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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
15-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 (Video)
29-May-92 62-3584 EC/C Eielson On landing; ran off end of runway at Pope
10-Dec-93 57-1470 R Wisconsin ANG Burned on ramp; center wing explosion
13-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

      • I crewed 63-7983 at Grissom for a time. 983 was the one that went down in Panama.

        Comment by Steve Andy Anderson | August 19, 2015

    • Re: Post for Crash dated 17 June 86

      Info on site is correctly cited as Grissom…. (I think the recent post citing a correction a correction from Altus yo Grissom just miss aligned the columns when reading the information….. Easy error to make….. )

      I too was at Grissom at the time and am the widow of one of the officers killed in this accident.

      Comment by Mylinda Lyons | January 28, 2016 | Reply

      • Hello Mylinda. If I am not mistaken, are you the widow of the young copilot of the Grissom aircraft that crashed in Panama? I remember traveling to Arkansas or Missouri to do a post-crash interview with the widow of the copilot in my position as a flight surgeon at Grissom. The widow was home with her parents. That was such an incredibly sad time for that young lady, her family and the family of her husband! I always wondered how she did. The aircraft crashes are somewhat “sterile” and devoid of emotion unless one is a family member, a friend, or, as in my case, you hear the story and see the face of someone who personally suffered loss in the accident. I hope that you were able to get on with your life and put the pieces back together again. Though it has been 31 years since the accident, I am sorry for your loss! That was a trauma not comprehended by anyone who has not been in your shoes. I pray that God has blessed you in the intervening years.

        Comment by Stephen David Watson | May 4, 2018

  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

      • I was on the resuce truck that day too who are you?

        Comment by rick berland | May 1, 2015

      • Don Hervey, I remember you. Stopped by your house later that day to pick up my daughter and you told me about how you went up inside.

        Comment by Marcus Haberichter | August 2, 2018

  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

      • Sue, hope this makes it to you. I was a comm/nav troop tasked with taking the TOs(technical orders) to the crash site. wasn’t much left but the aircraft came down in a village without hitting any houses and as far as i know did not kill any civilians by the grace of God. some say the crew managed to place it there but others said with the wing coming off there was no control but no one knows for sure when it came off. A col. at the scene and a KC pilot himself said he thought the crew had some control. I was tasked with a couple of other NCOs to pack up the crews belongings. In my eight years this was absolutely the toughest thing I had to do. It has been over 40 years and every time i see a picture of a KC i think of this and wonder how the families are now. pray for them often.

        Comment by rick dugas | January 9, 2017

    • 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

    • if this is the crew chief at McCoy afb from 1970-1973 please contact me thank you

      Comment by donna sweeting | August 17, 2015 | Reply

      • I was googling about a KC135 wreck in Spain as my brother was a passenger on that plane. It was not his crew, he was catching this plane to meet his crew. I was a senior in high school and came home from a night job to find two air force officers with my parents who were in tears. My brother was 2nd Lt John Barnes, still my hero and missed every day of my life. I still plan to visit Spain as I would like to visit the site of the wreck but it is not easy to find information on where it happened. The information shared here answers some questions I have always wanted to know on why it went down.

        Comment by Tim Barnes | July 2, 2019

      • Tim
        My name is Mike Macon, the KC-135A crash in question did it happen in Feb. 1976? If so look up line item #27.

        Comment by Mike Macon | January 25, 2020

      • Mike,

        Thank you very much for sharing the information and the link that has the map of the location in Spain of where the aircraft went down in February 1976. That is the plane that my brother 2nd LT John Robert Barnes was aboard.

