s towards Hanoi? If not I’ll explain

        Comment by Clarence Vold | September 16, 2014

      • Clarence…Very Small World…You will not believe this, you guys were #2, we were #3 in that cell. Night mission, bad weather, lots of chatter on guard with LB2 in total chaos. We were headed North, the fighters pushing us to delay the turn as long as possible. You guys heard the radio frequency change for the fighters and changed to their channel and left the freq for the tanker cell. On the turn back to the south, we were in weather, so using the scope…On rollout, we only saw one tanker in front of us. Found out it was lead and we were now #2. No one knew where you guys were, including the controller. More fighters came up and we had to stay busy so little time to worry about you guys. About 20-30 mins later the controller came on to tell us he had located you guys and was directing you to hook up with us again. We tried to do it like a BUF hookup with you guys heading south 3 miles off our left wing and then you guys turned in behind us. However, in your 180 degree turn to come in behind our cell, you way over shot and were about 3 miles now off our right wing and ahead of us. At that time, I remember Bruce coming on radio and telling all F—It, we are headed back to UT and you departed. Later in the club Bruce who was by then very intoxicated told me you were full throttle heading southbound and max speed so that in your turn you way overshoot. How far into NVA did you guys get? I think he said you were very close to Hanoi? You are very lucky your plane is not on this list for downed Aircraft. Did I get it right? You might want to give your version of this as it is rare to have such a close call and 42 years later be able to tell the actual story. it is also a war story I have recited on some other forums and no one believed it. Also, this is pretty far off topic for this forum. Can you e mail me privately at I’d love to talk more. Scott

        Also, to the moderator…..It might not be too far off topic to have a section for very close calls and get these recorded before our generation is gone. I have one that might have been the worst mid air in history of USAF. It involved 2 tankers and 5 or 6 other planes in SEA and we missed a mid air by mere feet. Only the grace of God and shear luck on the part of our co-pilot did we avoid that.


        Comment by Scott Nelms | September 16, 2014

      • Clarence Vold…you mention a couple of names I know quite well. Mark “King” Cole and Neal Jackson. I met Mark at Grissom when we opened the AFRES unit there in 1978 and have kept track of him ever since. Despite his wild and crazy persona, he is still one of the best KC135 IP’s I have known. He still lives in Indy, is still single, and we get together from time to time during the races at the Brickyard. I hired Neal Jackson as a pilot in the 78th ARS when we stood up the KC10 unit at Barksdale in the 80s, when he was living in the Houston area and I believe he was working for a NASA contractor. Last I heard from him, he was in the Seattle area. Small world.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | September 15, 2014

      • I had forgotten the “King” with Mark. I kept telling him he was an imposter and the only King Cole was Nat. When we were at UT there were numerous groups enjoying adult beverages. For whatever reason Mark and I started pushing/pulling each other around and he tried to throw me to the ground but failed. He stopped and said “You’re awful stout.”

        Can you set the record straight on a question for Mark? I heard later that on one flight there was a maintenance issue that Mark as aircraft commander felt was unsafe for take-off and would not fly. According to the story I heard, the Ops Officer came out to the aircraft and fired Mark.

        Neal and I were on the same crew and we pulled satellite alert at Minot AFB. On our first alert there we were the flight crew going to Minot and after landing we had to get the aircraft refueled and cocked on alert. We finished with that about 3 PM on a Wednesday and I didn’t see Neal again until the following Monday, he spent most of the time sleeping and his hours were out of phase with the rest of the crew. One time he alleged to have slept for 23 hours straight

        In my opinion both were great guys and I enjoyed their friendship and flying with both.

        Comment by Clarence Vold | September 16, 2014

      • Clarence Vold…I can’t verify the incident with King Cole not accepting an airplane. Next time I see him, I’ll try and remember (before too many beers are consumed and the lying starts) to ask him if that ever took place. I left the Grissom AFRES unit in 1979, to go to ACSC then came here to Barksdale in ’81 to stand up the KC10 unit. King was an IP when I left Grissom. I was the one (Chief Pilot at the time) who stood up for him and his abilities as an IP when everyone else thought he was to wild and crazy. To be honest, his persona in an airplane as an IP was totally different. He knew the book and knew how to fly by it, and demanded the same. I had been a Castle IP for 5 years before joining the AFRES unit at Grissom, so knew what “flying by the book” was all about.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | September 16, 2014

      • That pretty well fits my memory of Mark. In the cockpit serious and mission oriented except for one incident when he told the navigator, “Dizzy, I’d hate to whip your ass in the Hanoi Hilton.” That is a true story and his exact words. You might also ask him about the TACAN breaking lock 200 NM north of NKP.

        I do remember he had a habit of occasionally standing up in a bar and saying he could whip anyone in the place but I don’t remember anyone taking him up on the challenge.

        Comment by Clarence Vold | September 17, 2014

  32. KCQ-135 58-0039 I have been researching this crash for a long time and this is the first time I have actually read any comments about this crash. I was in the fourth grade when my uncle was killed in this crash and it devastated my grand parents, 2nd LT. Elmo (Sonny) Evans co-pilot was the youngest in the family. I have used google map to find the vicinity of the crash near the small village of Centenera. The Air Force informed my grand parents that lightning struck the plane and exploded in flight, I have a picture of the crash that was in the local paper and nothing was left of the KC and the only thing that was recognizable was the landing gear. I would like to know more information about this incident and if their are any photos taken back at the base of the wreckage. Our family was never informed of any details that were posted by the crew chief that replied, I thank you for the information

    Comment by Bill Braithwaite | November 15, 2012 | Reply

  33. 5-Mar-74 17-1500 A McConnell Crashed on takeoff; applied wrong rudder
    7 crew members were on board this morning flight. 2 perished. It was eerie driving past the wreckage going to Building 1. The co-pilot was upgrading to AC when the engine failed. He was one fatality. There was a staff navigator who was along for the ride to get his flight time in for the month. He was riding in the cargo compartment and was killed. The five survivors escaped thru the pilots windows. The plane crashed about 2,000 feet from the end of the runway and had not had to much altitude.

    Comment by Steve Derry | November 29, 2012 | Reply

    • I forgot to mention I was a boomer.

      Comment by Steve Derry | January 12, 2013 | Reply

  34. Here is another link on the KC-135 1989 crash at Dyess AFB, the tanker was from K.I. Sawyer AFB.

    Comment by David Fransen | February 6, 2013 | Reply

  35. I was station at Castle AFB from 1975 to1981 and remember the one crash that happened at Beale in 1997 and jist missed seeing the one that crashed in 1997. Although I did watch it burn from the crash recovery wagon. I also was involved in removing parts from the a/c later. It is sad that people lost their lives. But, if I remember right, there were also 2 people who survived.

    Comment by Rodney Leonard | February 11, 2013 | Reply

  36. The Mid-air of 8-Jul-64 60-0340 KC-135/F105 did not occur during air refueling. It occurred during the rendezvous when the tanker was in the left turn toward the air refueling track. The board determined that instead of having 1000 ft. vertical separation, altimeter errors in both aircraft caused them to be at the same altitude.

    Comment by Art Schefler | February 14, 2013 | Reply

  37. I was a crew chief on 63-7983 at Grissom for a while. It did crash at Howard.

    Comment by Andy Anderson | March 15, 2013 | Reply

    • I was one of the flight surgeons at Grissom AFB when the -135 crashed in Panama. There were several factors identified. #1 was that the a/c was a low-time left-seater and the co-pilot had perhaps only several hundred hours, minimal -135 time. They flew their aircraft to Panama for a routine several week TDY. They finished a night mission, returned to the field in the midst of the night and very dark. The runway was downsloping several degrees leading to an optical illusion that they were lower than their actual altitude. Post-accident simulation showed that they were at about 200 feet? of altitude when the a/c pulled the throttles back to flight idle? The simulation showed that he had only about 1 second or so to realize his mistake and throttle back up or they were committed to crashing. They came down and hit the runway with about 9 G’s of force and ripped the right? outer engine off of the wing, tearing out the hydraulic line to the flaps and opening the fuel lines. Apparently the outer engine is designed? or destined to separate from the wing at about 7 G’s of upperward force. The pilot had 40 degrees of flaps set for the relatively short runway. As mentioned in a prior post about a takeoff with 40 degrees of flaps, the aircraft has more drag than lift at that setting. It was pitch black and certainly the pilots must have been dazed at that point and had difficulty assessing the situation. The a/c decided to go around and lifted back up. They did manage to climb out but civilians in their homes in the climb-out path from the runway stated that the intensity of the right wing fire caused the outside to appear as if daylight almost as the aircraft passed overhead. The airplane now had only three functioning engines but also 40 degrees of flaps. Their speed deteriorated and they entered a Dutch roll from which they were not able to recover. The airplane crashed and all were lost. The co-pilot was a very young fellow and I had the sad responsibility of flying to his home in Missouri or Arkansas (details somewhat hazy) shortly thereafter to interview his equally young wife for the accident investigation board. In my mind I always felt that this was another crash where the fault lay not so much with the crew but a failure to give proper and adequate training for a “young” and inexperienced crew at a different and clearly problematic field (downsloping runway with resulting optical illusion). Also pitch black in the dead of night. Also apparent failure to train crews to know that setting 40 degrees of flaps and (while unlikely an occurrence) losing one engine would most likely put the crew into the accident column. As a physician and only a civilian pilot, I knew then and know now that I was clearly ignorant of many of the details. It was and is just sad to see young aviators lose their lives in this manner. I suspect their family members still miss them. I would appreciate any information from any of the Grissom pilots/crew who were based at GAFB and really knew the details and the crew. I was honored to serve with them.