        Tim Barnes

        Comment by Tim Barnes | January 25, 2020

  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

      • I went thru Castle AFB Summer/Fall of 1975 as a CCTS (aka, “school house”) 135 student. We were still doing Dutch Roll demos…and also approach to initial buffet airwork training/airwork. Both were designed so students would recognize the
        condition (leading up to and during) and would take appropriate corrective/recovery measures. I heard later that Dutch Roll demos (usually by IP only) were dropped…and shortly after so were Intitial Buffet airwork training. I think this happened before CCTS got moved to Altus, AFB. Anyway, I personally experienced one rather dramatic Dutch Roll real-world event over Northern California while on a North/South heading. It was pretty hairy. Fortunately, my AC knew what to do or I wouldn’t be typing this today. We got into rather severe “shear” turbulence…later attributed to a boundary layer jet stream transition/shift. I also experienced a real-world, untended buffet to stall. Happened just east of Carswell while we were doing
        an enroute descent into Barksdale AFB, LA at night with the usual summer T-storms/cells all round. Saint Elmos, turbulence, non-specific cloud lightening, etc. all round. We got a step down to 10K by Fort Worth ATC from mid 20s MSL. While decending thru 18K or so at a “good rate” and all dirty-ed up (with gear down too), controller issues a “level off immediately at 17K now”, which my AC did promptly (and successfully). BUT….he failed to cobb in the power (we were all distracted with the storms) to maintain level flight with our drag…and we immediately went into a severe buffet and stall (I mean…in seconds!). We ended up rolling slightly to the left and losing about 2,000 feet before recovering. Needless to say, our “guest” StanEval Boom Instructor who was giving our Boom a check-ride (standing at flight deck door) wasn’t impressed. So this ‘weak’ A/C
        (or so he was known to be and actually was) got taken out of the cock-pit the next day. Last I head he transferred to Coast Guard and was flying their planes….hopefully a bit more competently. 🙂 My point? The 135 didn’t like Dutch Rolls or Buffets very much….and tended to punish accordingly if either weren’t handed properly/swiftly. While demonstations/training of both was somewhat dicey….I do think they shouldn’t have been dropped. But I guess the Sims do a pretty good job in lieu risking life and airframe…

        Comment by Rodger Burkley (aka, "PACK44N") | December 21, 2015

    • 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

      • Paul Stomberg you were my NCOIC Disaster Preparedness during this disaster. It still haunts me to this day as well. All of these people had been through training in our office! As a young18 year old AB only being in the military for less than a year this was deviating! You did an outstanding job of keeping people calm and organized. The training that we received as DPST members can never prepare anyone for this type of loss, but we knew what needed to be done. I hope this post finds you well. Sincerely, Diann Newman Robbins

        Comment by Diann Newman Robbins | November 2, 2015

    • 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

      • I happened onto your site a while back and noted some factual errors in some of the comments regarding the March, 1987, airshow practice KC-135A accident at Fairchild AFB. It’s disturbing to see miss-information from an incident such as this perpetuated without correction. I was part of the Safety Investigation Board (SIB) convened due to that accident as a flight crew Operations Advisor from the 1st Combat Evaluation Group (1CEVG), and arrived at Fairchild on 14 March 1987, where I spent approximately 30 days with the SIB at Fairchild before we moved to March AFB for the final preparation of the report. Among the errors found in the comments are:

        1. The crews were NOT practicing low level refueling at the time of the mishap.

        2. The aircraft was not “maneuvered” away from the BX. From the time the aircraft was rolled to approximately 85 degrees of bank until it impacted it was basically stalled, and good fortune placed it in a location that limited casualties to the crew and one observer on the ground. The NCO who was DNIF and was watching from his parked vehicle was, indeed, inside his vehicle at the time of the crash, as another commenter noted, and my recollection is he very likely could have survived the aircraft’s wingtip grazing his car but for the spilled fuel and associated fire due to the failure of the wing during breakup.

        3. It was unknown as to whether or not any engines on the mishap aircraft were “compressor stalled”. What prevented the aircraft from remaining airborne rather than impacting the ground was the high sink-rate that developed from the 85 degree bank due to the wake turbulence encounter. At 85 degrees of bank while attempting to try to roll out of the bank and maintain level flight or climb, an extremely high sink rate developed virtually immediately as the aircraft entered an aerodynamic stall. I was one the pilots who attempted to recover from such an upset (which occurred at an approximate altitude of 200 ft) so close to the ground in a full motion -135 simulator. It couldn’t be done, even with all four engines operating. The simulator could be rolled out of the bank, as the mishap aircraft did, but the sink rate could not be arrested before impact.

        4. One commenter said someone told him the crew died in the post-crash fire. That is not true. The crew died due to trauma from the aircraft impact and aircraft breakup, as was reflected in the Medical Examiner’s report.

        The corrections I provided are from the document I used to to brief 1CEVG flight crews after my return from duty with the SIB, rather than from my 32 year-old memories.

        Gary Scott

        Comment by Gary Scott | January 25, 2020

    • 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

      • This explanation sounds similar to the cause of the accident 19 September 1979 58-0127 KC-135 Castle AFB. I have that accident report, as do others. I wonder about the details of this one (5-Mar-74 17-1500 A McConnell Crashed on takeoff; applied wrong rudder). Could it have prevented the 1979 crash?

        Comment by Dan Kangley | January 26, 2020

    • 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

    • I was in that bunk

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

    • 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

      • Hello Russ..Nick Cristiano. .1974..1980.McConnell

        Comment by Nicholas Cristiano | August 3, 2016

    • 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

      • Steve, stumbled on this posting of yours of some time ago. I remember a Busy Relay where the Eielson temp was -55°F. Everything ran at 2/3rds speed. I was impressed by a young Airman who was out in the cold getting the aircraft prepped. Also, I do not remember a ‘Ball sortie CNX’d by cold. Usually by predicted Xwinds and visibility at Shemya.

        Comment by Dr. K.A. Crooks | May 12, 2020

      • Also, I had left by Bob’s stated period of the cold Ops change. I was gone Dec 1983.

        Comment by Dr. K.A. Crooks | May 12, 2020

  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

      • David Wandel was my “little” cousin. Every Memorial Day I try to honor his service memory. I never knew the details of the crash. I find it troubling, but find comfort knowing that he served our country with honor. Thanks for these posts.

        Comment by Andy Meselson | May 31, 2016

    • 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

      • Andy I was admin on accident investigation review board at Pease1990. I was the next accident. I put my hand thru a window while closing it as the final KC-135 briefing notes were printing out. I’ve always wanted to thank the Major who got me to the hospital. I believe his last name may have been Meadows. He wasn’t from Pease because after he got me in the car he said can you get me to your hospital? An ANG LtCol asked my home number and called my husband. There was a TSgt Bo ? who worked admin on review board as well, and SSgt Larry ? from Safety who stayed with my son at hospital. I was civilian who normally worked admin at Pease FD – my husband Brett was 509th SPS/LE. I can see their faces but can’t remeber last names. Whoever they were – I’m eternally grateful.

        Comment by Deb Herrington | December 4, 2017

    • 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

      • I was a B-52 Maintenance Officer ( TDY from Ellsworth AFB SD ) on that morning of the accident. It was just turning daylight and several cells ( 1 KC-135 & 2 F-4s ) had launched. There was absolutely no wind so the smoke from the previous KC-135 water injected engines reduced visibility to near zero. The F-4 that was destroyed had an emergency that caused him to abort shortly after starting take off role but the Tanker could not see him due to the low visibility. As soon as the crash all tried to help but the F-4 was destroyed very quickly. The Fire Dept did a great job in saving the Tanker after it came to a stop off the runway.
        Col Paul J. Lambert, USAF, ret.