      Comment by Stephen David Watson, M.D., Ph.D. | March 23, 2013 | Reply

      • RE: In my mind I always felt that this was another crash where the fault lay not so much with the crew but a failure to give proper and adequate training for a “young” and inexperienced crew at a different and clearly problematic field (downsloping runway with resulting optical illusion). Also pitch black in the dead of night. Also apparent failure to train crews to know that setting 40 degrees of flaps and (while unlikely an occurrence) losing one engine would most likely put the crew into the accident column. As a physician and only a civilian pilot, I knew then and know now that I was clearly ignorant of many of the details. It was and is just sad to see young aviators lose their lives in this manner.

        Doc., In reference to your thoughts, I do not necessary disagree with them, but would think that the overall accident statistics for certain time periods would bear out your thesis and I do not see that being the case. During the early 70’s, due to the Vietnam war, tanker pilots were upgrading to A/C starting with about 18 months as a co-pilot, I know that had not been the case in the years before that and doubt that was the case in the 80’s and since. Many of the crews were right out of UPT low time A/C’s with low time co-pilots flying a far inferior Aircraft which then had poor electronics, was still water injected and had no reverse thrust. I am talking the time period from 1971-75 and during that same time period it included many many sorties flown in bad conditions at strange fields. I am thinking the youngest and most inexperienced crews in history flew the outdated KC’s during the early 70’s, yet it does not appear the accident rate reflects this inexperience or lack of training or lack of high tech simulators. JMO, and there are probably more reliable stats than just looking at the destroyed Aircraft #’s.

        Comment by Scott Nelms | March 24, 2013

      • I was assigned to the 305th Air Refueling Wing when this tragedy occurred. I worked very close with the flight schedulers at the time . The A/C was relatively new at the base and I was present when his training was discussed. It was fast tracked so he could do this mission. I’ve always believed that if more training had been done this tragedy would have been avoided.

        Comment by John Moyer | May 3, 2013

      • I was at KGUS at the time of the crash and my recollection of the accident briefing is somewhat different. The AC was from the 70th AREFS and the remainder of the crew was from the 305th AREFS. The AC was new to the unit but not to the airplane, and had not deployed to Panama before. The BO was very experienced but the CP and Nav were indeed relatively “young” to the airplane and had never been to Panama. The CP made the approach. Just prior to the deployment the CP had flown a number of T-37 ACE sorties. Landing the T-37 utilizes a different runway aim point and flare technique than the KC-135 and apparently the CP utilized the T-37 procedure. The AC did not recognize the dangerous sink rate and attitude given the night approach to a dark and unfamiliar field, and the accident subsequently occurred as you describe. During climb out, however, the airplane could not achieve the necessary climb rate to clear the mountain at the departure end of the runway and struck the ridge. The initial impact site was on the proximal side of the mountain with the main debris field on the distal side. My own belief is that even if the airplane cleared the ridge and gained altitude it was otherwise non-recoverable.

        I take issue with the conclusions regarding 40 degrees of flaps. Landing with 3 engines typically used 40 flaps (rather than the max of 50) precisely because in the event of a go-around with 3 engines the airplane would indeed fly with 40 flaps long enough to stabilize and, according to routine and emergency checklists, raise the flaps to 30 which provided best lift/drag. At lot of pilots preferred 40 flaps, rather than 50, under normal conditions because they argued it made for “sweeter” landings, so 40 flaps was not unusual and would have been the setting that the AC and CP routinely trained with. Under the conditions of engine loss, controllability, fire, and disorientation, raising the flaps from 40 to 30 would have been an afterthought and ultimately made little difference.

        Aside from the procedural errors, the board determined that the inexperienced AC from one squadron should not have been paired with an inexperienced crew from the other squadron in deploying to a foreign field with challenging approaches and go-around procedures. The wing also instituted a procedure whereby CPs could not have their last landing prior to deployment in a T-37 rather than a KC-135.

        Comment by Robert "DrBob" Hopkins | May 5, 2013

      • I went through tanker school at Castle about the same time as Scott Nelms. After arriving a Wright Patt, I was fast tracked to aircraft commander at about 30 months on active duty. We soon went to UTapao, and when checking in at tanker ops, i had to fill out a flying time and experience form. As I handed it to the Major, he quickly scanned it and passed it back over the counter pointing out that i had made an error and needed to put my total flying time in the bottom box, not just in the tanker. I responded that was my total flying time (just under 700 hours including UPT). He gave me a long look, shook his head and took the form back for the file. it became routine to see First Lieutenant ACs.and none of us young ones had over 1000 hours total time Scott said it right- we were trained rigorously – my final upgrade ride was a fighter drag, USA, Hickam, Anderson, into the ADIZ to pick up the F-100s and back to over the pond. When i closed my eyes I saw checklists, i never flew a mission as a co-pilot or upgrade that we didn’t do 10 or 20 landings, simulated engine failures, everything the IPs could think of, and more. We flew by the book, with few exceptions, and i am pretty sure not one of the low time crew dogs ever had an accident – a fair amount of self induced excitement,but no crashes. My tanker nemesis, 55-3139 (3138 and 3140 both crashed), was possessed by demons when I flew it and now resides at the Castle museum, where i occasionally visit and curse at the beast. I am sure it remembers me and the many times it tried to kill us all.

        And, for the crew in Manas:

        We are heartbroken by the loss of the KC-135 crew and the pain caused their families and friends. I flew “A” model tankers, now more than forty years ago. It was a great bird and got three 24 year old, brand new captains and their 19 year old boomer through bad weather, bad luck and bad judgment more times than we deserved. Since then, they have been rebuilt, re-engined, re-furbished and renewed in hopes of making them last until forever it seems. Our crews deserve better equipment. The airplanes are tired and every contemporary alternative makes more sense than keeping these ancient airframes in daily use. We do not know the cause, but it could be the old girl is telling us its time to park a few at museums, and make the rest into beer cans. Honor the bravery of the men and women who fly these planes every day by giving them the proper equipment- they already have the right stuff. God bless them all every day and for their mortal sacrifice.

        Comment by Hal King | May 5, 2013

      • Hal, In regards to lack of training, I finished Co-pilot training at Castle in late Dec. ’69. I arrived at Ellsworth on 12/21, on Christmas Eve I was pulling alert duty just for two nights with no alert training whatsoever, just to let some Sr. co-pilot spend Christmas Eve/Day with his family. In almost blizzard condiditons and about 2;30 a.m. Christmas morning they blew the Klaxon, I had no idea what to do but got my flight suit and socks on, did not yet have the zipper boots, so with boots and summer flight jacket in hand, tried to run down the very icey ramp and like many others fell and slid down, most trucks had their windshield covers suposedly blown off, but I think no one installed them, most trucks did not have their tank heaters plugged in and did not start. We and several other crews had to get to the planes by commondeering the commercial bread truck that was doing an early a.m. delivery. Only a couple of crews made it across the runway in line in the I believe 6 mins alloted time. All of Cristmas day was spent getting an ass chewing from the Sr Officers and some training. We heard we were the only base that failed the SAC-wide mock Alert. Guess what, we were the only base the next night at about 3 a.m.that had another Klaxon sound and all but one made it in time, It was so icey that that plane which was next to ours, spun 180 degrees when running #4 up to full throttle to get the bleed air and was now facing the blast fence. It would have been a great video but the crew did no get blamed and they somehow modified the chocks to try and prevent this from ever reoccuring, the radio chatter duing this also was very funny, but not at the time.

        On the crash side, on my first fighter drag(1970) we were escorting a whole squadron of fighters across the pond and we actually did a 20 ship tanker takeoff from Hickam to the long Guam flight, we had the fighters mixed with us to stay in a long formation that we never caught up to.

        We were last or tail end Charlie, by then the runwas temps had heated from all of the planes taking off in front of us, I think it was one minute intervals. Guess who lost all water just past S-1? Boy did it get quiet. We were heavyweight and had to rotate somewhere about halfway into the thresh-hold. We were vey low on airspeed and remember so mountains diretcly in front and the A/C started a show turn out to sea and the entire placn was severely vibrating as we were right at stall speed. My A/C at the time, was a Sr A/C and had been in the left seat for almost 4 years. He held me off from raising flaps and gear as he knew that we were at very critical airpeed and anything adding drag or eliminating lift would be our doom. He got the plane out over the water just off the beach and we were balls to the wall and less than 200′ AGL. I still remember looking almost directly into a couple of top story hotel restaurants on Waikiki and being eye level for people having an early sunday Morning brunch. Some were glued to the window as I can imagine the clack smoke and intense noise’. IF we had an inexperiied pilot flying the plane, we would be history and you folks talking about us. I think his skills as a pilot and his experience saved us. Howverer this same pilot on same trip spent the entire night in the U-Tapeo bar and showed up for the 6 am bus totally in the bag and reeking of alcohol. He expect me, a real rookie to fly the entire mission while he slept in the bunk. Non of the crew agreed, and we left him standing in the road and as soon as we reached tanker ops., I told them the A/C had Montozomas’s revenge and
        was too sick to fly, so they found a spare A/C. He got a free ride on this one, but did the same thing a few months later in Spain and again we called him in sick but this time the Flight Surgeon got involved, had him come in almost immediately and when we got home, he was notified he was transferring to Hawait in a PACAF staff job and they kept him away from flyng for the rest of his career. He had a second guy on a different crew do the same and was one reason SAC was forced to ungrade co-pilots fast. I upgraded at just over 18 months and within days was on another fighter drap with a brand new co-pilot and Nav. The Nav was a 2LT right out of Mather Nav School and he was 50 miles off course when with hit land on Hawaii, on the next days mission, we were still in the Islands climbing out and I looked out the A/C’s window and saw an Island that should be on our right side on our left side, he already was 10 miles off course, so I got out the MAC flight plan and followed the headings to Guam. In those days, no electronics for nav., just a sextent and short range radar and we were able to pick up a Tacan at about 200 miles. Guam is but a spec in that long flight and I had our nav shoot the sun line with the Sextant as it was a daytime mission, like most long over water missions.

        Just .02 from an old tanker trash type (what some of my hotshot fighter buddies liked to call us), I would be sure on every long flight to remind the fighters that it was steak and eggs for breakfast then naptime in the crew bunks and having access to a somewhat private john.

        Scott Nelms :
        former 28ARS with 3 90 days tours to SEA plus several 10-14 day fighter drags, we spent most time at U-Tapeo, but also flow out of Anderson, Kadena on this trips.

        Comment by Scott Nelms | May 6, 2013

      • I was assinged to the 305th Med Group at the time of the crash and worked in the lab and worked with Dr. Watson. I also lived in the enlisted aircrew barracks at the time of the crash. Many of us felt that it is was inexperience that was a big factor in the accident. At the time I believe that there was a shortage of crews and training was being fast tracked alot. As for the crews being a combination of the 70th and 305th that was most likely not a big deal, mixed crews flew together frequently. The boom operator on the flight was SSgt. Quinn L Dewitt. If I remember correctly he had two small children at the time of the crash. There was another boom operator that was scheduled to be on the flight but was taken off at the last moment and that was MSgt Jim Yardbourgh,(passed away 2012). The rest of the crew members were Capt Thomas McDerby, 1Lt. Wayne Ching, 1Lt John M. Bristow. For those of us that were in the Med Group and knew these men it was heartbreaking.

        Comment by Pam King | May 6, 2013

      • I went through AFROTC with the AC – “Derby” and I had the same first assignment at WPAFB, before he got selected for UPT (pilot slots were very rare when we were in college – AF needed engineers more than pilots). I last saw him the summer before the crash, when he brought a -135 down to the Dayton Air Show for a static display.

        I was stunned when I heard about the crash – I was expecting to see him later that summer at the wedding of a mutual friend. What little I heard, suggested “pilot error”, but I kept reminding myself that “pilot error” is not synonymous with “pilot negligence”. Tom was very smart and “detail oriented”, with a spirit of adventure (skydiving, hang-gliding, etc.) and “kept it together” under pressure. I remember telling people that he got more done in his 29 yrs than most people do in their whole lives! I knew his family well, and was able to attend the funeral. We all had a hard time accepting the reality. His parents are deceased, but he still has siblings. He’s buried at Arlington.

        As to “what happened”, I am curious about a few things (got civilian pilot license in college), if anybody can elaborate:

        1) Was the weather VMC at the time? If so, wasn’t there some kind of visual slope indicator (VASI)?

        2) Was this their first night approach/landing at Howard AFB? Assume their arrival was daytime.

        3) One post I found online at says that the CP was flying a PAR approach – assume that was based on the AC working the comms – didn’t the approach controller see that they were off glide slope? wouldn’t SOP have been to stay with him to minimums?

        4) That same post on page 85 has a note signed by Dan (assume Dan Rapp from the photo credit). Any idea how to find him?

        5) I’ve seen an account that said they lost the #3 engine – that didn’t seem to make sense, unless they physically lost both, since #4 is the outboard?

        6) You mention “tearing out the hydraulic line to the flaps”; if the flaps could not be raised (and landing gear?), it seems that they were doomed as soon as power was applied to go around. Perhaps the crash would have been survivable if they had cut the power and stayed on the runway.

        Comment by Henry | August 30, 2014

      • Hello Henry,

        I truly am sorry for your loss. I had the opportunity to speak to Thomas’ sister about a year ago. The Air Force had never told Thomas’ family anything! They wondered, I am sure, as you alluded to about the cause and whether Thomas made a mistake (pilot error) or somehow was otherwise (negligence?) at fault. Recall that I am just the flight surgeon but not totally ignorant on flying issues. You certainly deserve to have an Air Force tanker pilot respond to your question. I have about 730 hours in singles and twins with commercial, multi and instrument ratings. That said, I will answer your questions to the limited extent that I can do so.

        1. I believe that the weather was VMC. I do not believe that the weather was cited as a problem. 2. I am not sure that this was the very first night approach for this crew. I do know that they certainly had minimal landings there at night. As a civilian pilot, I do believe that we had to do 3 night landings before we could get our private license. These two unfortunate pilots did not have even that number of landings if I recall. They had only been there for a short time and I do not remember if they had any night flying or not. I do not believe that they did. 3. The approach was definitely not flown as a PAR approach. My understanding was that the pilots were flying visually with heads out of the cockpit. Also, while there was usually but I do not know if always a SOF on the flightline at Grissom when I was there, I do not recall if there was one on the ground in Panama. You should also know that in 1977-8 at Grissom, we were told that the only reason that we still had an operating PAR at the time was because of having the A-10 warthogs because they did not have a localizer with a glideslope installed. At that time, the rest of the bases were having their PAR’s decommissioned. I was fortunate to fly a practice PAR or two in a civilian plane there at GAFB. The issue, as brought out by the accident investigation board, was that the runway was downsloaping, if I am not goofy. Because of this, the pilots felt they were lower than they really were in reality. When they reached the visual point where they would normally flare, they were still 200 feet up and that was what created the fatal acceleration of the plane to the ground. 4. I have not seen the picture. I do not, unfortunately know Dan. 5. I do recall just one engine was lost. I believe that it was the inboard engine. The initial landing seemed to be in the 8 or 9 G range (honestly, I cannot be absolutely sure what number). The important thing was that the engine pylons were made either intentionally or unintentionally to break at approximately a 7G load, as I seem to recall. It does make sense that the inboard engine would exceed the allowable threshold before the outboard engine because the acceleration of the inboard engine with the sudden stop of the wing is greater than the sudden acceleration of the outboard engine. The acceleration of the outboard engine would be diminished somewhat by the downward flex of the wing thereby diminishing the relative acceleration of the engine with respect to the wing. 6. I do believe that the conclusion the board came to and certainly I, as a non-military pilot, came to was that they were doomed when the throttles were pushed back up for a go around. They were able to fly in ground effect but not higher up. They started Dutch rolling as I recall and never could get their speed up enough. I believe that the speed decayed and they stalled. It was not a case of the wing breaking off in flight. I learned to fly a taildragger for my initial license. It has been 29 years since then. I seem to recall that if I made a particularly significant bounce on landing, my instructor would have me just go around rather than continuing to try to salvage the landing. Trying to do so in a conventional-gear aircraft frequently leads to a ground loop. It also leads to landing long, particularly not good in a high speed jet. That clearly would have been one of Thomas’ concerns there in Panama because the field was fairly minimal in length. I do not believe that there were any recriminations leveled at Thomas because his basic decision-making, once he landed the first time, was to go around and come back for a stabilized landing. He could not know he dropped an engine and tore out the hydraulics. 6. I am very fuzzy about the end conclusions of the review board. I personally do not recall any overall tenor of blaming either or both of the pilots. Note was made of Thomas’ recent upgrade to the left seat and the low-time of the right seater. The visual illusion of the runway was an important factor and the fact that the night was apparently pitch black further exacerbating the landing difficulty. I personally came away believing that these two pilots were put in a difficult position without adequate training. Their decisions were clearly (in hindsight) erroneous but understandable in the context of the situation in which they found themselves. I would hope that you will hear from an Air Force pilot who really can give you more specific information and not just me. Finally, you nor Thomas’ family have any reason to have anything but pride in the man that you knew as a friend and cohort. I believe that his record stands on its own merit and to think in terms of pilot error is grossly skewing the situation away from the reality. Thomas was set-up, however innocently. Take care.