        Comment by Paul J Lambert | January 15, 2018

    • 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 have been trying to put together all the info on the KC-135 and F-4D incident at Guam for about five years now. My purpose for the research is I have been working with the daughter of the F-4 pilot Lt Col Michael E. Styer in an effort to help her find closure on the loss of her father. Some have claimed to have witnessed the incident and a couple even claim to have photos of which I have tried to acquire from them; however, they have either not seen my above comments or have chosen not to reply. An important bit of info I would like to have is to confirm that the F-4 main strut was sheered from the impact as I have been led to believe. The F-4 had the zero-zero ejection seat which should have ejected the pilot to sufficient altitude for normal chute opening. However, if the F-4 was tilted in such a manner that the ejection seat would not have gained enough altitude to function correctly due to the angle of trajectory, the results are simple. The WSO (rear seater) had initiated emergency harness release just prior to the pilot’s activation of the ejection and the results of that is also understood. Having a clear understanding of AF/FAA control tower procedures, I fail to understand why the KC-135 pilot received clearance to start his take off roll before the F-4 had cleared the runway. I understand the visibility conditions of darkness and water injected KC-135 engine smoke, but that does not exempt normal take off rules, i.e. — I can’t believe a pilot would initiate take off without Clearance — the tower screwed up. If anyone has a photo of the F-4 involved I would greatly appreciate your sharing it/them with me. My email is:

        Comment by James O. Helms, USAF CMSGT, retired | February 10, 2018

    • 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

      • I was a firefighter on duty that day and I also have many photos of this accident

        Comment by Mike Bauer | February 7, 2016

    • 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

      • I’ll agree with Jon…we’d see our 90 knot speed (airspeed crosscheck) 3 times…once on the way down the hill, then again as we slowed down starting up the hill, and then again as we overcame the hill and developed enough inertia to make our speeds for take off…

        Comment by KC-135_IBO | December 29, 2013

      • I was a B-52 Maintenance Officer, (TDY from Ellsworth AFB SD for 6 months ARC Light Rotation) on that morning of the accident. It was just turning daylight and several cells ( 1 KC-135 & 2 F-4s) had launched. There was absolutely no wind so the smoke from the previous KC-135 water injected engines reduced visibility to near zero. The F-4 that was destroyed had an emergency that caused him to about shortly after starting take off roll but the Tanker could not see him due to the low visibility. As soon as the crash all tried to help but the F-4 was destroyed very quickly. The Fire Dept did a great job in saving the Tanker after it came to a stop off the left side of the runway. It was a very clear morning, no clouds at all, about 78 degrees, ‘
        Col Paul J. Lambert, USAF, ret.

        Comment by Paul J. Lambert, Col USAF, ret | January 15, 2018

      • Thank you for your comments on the F-4/KC-135 incident a Guam Col. It was several years ago that I made my post and the details of that one. I’m still looking for any new info beyond what I have already offered. I have been working with the daughter of the F-4 pilot and share anything I can find. What I don’t understand is the fact that there does not seem to be any official accident report.

        Comment by James O. Helms, USAF CMSGT, retired | January 15, 2018

      • Col Lambert. Were you also assigned to the 4th ACCS in the 1980-1981 time frame? I was an EC-135 crew scheduler at that time.

        Comment by CMSgt (Ret) Clarence E Vold | January 17, 2018

      • Col Lambert,

        I have always been intrigued by that accident and one thing that has bothered me is there is no mention of any communications from the tower. I have always felt the smoke from the 135 takeoffs that obscured the visibility of the tanker that hit the F4, probably obscured the F4 from the view of the tower. Then there is the issue of radio communications. Did the F4 call an abort on the radio? If so was that on the tower frequency, or had they changed to some other one. Been a long time since I made a 135 wet takeoff, but I do remember the near zero visibility of being anything other than lead in a MITO (15 sec) or even a cell takeoff (1 min). Our best friend was a nice breeze to carry the smoke away from in front of you.

        Comment by rofcibc | January 15, 2018

      • Col. the info I have collected over the years indicates the two F-4s were in a wingtip formation, preparing to takeoff when the incident occurred — nothing about weather hold or abort has been mentioned.