        Comment by Stephen Watson | September 9, 2014

  38. Scott, your argument clearly sounds more cogent than mine. As I said, I am sure that I missed many small details that aircrew would have caught and it was 27 years ago! It is amazing that young pilots flew those A models with heavy loads, poor conditions, etc. with as good accident statistics as they were. Perhaps that speaks to the quality of the pilots and their instructors. The instructor pilots that I knew at Grissom were not always on the fast track for promotion but could really fly that airplane. Your point about the lack of high tech simulators, etc. in the ’80s is also so true. As just a civilian pilot (700+ hours, instrument, multi and commercial ratings), I flew enough to know that either you have the feel for the airplane and know how to control it without having to think OR you are behind the power curve always trying to catch up. I was always amazed when I had the opportunity to fly with Grissom crews. It seemed as if that tanker was almost an extension of the pilots’s minds and bodies. It was always a pleasure and I always felt that I was with professionals.

    Comment by Stephen David Watson, M.D., Ph.D. | March 25, 2013 | Reply

    • Doc, In a final comment on this….my thoughts on why we did not see a “spike” in crashes with these Junior crews is the fact that a Junior crew knows their limitations, seldom took chances and almost always “followed the book”. You may see this in your profession, maybe with the Surgeons. I saw this in the USAF, as crews gained confidence some would take shortcuts, be more prone to break the rules such as ignoring visability minimums or drinking the night before an early a.m. flight and attempt things that the Rookies would never attempt. To vividly illustrate this, I would suggest that anyone that is interested in this subject and has not seen the “Bud Holland” crash on video and read the sad story, do so. Just google “bud holland B-52 crash” and you will see a horrendous 1994 crash with the chief Stan-Eval pilot at the controls and a very senior crew on-board. Obviously, no inexperienced crew, where the boom operator did not know whether ” to salute us or burp us” (a term our senior Boomers loved to us) would attempt such a foolhardy stunt. What makes this crash even worse was the fact that the families of many on board witnessed this tragic event as they were practicing for an Airshow.

      Comment by Scott Nelms | March 25, 2013 | Reply

      • You are correct. I do remember that crash. That pilot was showing off. Unfortunately, he killed not only himself but the other crew as well. As I recall, there was a more senior IP or wing pilot on board because no one else wanted to fly with him because of his reputation. All very, very sad. I understand that he was trying to make a steep turn of presumably 50-60 degrees. I suppose that to be within the capability of the B-52. It appeared that he rolled from an acceptable 50-60 degrees to almost 90 degrees and fell off on that wing to the impact point. Did he likely hit turbulence from a previous pass that caused him to roll? I was told that one of our tanker pilots (not one of the good ones) was #2 or #3 in a MITO takeoff. He must have hit the wake turbulence from the aircraft in front of him and his plane was rolling off far enough that the IP with him had to take over. I believe that the left seater was trying to correct only with aileron control and not with rudder as well. That could have been a similar loss. Thank you for your insights and recollections. I loved everything about the flying in the air force. Obviously, I was not a military pilot so I saw things only from a distance and never really fully understood the issues as I was not a military pilot. I have enjoyed talking with you.

        Comment by Stephen David Watson, M.D., Ph.D. | March 25, 2013

      • The Bud Holland accident is attributable to the same contributing cause as the KC-135 accident at Fairchild; Generals trying to make a peace-time force into an attractive air demonstration team that the aircraft were not meant for. I was at 8th Air Force in the KC-135 division continually briefing General Schuler and discussing with Boeing the hazards of these low altitude events. They also had the idiotic idea of doing low altitude refueling (500 feet).

        Howard AFB contributing factor was also a low altitude go around after the high G landing with the flaps stuck at 40 degrees AND the loss of Powered Rudder which would have helped maintain aircraft control.

        Comment by fuji | May 6, 2013

      • Fuji, In regards to idiodic Generals, on my last flight home from U/T, we were flying the leg from Anderson to Hickam and had a 3 star on board. He sat in the jump seat on takeoff and on climbout, during the climbout, we notice #4 oil pressure kept dropping to zero. I told the General I was going to have to dump fuel and return to base…SOP, before I could make that radio call, he reached up and placed #4 into idle. And told me to proceed, I think this guy was Commander of 15th AF, what am I supposed to do? Anyway, we flew that 8 hour over water trip on 3 engines and upon reaching Hawaii called approach control and were told we were #10 to land at Hickam. Of course, that was not good enough for the General so he told me to declare VFR, breaking another SAC rule as we always flew IFR when transit. That turned into a fiasco, as there was heavy weather around and we were in and out of clouds, my 2LT Nav was totally lost and approach control cleared us to land at their shortest runway with no ILS. It was raining, we had trouble seeing the field and to make it a total clusterf..k, we were on short final behind a C-5 and I hit his jet wash just prior to touching down, resulting in an uncontrolled really crappy landing with a Lt. General looking over my right shoulder. I expected to catch hell from him and I sat in my seat totally pizzed at everything, not wanting to get up until the plane unloaded. About 5 minutes later, I was still in the cockpit alone and I felt a hand on my shoulder and it was the General, he apologized to me for taking over my plane and said he knew he asked me to break rules and he should not have done so, but he was headed for a meeting and was cutting it real close. He then said he thought I did a great job after hitting the jet wash and he hoped he could fly with me again. It helped but I was still pizzed at the whole deal. Just wondering if anyone else has had a flying situation like this, where safety rules are very clear but a General (3 star no less) asks/tells you to break them?

        Comment by Scott Nelms | May 6, 2013

      • Scott—I believe I flew with the same general, a LtGen who was the 15th AF/CC. He tried to aerobrake a KC-135 on landing. I have never met a worse pilot or meaner person in the Air Force. I flew with a lot of generals, but he was awful.

        Comment by Robert "DrBob" Hopkins | May 7, 2013

  39. 19 September 1979 58-0127 KC-135 Castle AFB

    I was a flight surgeon at Grissom AFB from 1977-1980. Since this accident happened with an aircraft I flew in all the time, I had a rather intense interest in the cause. I also had taken the Crash Survival Investigators School course in Tucson, so I wondered what the accident investigation revealed about this crash and survivability.

    The crew members were:

    Capt. Milton O. Buchanan, 37 (student pilot). He had previously been in the USAF and had almost 600 hours of KC-135 flight time. He had returned to active duty earlier that summer of 1979. Because of his prior flight time, he was considered very proficient for a student pilot.
    Capt. George W. Ziegler, 31 (instructor pilot). He also was well respected as an IP.
    Capt. Earle B. Squire, 28 (instructor navigator)
    SMSgt. Albert L. Evans, 46 (instructor boom operator)
    Capt. Mark L. Dobbs, 28 (student co-pilot)

    Survivors (both were in the aft fuselage in the side troop seats):
    Capt. Brian W. Burns 31 (evaluator navigator)
    MSgt. David R. Moore 35 (evaluator boom operator)

    58-0127 and crew were on a training flight, had completed the air refueling and celestial navigation segments, and then returned to Castle for transition work with 55,000 lbs of fuel remaining. The transition included several missed approaches and then several touch and goes. On the fifth touch and go, the crew planned to do a “simulated engine failure, take off continued on the runway” emergency procedure. The weather was VFR, clear, dry and no crosswind.

    After touch down 1800 feet from the approach end of runway 30, the flaps and trim were properly reset and power was advanced and stabilized. Then, with over 6000 feet of runway remaining, the #1 engine throttle was retarded to idle to simulate engine failure. At that same moment, the aircraft was rotated enough to lift the nose wheel off the runway, and simultaneously full LEFT rudder was applied — rather than the correct input of right rudder.

    At that point in time the aircraft was slightly nose up, right wing low but began a rapidly increasing yaw and roll to the left, all in response to the incorrect control input. During the subsequent accident analysis, it was determined that the pilot has only 2.25 seconds to react and accomplish full rudder reversal, or the vertical fin stalls and recovery is impossible. Under ideal conditions, the pilot requires 2.5 – 3.5 seconds to apply full right rudder (1 – 2 seconds reaction time and 1.5 seconds for the rudder to travel full left to full right).

    A witness observed the rudder was repositioned to full right, and control surfaces indicated the wheel was full right, so an attempt at recovery was made, but was aerodynamically impossible. The aircraft continued to roll left and rapidly yaw to the left. The #1 engine began to scrape the runway, followed by the left wing tip which caused the left wing surge tank to explode. Six seconds after the incorrect control input, the aircraft had turned almost 90 degrees from the runway centerline heading and had travelled just a little over 1200 feet. This was when the nose hit the ground, just forward of the crew entry hatch. The cockpit compartment then separated from fuselage and the forward body fuel tank, containing 7000 pounds of fuel, exploded. The remaining aircraft fuselage continued to pivot counter clockwise and the tail contacted the ground in the area of the boom pod. The fuselage then slid backwards about another 350 feet and had turned more than 270 degrees from the initial runway heading. All five crew members in the cockpit were fatalities from fire (mostly) or impact. The two crew members in the back (Capt. Burns and MSgt. Moore) were able to escape through an aft escape hatch without significant injury — at least physical injury — I always wondered if they ever flew again.

    This emergency maneuver had been approved for student pilot training after test flights in March 1976 performed by highly qualified USAF instructor pilots. A formal aerodynamic analysis was not requested. The Boeing 707 instructor school in Seattle at that time conducted the same maneuver only from a simulated STATIC position rather than actually in flight on the runway. The USAF IPs recommended that rotation of the aircraft be delayed until rudder and directional control was stabilized. That recommendation however was not in the final training regulation for some reason.

    The cockpit procedural trainer at that time taught student pilots to look down INTO the cockpit to determine which engine had failed, rather than look OUTSIDE the cockpit for visual clues (yaw and roll) to determine correct control inputs which was what was taught in the actual aircraft. Visual flight simulators were not in use then.

    The crucial reaction time required was not discovered during the test flights because a trajectory and aerodynamic analysis was not done until this accident occurred. The pilot would have to immediately apply corrective right rudder by the time it had reached full left, or recovery would be impossible. It left no time for the normal human delay to recognize what is wrong and then begin to react. It was determined that a delay of only one second meant recovery was impossible.

    As a result of this KC-135 crash, it was recommended that student pilots and copilots be prohibited from performing the “simulated engine failure, take off continued on the runway” procedure pending further study. It was to be limited to demonstration by IP and IP student pilots only, and only by the pilot actually flying. It was recommended that the training for the procedure in the KC-135 cockpit procedures trainers be terminated. Other training materials for this problem were to be made. A recommendation for visual flight training simulators like we have today was made. Flight data recorders like the airlines have now also was a recommendation.

    The loss of these five guys was the result of a number of human errors that really began three years before their last flight and continued up until the last few seconds.

    Comment by Dan Kangley | April 3, 2013 | Reply

    • Here’s my slant on this…

      I was a boom operator, 24 years old, flying for the AF Reserves at Grissom in 1978. As a boom operator I was sitting in the left seat flying the tanker for a touch and go. I flew the downwind leg, turned base, to a visual approach.

      I crossed Indiana Highway 31 at about 200 feet and touched down after a perfect flair. Okay, No BS.. I was a boomer (IBO) with only two previous landings in a tanker thanks to my former A/C Footer (you all know Footer).

      On the touch and go the IP (John Mickley) pulled the number one engine to idle.. luckily I stepped on the correct rudder, looked over at John and and we both laughed our ass off.

      Now I have to ask.. what if.

      We survived and I had bragging rights to a perfect landing and a decent take off..with help. .

      Comment by | April 5, 2013 | Reply

    • Dan, I was a Castle IP from Aug 1973 until I joined the Reserves at Grissom in Apr 1978. I was part of the group that did the tests at Castle as I was the training flight IP at the time. At Grissom we did EFTOC’s in training and when the Castle crash occurred I got the analysis you mention and conducted a briefing on what took place.

      I have the diagram that shows distance down the runway, angle off runway c/l, sideslip, bank, and pitch at 4 different data points over the 6 seconds before the airplane departed the runway. The airplane touched down 1800 feet down the runway, the trajectory analysis started 3400 feet later, with 6000 feet remaining. The first data point at 2.5 sec has the heading 16 degrees left, .5 sec later it’s 25 degrees left, .5 sec later 41 degrees left when the #1 engine struck the ground, 28 degrees sideslip, 11 1/2 degrees bank, and 8 degrees nose up. When the airplane departed the runway it had turned 86 degrees left. When the fuselage stopped it was headed 15 degrees to the right of runway heading, having made over a 360 degree turn. The cockpit was aligned approximately 45 degrees left of the fuselage centerline.

      I also have all the local/area newspaper articles about the crash. One thing I noticed was that both engines #1 & #2 on the left wing, and one (can’t tell which one) on the right are missing, and the only part of the fuselage remaining is from the leading edge of the wing back. It’s sitting on both main gears with the tail on the ground.

      Comment by Jon Mickley | December 5, 2013 | Reply

  40. The aircraft that you have listed that crashed on Sept 26, 1976 as aircraft 61-0269 was actually 61-0296 from K.I.Sawyer crashed near Alpena, Michigan. I assigned personnel to fly on that aircraft and have never forgotten a friend of mine that was killed on it.

    Comment by Ted McKee | April 8, 2013 | Reply

  41. Was crew chief on KC-135Q 59-1520. Only incident I ever had was on 1490 when we lost water on the two inboard engines just before S-1. Stopped on the over run at Kadena. This was sometime in 71 or 72 can not remember. Was ground refueling at Kadena when the SR-71 crashed and was headed right for us, I believe in July of 72. Would do it all over again if I could.

    Comment by Neal Pinkowski | April 23, 2013 | Reply

  42. Hello. I was crew chief on a Q at Kadeba in 71+72 and we would get one from Mc Coy I believe it was like every six weeks. By any chance where you one one of them? 1520 was my bird.

    Comment by Neal Pinkowski | May 5, 2013 | Reply

  43. You’re missing the 57-1418 over pressurization mishap at Tinker on Apr 7, 1999.

    Comment by Michael Spray | May 6, 2013 | Reply

    • This list only includes events with an aircrew operating the aircraft.

      Comment by Boom | May 6, 2013 | Reply

  44. I navved at Loring AFB from 76-80. During this time they instituted a spouse flight program. We were briefed that against regulation two wives were in the pilot and copilot seats, at I believe FL 310, when the autopilot came or was bumped off. The IP had 5 seconds to stabilize the aircraft but did not. The acceleration was so great the aircraft came apart at 10,000 feet. After this incident I recall they first changed the program to only allow a spouse to fly not with her husband, since it orphaned one or more children. Later they cancelled the program. I cannot find any accident in your list that matches up with this. I remember accident briefings like this vividly because on duty at Loring, on alert for a week at a time with sub-zero temps, you had plenty of time to visualize.
    Regarding inflight refueling in low level, as desired for an air show, we may have conducted the lowest-level refueling when returning to Mildenhall from Torrejon in 1979, before going back to Loring. An F111 heard a loud noise on the runway during a touch and go at night and was circling. We rendezvoused and gave him fuel in a toboggan between 7500 and 5000 feet. The boom was binding at the end and broke due to aircrafts’ angles of attack. The boom operator’s window was flooded with JP4. I shown the Aldis lamp on the F111 through the wing hatch window, pilot reported to the F111 he had lost one of his landing gear. Runway had been foamed by this time, they landed and engaged the barrier, did not know it, tried to go around and slammed down on one side, but walked away from this and the aircraft was sunsequently fixed. They bought us beer the next day. Harry Brodock was the a/c.

    Comment by Thomas Blow | May 7, 2013 | Reply

    • The 4950th TW EC-135N 61-0328 (call sign AGAR 23) in-flight disintegration you mention took place on 6 May 81, near Walkersville, MD. The airplane had a total time of 13,471.2 hours

      Comment by Robert "DrBob" Hopkins | May 7, 2013 | Reply

      • To DrBob, I bought your book.unfortunately, my house had a major flood and your treatise on Tankers was a casualty. I don’t suppose i can get another copy. I did see a copy at some bizarre location in the UK. Perhaps Bletchley or the Cold War Museum in Cheshire.

        Comment by Steve Francis | May 7, 2013

      • Everything you have said is copeaseticee with me on that concering TW EC-135N. I lost a very good frined in that one.R.I.P. Mike Raiely he was a B & H CIV.contractor on board.