        Comment by James O. Helms, USAF CMSGT, retired | January 16, 2018

      • To reply to Chief Helms and others– I was a 2nd Lt. at that time and worked the North Ramp at Andersen AFB, where we had B-52D’s from Ellsworth and Dyess AFB. I was working the night shift and getting a launch ready, from a maintenance perceptive, for I believe about 6:00am in the morning. We normally had to have 5 or 6 B-52’s ready with crews to be able to launch a cell of 3 B-52s to Vietnam. After the launch, I was sitting up on the end of the runway in my truck, at Charlie Tower, finishing paperwork and getting ready for shift change at 7:00am or so. About that time the KC-135s and F-4s started to taxi from the transit side of the main base area to the end of the runway and take off in a cell of 1 KC-135 and 2 F-4s. The accident happened at about the 3rd or 4th cell, as I describe in my previous note. It was just getting light — I don’t know anything ref. the tower comm, as I just had maintenance radios in my vehicle (to my memory). A lot happened very quickly, with the F-4 exploding after being hit and pushed by the KC-135.
        The F-4 was towed later that day to a revetment on Center Ramp, where it sat for the rest of the time I was TDY (till March 1970). I remember that they brought a ‘Field Maintenance Team’ in from Tinker AFB, OK to repair the KC-135 that was involved. I returned to Andersen as a Captain, in January 1972, PCS, when the war picked up again and we got over 150 B-52D’s and G’s in a very short time.
        I have also looked for more information over the years on this accident and have not been able to find much — even in the F-4 Accident Documents.
        Paul J. Lambert, Col., USAF, ret.

        Comment by Paul J. Lambert, Col, USAF, ret | January 15, 2018

      • Thanks again Col., your firsthand report is the best I have received. I wish I could find the tail number of the F-4 for I have a very complete listing to include photos of most. A photo of the aircraft would be of some interest to the daughter of the pilot. BTW, as I included in my report, the pilot initiated ejection with both seats selected. The aircraft main strut was sheared causing the pilot’s ejection to take more of a horizontal path, not allowing adequate altitude for his seat to deploy. The Lt. in the rear seat had initiated an emergency harness release which resulted in his death. If you ever find new info, I would be very interested in your sharing it. Thanks again.

        Comment by James O. Helms, USAF CMSGT, retired | January 16, 2018

      • I was 14 at the time of this accident. My parents (Lt Col Edward S Grafton, USAF retired/deceased), and brothers had just return R&R from Taiwan that morning and had just gotten off of the troop transport when incident happened. My memory, we could see both planes, the KC-135 was moving when the F-4 stopped, the F-4 pilot ejected before impact and the co-pilot ejected into the 135’s wing, we saw the pilot impact without chute opening, the KC-135 had its wing on fire and was airborne flying straight at us, the firetrucks were coming out of the building next to us and we watched as the pilot put his plane down a few feet in front of the oncoming fire trucks. At the time, I believed that pilot deserved a medal. His actions saved his crew and probably the lives of rest of us who were close. That incident was the beginning of my journey to faith….

        I believe that even today, most Americans do not understand nor appreciate the sacrifice you guys made and still make for our country’s freedom. Please accept my thanks and admiration.

        A few years ago when our local National guard returned from Iraq, our town turned out in full force to welcome them home. I happened to know the commercial truck driver whose truck was immediately following the parade, he was a Vietnam era Veteran who was spit on when he returned home…. he finally got his parade … but only he knew it… God Bless you and God Bless America.

        Comment by Brent Grafton, USAF dependent | February 8, 2018

      • “…..the KC-135 had its wing on fire and was airborne flying straight at us, the firetrucks were coming out of the building next to us and we watched as the pilot put his plane down a few feet in front of the oncoming fire trucks.”