        Comment by RUSS ADAMS | May 7, 2013

      • Amazon. AbeBooks. Google. E-Bay.

        Comment by Robert "DrBob" Hopkins | May 7, 2013

  45. Russ, This is Jim Egan. I flew with you on my crew. Would love to get in touch with you. My email is hope to hear from you

    Comment by James G Egan | May 7, 2013 | Reply

  46. The 1986 grissom crash. The co-pilot hit the flightline too hard in his touch and go. It ruptured a fuel cell and when the plane went airborne the wing ignited and the plane exploded. I may be aging but that was at grissom. I was catching the plane that night when it crashed. It was returning from panama. I didnt want to go so another crew chief took my place. They all died.

    Comment by xavier | May 27, 2013 | Reply

  47. Please note that the crew involved in the 3 May 13 crash was from Fairchild AFB

    Comment by Barry Cohen | July 10, 2013 | Reply

  48. Does anyone have any info about the Carswell accident 13 Mar 72, 0048? I am looking for the names of the crew members. I have the boomer’s name but have not been able to fine the pilots names and the nav’s name. I was a member of the 7th ARS just prior to the accident.

    Comment by John Stevens | July 10, 2013 | Reply

    • The navigator was Maj. John L. Snow. I was stationed with him in Thailand two years prior where we were C-123 forward air controllers. He attended the KC-135 school in 1971 where I was an instructor nav. He had previously served in B-58 operations. Maj. Snow was only a year or two from retirement.

      Comment by George Keene | August 21, 2013 | Reply

    • A/C: Maj Charles N. Ventimiglia, 46, Brooklyn, NY
      Co: 1Lt Alexander E. McCarthy, 25, Phoenix, AZ
      Co: Capt John C. North, 26, Enid, OK
      Nav: Maj John L. Snow, 40, Springfield, MO
      BO: A1C Bruce J. Klaverkamp, 19, St Cloud, MN

      Comment by Hoctor | November 26, 2013 | Reply

  49. Why is it that KC-135A, 61-0273 is not listed? That was the tanker that crashed as a result of a mid-air over Palomares, Spain, with a B-52G, T/N# 58-0256. This resulted in the loss of 4 nukes, later recovered 2 whole and two which ruptured spilling their radioactive material on Spanish soil. The crew on the tanker were: Major Emil T. Chapla (dead,) Capt. Paul R. Lane (missing,) Capt. Leo M. Simmons (missing) and MSgt. Lloyd C. Potoliccio (dead.) While MSgt. Potoliccio, is listed on the memorial, the only aircraft on the KC’s that crashed on 17 Jan 1966, is one from Amarillo, TX., T/N#57-1424. How did an event that was news around the world get left off the listing of destroyed tankers? I know it was news, as I was the Minot AFB, newspaper editor at the time. That was before I became a ’135 boomer.

    Comment by H. Lee Tedder |7 July 2013| Reply

    Comment by H Lee Tedder | July 17, 2013 | Reply

    • Thanks for your comment. I have updated the list with this accident. I’m guessing that I skipped over it because there was another crash that occurred on the same day and I skipped it when I was transcribing the table.

      Comment by Boom | July 17, 2013 | Reply

      • Thanks for making the correction. The Amarillo crash was also on a “17th”, but in this case it was 17 MAY 1966. The Palomares crash, along with the loss of the Plattsburgh B-52G in 1968, effectively put an end to CHROME DOME airborne alert missions.

        Comment by Robert "DrBob" Hopkins | July 18, 2013

  50. Regarding the KC-135 crash on 26Sep76 near Alpena, MI. What did the USAF investigation board list as the official cause? The navigator, Capt. Richard Dankey, was my student at Castle four years prior.

    Comment by George Keene | August 21, 2013 | Reply

    • The correct serial number for this airplane is 61-0296.

      The airplane developed a cabin pressurization problem en route from its home station at KI Sawyer to Wurtsmith to pick up officers for a FIRST TEAM visit to Offutt. Because of the pressurization issue the crew chose to fly at a lower altitude and struck high terrain during their approach into Wurtsmith 12 miles SW of Alpena, MI.

      Comment by Robert "DrBob" Hopkins | August 22, 2013 | Reply

  51. 11 October 1988, Tail No. 60-0317. Wurtsmith AFB. There is a photo of the crash scene on this website.

    Comment by David Fransen | August 22, 2013 | Reply

  52. I arrived at Eielson AFB in June 1963, a few months after the KC-135 accident, A friend was the base photographer so I had acquired several photos of the accident. The tow fatalities on the ground were air police manning the entrance gate to the base.

    Comment by charles murrman | November 11, 2013 | Reply

  53. didn’t the nose wheel steering lock out after 90 knots and you had to steer with the rudder?

    Comment by Neal Pinkowski | November 26, 2013 | Reply

    • In a word, NO. Once you got rolling there was more than enough rudder authority to keep going straight even with the loss of an out board engine. There was more to lose from actually using the nose wheel steering since if you put too much in the scrubbing of tires was more drag, something if you’d lost an engine, you did not want.

      Comment by Jon Mickley | November 27, 2013 | Reply

  54. Does anyone have the call signs of these aircraft mishaps?

    Comment by Christopher Hoctor | November 28, 2013 | Reply

  55. 60-0332 is shown as a total loss, but there’s still a KC-135R flying with that number. See and Was it just damaged and then repaired, similar to 59-1474?

    Comment by David Allison | December 23, 2013 | Reply

    • You are correct. 60-0332 is indeed still flying.

      Comment by Robert "DrBob" Hopkins | December 23, 2013 | Reply

      • The aircraft that was lost in a heavy rain in the Phillipines was a C-135B 61-0332

        Comment by Mike Mauro | February 6, 2014

  56. The 25 February 1985, loss of RC-135T 55-3121 should be corrected to show that the airplane was assigned to the 6th SW at Eielson AFB, AK, (not Offutt AFB) as a flight-crew proficiency trainer. It was eventually replaced by TC-135S 62-4133.

    Comment by Robert "DrBob" Hopkins | December 23, 2013 | Reply

  57. I realize this is off the subject but I can think of no group better able to answer an on going argument between my Ubon RTAFB, Thailand group. Some of our members have heard stories about the KC-135 using the refuel boom to tow a battle damaged F-4 bank to home base. I personally do not see how that would be possible for several reasons but the primary one is the fact that the F-4 inflight refuel receptacle had a very low breakawaypoint. I recall doing that breakaway check using an actual boom receptacle mounted on short extension. The test was done by hand and pulling probe out was not that difficult. What do you experts have to say about that. Thanks for your assistance. James O. Helms, CMSgt, USAF, Retired.

    Comment by James Helms | December 23, 2013 | Reply

    • This was not only possible but certainly happened. The 1983 Mackay Trophy went to Loring KC-135 crew E-115 that escorted a emergency single-engine F-4E over the Atlantic to Gander. The two airplanes refueled as low as 2,000 feet ASL, and at times the KC-135 actually towed the F-4E with the boom. Tanker crew was AC Goodman, CP Clover, Nav Wojcikoski, and BO Douglas Simmons.

      Comment by Robert "DrBob" Hopkins | December 23, 2013 | Reply

      • DrBob,
        A privilege to have your input here. A well read tanker guy would recognize your name from countless articles and your great book on the KC-135. I ran across your name a dozen times writing ‘Voices’, and your insight was a tremendous help confirming my research! Respectfully yours, Christopher Hoctor

        Comment by Christopher Hoctor | December 23, 2013

  58. This also happened a number of times in SEA. The receiver would be damaged or almost dry tanks.

    Comment by John Stevens | December 23, 2013 | Reply

  59. I would like to have a book on the KC-135. I have Bud Byrd’s, “Passing Gas” but am always interested in reading more. Please let me know if one is available., Manny Alegria. “” retired boomer who also towed an F-4 over Nam.

    Comment by Manny Alegria | January 13, 2014 | Reply

    • Manny,
      Besides the free book you can download (above), here are some I recommended:

      Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, by Robert F. Dorr, 112 pages, published by Ian Allen LTD (UK), 1987. Robert Dorr is a well-known and admired author of Air Force Times columns for decades. A genuine friend of Airmen. This is a smaller book, but a really good guide on all things -135.

      Boeing 707 KC-135, and their Derivatives, Legends of the Sky Series, by Dominique Breffort, 240 pages, published by Histoire & Collections, Oct 2008. Originally written in French, this book gives a great international view of the 135’s alongside their 707 sister jets and the many variations of both.

      Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, More than Just a Tanker, by Robert S. Hopkins III, 224 pages, published by Midland Publishing LTD (UK), 1997. This is the most comprehensive KC-135 book I have run across. Well researched, and the author shares an extensive personal insight.

      Seventy-Five Years of Inflight Refueling, by Richard K. Smith, 90 pages, printed by the US Government Printing Office, 1998. Written for the Air Force History and Museums Program. Outstanding and thorough history of the KC-135 and its air refueling missions. I am not certain there are still any around, but it’s worth hunting for. ISBN 0-16-049779-5.

      Comment by Christopher | February 7, 2014 | Reply

  60. Noticed the above information about towing fighters with the boom. How about Major John Casteel’s multi level refueling of Navy planes. i don’t have all the info available right now but it is quite a story.

    Comment by John Stevens | February 7, 2014 | Reply

  61. Another fine book id “The Boeing C-135 Series Stratotanker, Stratolifter and other Variants” by Don Logan. Publishes by Schiffer Military History, Atglen, PA. Copyrigh 1998, Library of Congress Catalog Number 97-80210.

    Hardbound, slick & glossy book of 256 pages with thousands of images of all variants of the C-135 series aircraft. More data tables than I can count, histories of specific airframes, lists of production statistics, modification statistics. I’d call it the “Bible of the -135 fleet”.

    The copy I have I found in a Borders Books & Music store in San Francisco when I was there on a Delta Air Lines layover. Sept, 21, 1999 and it cost $81.31 but well worth it.

    Other books by Don Logan are the B-1B, T-38, YF-17, A-10, and one about the 388th TFW at Korat in 1972.

    The author was a USAF Navigator and flew as a WSO in the F4 then worked for Rockwell and Boeing.

    No, I’m not a salesman nor do I get royalties, but IMNHO as someone who was a tanker pilot for 26 of my 28 years in the Air Force, this is one great book!

    Comment by Jon Mickley | February 7, 2014 | Reply

  62. Did I miss something or did anyone report on the KC-135 that crashed at Dyess AFB on/about 31 Jan 1989?

    Comment by Byron Howard | March 5, 2014 | Reply

    • right there in the list at the top of the page…

      Comment by Christopher | March 13, 2014 | Reply

  63. The crash of the RC-135S ‘664, at Shemya Island was not March 18, but March 15, 1981. I was one of the survivors….the source states it made the approach in “marginal conditions.” I suppose that’s what the Air Force calls it. Other folks refer to such weather as a “howling blizzard.” It was easy enough to be nonchalant about the habitually terrible weather there, but night time, very high winds, low viz, buildup of snow/precip on SIDE windows (where I was sitting) of aircraft — in the Lower 48 it’s not “marginal.”

    Comment by Dr K.A. Crooks | March 17, 2014 | Reply

    • Great input, I love reading from witnesses!

      Comment by Christopher Hoctor | March 17, 2014 | Reply

      • The first air refueling disaster that impacted my family was the crash of a KC-97 at Castle. We lost a good family friend, an RAF exchange pilot. He crashed right in front of my dad’s MITO takeoff. Worse, my mom, seeing the smoke from the crash didn’t know if it was my dad. Just before he landed, the base commander and chaplain drove up to her door in the blue official Air Force sedan…and knocked. My mother, naturally, freaked. They had stopped to ask directions to the RAF Flight Officer’s house–clueless to the effect they just caused.

        Comment by Dr K.A. Crooks | March 18, 2014

  64. My brother was a USAF pilot. He flew KC 135 refuelers. His plane he was co-piloting crashed on Oct 22, 1968 flying into CCK near Sun Moon Lake. I thought it was flying from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. All 6 crew members were killed. It took them 5 days to reach the crash site. My father Col. James J. Hayes had just retired as Base Commander at Dover AFB in May 1968 after starting in USArmy AirCorps & serving in WWII & on TDY during Vietnam 1965 Clark AFB. We had just moved to Miami Fl where they retired to. My brother Lt. James Joseph Hayes, Jr. (JJ by his buddies) had written letters home stating the poor conditions of many of the planes and how a lot of the guys were leaving and sweating it out. He was killed 3 mos after being sent TDY over there. The pilot of the aircraft was said to be top notch. My brother was top notch. People who knew of the pilot said it had to have been something with the aircraft. Nothing was said of this to us by the AF. He was not recognized on the Vietnam Memorial because technically it was not Vietnam, it was Taiwan. Not the right “parallel”. I was 7 yrs old when he was killed. I have 3 sisters. He was the oldest & only son. Both of my parents have passed. They are buried with him at Arlington. Anyone know him or anything about this crash I would love to hear from you. It lists a kc135 crash on oct22,1968 headed to CCK but it states origin as Westover. I don’t know where that is or if it is possibly the same. Perhaps I have some misinformation as I am the youngest and only could gather it very recently. Please feel free to contact me. Catherine @
    Thank you. God bless.

    Comment by Catherine Hayes Janis | June 4, 2014 | Reply

    • I will send some info. Thank you for sharing your story.

      Comment by Christopher Hoctor | June 4, 2014 | Reply

  65. 26-Sep-76 61-0269 A K.I. Sawyer Crashed near Alpena, Michigan Should be aircraft 0359
    I was stationed at KI at the time. I remember the two tankers from Sawyer that crashed that year. The last four of tail numbers added up to 17, 0359 and 0368.

    Comment by Mike Myles | June 21, 2014 | Reply

    • I know 0296 adds up to 17, I’m remembering 0359 in the Alpena crash?

      Comment by Mike Myles | June 21, 2014 | Reply

    • Mike, sorry to say but it was not 61-0269 but aircraft 61-0296. I launched it out from K.I.Sawyer and SGT Joe Singleton went as Crew Chief on it with A1C Dave Solon as assistant. It was not 0359. Joe Singleton was a good friend and you don’t forget good friends. I lost a good friend as well as on 0368 in Spain who was SSGT Joe McAlister. Yes, both tail numbers total to 17. Both Joes were assigned to 3555 as crew chiefs when they went TDY on those aircraft when they went down.

      Comment by Ted McKee | June 22, 2014 | Reply

      • Ted, I have newspaper articles on the Alpena crash somewhere and will try to find them. When were you at Sawyer? I was there from ’72 to ’78 and do not remember you. I’m believe it was Dale and not Dave Solon. He was one of my assistants on 318 at the time. He survived the crash.I’m also remembering Jim and not Joe Singleton. Will dig further.

        Comment by Mike Myles | June 22, 2014

  66. Ted, Just verified with newspaper articles about the crash that it was “Jim” Singleton and “Dale” Solon.

    Comment by Mike Myles | June 22, 2014 | Reply

    • Mike I will admit I was wrong about Dale’s name. I couldn’t remember if it was Dale or Dave. But as soon as you put Dale I will stand corrected on that one. As far as Jim, several of us called him Joe and it stuck all these years. Either way he was an outstanding person to work with. I was going to take the flight and was told no because I was in charge of weekend duty. Jim came in and told me he didn’t want to take the flight. He said he had a bad feeling and wasn’t going to come back. Dale on the other and volunteered to go on the flight. No one could find the actual Crew Chief who was SSgt White. After the crash Dale lost a lot weight and took the option to get out. I did see him a few years later delivering Coke out to the base. He eventually moved out of the area.

      Comment by Ted McKee | June 22, 2014 | Reply

      • Hi Ted, I think I erred in what flight crash you were speaking of. I get emails of replays. I guess they all don’t pertain necessarily to the same flight that I am speaking of- haven’t learned to navigate this site the best I guess. Thanks tho. Cathy

        Comment by Catherine Hayes Janis | June 23, 2014

    • Hi Ted, i can’t find the words to describe what I’m feeling. I am the youngest sister of Jim who took the KC-135 61-0301. I have heard that he was the navigator on that flight & I have also heard he was the co-pilot.
      The fact that you said you were speaking with him while he was waiting for the Crew Bus and you knew him is amazing. Did he say why he had a bad feeling about the flight? And did you take it that he meant if he did take it HE wasn’t going to make it back? He actually said that? I am so interested to hear, read all you know, what his final actions, thoughts were anything at all about him you can share. Please do not be afraid. I was just 7 when he died. I have read his letters home. He talked about how other guys were upset by the problems with planes. You are the first person I have ever met or heard who knew him then especially knowing as much as you do about the flight itself. You said people knew him as Joe? I never knew or heard that. We know he was called JJ. I have a photo of him on my phone but not sure I know how to get it on her. You can email me if wouldn’t mind. I thank you so very much.
      Appreciatively, Catherine Hayes Janis

      Comment by Catherine Hayes Janis | June 23, 2014 | Reply

      • Hi Catherine, Ted is talking about a different accident than the one Jim was on. I talked with Jim just after he had called for a crew bus. I asked him if he was TDY to Utapao AB for Young Tiger and he told me no, that they were just on a parts run and had flown in from (I think) Kadena the night before and were heading back via a stop at CCK. He did not seem to have any foreboding about the mission and our brief conversation was not unusual in any way. But I do want to clarify that he was definitely not flying Young Tiger missions. He told me this himself and that they were not assigned to Utapao (where all Young Tiger missions originated from). I was hoping he was so we could get together for lunch or dinner, but that was not the case. He was definitely the copilot…not the navigator. It can be a little difficult following the thread, but Ted McKee is referencing a different accident altogether. If Jim mentioned problems with the tanker he had to have been talking about cracking on the oldest airplanes in the rear bulk head. We had some of those airplanes at my base in Robins AFB. In summer of 1968 this problem was addressed and corrected at the depot in Oklahoma. It was called operation “Pacer Fin”. Planes that had cracks had to have temporary repairs and then were allowed only one flight to get the repair at the depot. We flew one of those planes from my base. It was mentioned that the plane that Jim was flying was from Westover AFB in Massachusetts. All the aircraft are in a pool to be flown by crews according to the schedule. From what I remember about the accident report, the pilot asked for early descent (penetration) to a lower altitude (20 miles early) and the plane impacted the terrain. I also think that it was still daylight so the mountains must have been obscured by clouds or haze or something. With a high rate of descent or sink rate, getting below mountains that are not visible and then trying to stop the descent at the very last second can, in many cases, be impossible. The spool up time, from idle, on the KC-135A engines was 7-9 seconds. I think something like that must have happened, but that’s only my guess having read the accident report many years ago. I can assure you that as the copilot, Jim would not have made the decision to descend early. Only the pilot (Aircraft Commander) would make that decision. Just so you know, I retired from the Air Force and do have considerable experience in the KC-135A.

        On a lighter note, we were in the same survival school element and I remember marching behind Jim (in the POW part of the training) with my hands on his shoulders and bags over our heads. Jim was probably a foot taller than me. Jim was a very nice guy and good person. I’m sorry he was lost to you and your family at such a young age. Anyone who knew him would miss him. I hope this helps with your understanding and clears up some of your questions.

        Comment by George Asadourian | June 23, 2014

  67. You have aircraft 56-3616 listed as the jet that crashed into Shadow Mt., near Mt. Spokane, in1967. It was actually 56-3613. I have the crash report and have been to the crash site numerous times.

    Comment by Bill | October 10, 2014 | Reply

  68. KC-135A, 61-0296 I visited the crash site Nov 2013. Wreckage still remains at the crash site. It is in a god awful swamp. I also talked to one of the 5 survivors. I have part of accident report and some original fire dept photos. I’m seeking photos of 61-0296 while it was in service. I also want to know more about the cause “pressurization problem”
    contact me at

    Comment by Dave Trojan | January 9, 2015 | Reply

    • I know Dale Solon was one of the survivors.At the time of the crash he was an assistant of mine at KI Sawyer.

      Comment by Mike Myles | January 9, 2015 | Reply

      • Mike Myles please contact me at

        Comment by Steve Andy Anderson | January 10, 2015

      • Mike Myles, Dale Solon was on board 296 when it crashed. I had asked him to go on that flight. I was going to go but when I talked to the flight chief and the Branch Chief I was told that I couldn’t go and they were going to send Singleton instead. I was in charge of weekend duty and I had that responsibility and not to take the flight. The actual Crew Chief was White and no one could find him until the following Monday. White was given orders immediately after the crash because of what happened. I don’t remember White’s first name only that he was a SSGT that didn’t take crewing seriously. Dale should have gotten a higher medal then what he did because of all that he did and a Major lied and told what Solon did as it was him. Snowmobilers didn’t find the Major walking out for help they found Dale walking out in boots, his pants and a T-Shirt. He had given most of his clothes to others to help keep them warm. Dale should have gotten a high medal and should have been promoted immediately for all that he did. I did talk to Dale when he got back after the investigation was over with. I felt bad for Dale being on board when it crashed and losing a good friend which was Singleton. I am proud to have known them both.

        Comment by Ted McKee | January 11, 2015

  69. I may have a photo of 296 in my 46th ARS files. I will look when I get home in a couple of weeks.

    Comment by John Stevens | January 10, 2015 | Reply

  70. KC-135, 61-0296 crash Michigan. Five survivors were Capt. JOHN HARRISON, 33, Ravenswood, W. Va.; Capt. CLIFFORD CALL, Seattle, Wash.; 1st Lt. DWAIN E. CRANE, 26, Pine Bluff, Ark.; and Capt. FREDERICK ANDERSON, 32, Upper Saddle River, N. J. Airman DALE J. SOLON of Lakewood, Ohio

    The 15 men killed in the crash were identified as: Major REDERICK WRINKLE; Major DANIEL H. CRAVEN; Capt. CHARLES R. ADAM; Capt. RICHARD G. DANKEY; Capt. OSCAR W. DUGAN; Capt. WILLIAM H. WARREN, JR.; Capt. JERRY B. RICHARDSON; Capt. VAN P. COOK; Capt. RICHARD N. SMITHWICK; Capt. DAVID A. PHELPS; Capt. JACK A. KUZANED; Lt. RONALD P. ROACH; Lt. ROBERT S. WITT; Tech. Sgt. GARY L. CARLSON; and Sgt. JAMES M. SINGLETON. All the men except for Lt. WITT and Capt. ADAM, who were from Kinchelce air base, were attached to the Sawyer air base.

    The plane’s body carved a 100-foot long gouge in the ground. Wreckage was strewn along a 50-yard wide path for more than half a mile. The only known witness to the crash, ELMER LISKE, 48, a Hubbard Lake farmer, said he saw the plane flying low over the treetops while he was walking across his front yard about 8:30 a.m. EDT Sunday. “It suddenly started to go down,” LISKE said. “It blew up, and I saw a big ball of fire, and then it exploded several more times.”

    There is a memorial at the crash site. I have pictures if anybody wants them

    Comment by Dave Trojan | January 11, 2015 | Reply

    • Dale,

      I would like to see pictures of the memorial at the crash site. I was the rescue crewman on the USCG helicopter that transported Dale and the other victims to the hospital the day of the plane crash. I have often wondered if all of the victims that we transported that day, survived. I remember, like yesterday, Dale walking up to the helicopter in his t shirt and pants…and I asked him if I could help him because I thought that he was a member of the rescue team on the ground. Dale told me that he was on board the plane that had crashed. I could hardly believe what Dale had told me because I don’t even remember a grass stain being on Dale. That day will forever be etched in my memory, seeing the carnage of the crash site, and seeing the bravery of the souls that we transported that day.

      John Vincent

      Comment by John Vincent | February 14, 2015 | Reply

      • Hi John,
        I had talked to Dale after he returned back to K I Sawyer. I personally needed to see for myself and hear from him that he was all right since I had talked him to going on that trip. He said that when they took off he went to the back and went to sleep and didn’t wake up until they were on the ground. He never said if he was strapped in or not on the troop seats in the back. He definitely had an angel watching over him. The day that it went down we heard about it on one of the local radio stations. I had to go in and answer questions due what we did on the aircraft prior to take off.

        Comment by Ted McKee | February 14, 2015

      • send me an email and Ill send you pictures of memorial. my email is listed under post#68

        Comment by Dave Trojan | February 14, 2015

  71. KC-135, 61-0296, 26-Sep-76 K.I. Sawyer, Crashed near Alpena, Michigan I still want to know the cause of the accident. Anybody know why it crashed? All I can find out is it was due to a pressurization problem?.

    Comment by Dave Trojan | February 8, 2015 | Reply

    • Just going from memory here.

      I was a CCTS IP at Castle during this time and had a neighbor who was also an IP and had been the training flight IP at Wurtsmith when this crash occurred, we talked about it, and used it as a part of our crew training.

      It was a CFIT. Pressurization problem dictated a descent to lower altitude. While working the problem the plane descended into the ground and was destroyed. Simply put the crew was working a problem and for whatever reason nobody was “flying the plane”. Violates the singularly most important duty when flying the plane…..”FLY THE PLANE”. Not the first time a minor problem had resulted in a CFIT, nor was it the last. Accidents like this are still happening to this day.

      Comment by rofcibc | February 8, 2015 | Reply

  72. I wish to know about KC-135: 21-Mar-59 58-0002 A Bergstrom Flew through thunderstorm, experienced structural failure.
    This date seems to be in error as I was with this plane at Altus AFB in 1959, a ground crew member and flew on it. It was the second from Boeing that year. It was still there when I left for B-52’s at Sheppard 12/1960.
    Does anyone have more info

    Comment by Tom Chase | February 14, 2015 | Reply

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