        Brent, the KC135 never got airborne. When it struck the F4 it only had gone about a 1000 feet from where it began the takeoff roll. Remember the KC135 taxied back up to the very end of the overrun, which was done to get that extra 1000 feet of runway for the heavyweight takeoff the tanker was making. The F4s taxied onto the normal end of the runway.

        The crux of the accident was that the F4s were still on the runway, and had not started their takeoff roll, when thee KC135 was cleared for takeoff. The tanker was behind the F4s so there is no way they saw him. Since the tanker started his takeoff roll it was obvious the pilot did not see the F4s. At what point he did see them, is unknown, but it was obviously not soon enough to abort and get the airplane stopped before hitting the F4s.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | February 8, 2018

      • Thank-you for your response… I was a kid standing on the tarmac looking up and I described my impression… I have not thought about this incident in many years.

        A few months prior to this incident the USAF transported me with a group of Boy Scouts to and from the mainland for a National Scout Jamboree on KC-135’s. I fully knew that having a loaded tanker with its wing on fire coming straight at me was not a good thing and did not have to end well. I left that day with the impression that the KC-135 pilot had executed an evasive maneuver with great skill, and for that I was thankful.

        My dad was Chief of Supply and my best friend’s dad was Base Commander… my memory is that the explanation given was that the F-4 flamed out due to an electronic malfunction….

        A few years ago, one of my brothers mentioned that Dad was receiving combat pay while on Guam, which is why our family qualified for R&R trips. I now assume that is why this incident wasn’t reported like those that took place in the states. Guam, at the time, was in the Theater of Operation of the War and this incident was likely classified as a combat loss rather than an accident. I am still trying to get my mind around earning my Eagle Scout in a war zone. I do remember wondering at the time why our scout leaders were so intense on jungle survival skills.

        In thinking about the event, the guy with the pictures could verify, I wonder if the F-4 pilot’s ejection trajectory may have been altered by the wing of the KC-135. I seem to remember his ejection seat draped in a parachute impacting the runway in front of the
        F-4. The parachute deployed but did not open.

        Comment by Brent Grafton, USAF dependent | February 9, 2018

      • The real issue is the “whys?” 1. Why was the KC135 cleared for takeoff with the F4s still on the runway 1000 feet in front of it? 2. Why were the F4s still on the runway after being cleared on it for takeoff?

        That was an example of the classic “chain of events” that exist in most, if not all aircraft accidents. Not a single event causes the accident but a “chain” of one after another. If any of the “links” in the chain does not happen, the chain is broken and the accident does not happen.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | February 10, 2018

      • I spoke to my elderly Mother who was standing next to me that day… I am trying to recall the actual events of that day, rather that remembering my memories of that day.
        This is the best I have right now….We had just arrived back to Guam from family R&R to Taiwan. The loud noise of the F-4’s preparing to take off was suddenly cut in half, which got our attention to turn and watch what was happening. One of the F-4’s had flamed out, the second F-4 took off. The KC-135 was in motion per the 15 second takeoff procedure. The stalled F-4 was struck by the left wing of the 135, apparently lined up with the engine closest to the fuselage. The 135 never left the ground and immediately, after impact, changed direction to position the aircraft as close as possible to the fire trucks leaving their building. The pilot of the F-4 ejected ahead of the 135 wing impact and may had been struck by the wing as he left the aircraft. The co-pilot ejected into the wing. The engine of the 135 came off and the fuel lines that were feeding the engine created the spectacular display we witnessed coming straight towards us. I am guessing that as long as the 135 was moving the flames were trailing behind, the moment it stopped the flames would envelop the wing and potentially be disastrous. Fortunately the fire suppression team was able to extinguish the flames before that happened. I later was told that a electronic malfunction had caused the flame out.

        Comment by Brent Grafton, USAF dependent | February 14, 2018

      • Brent, I realize it occurred many years ago and things can get mixed up — scroll up and read my original post — BTW the F-4 did not flame out.

        Comment by James O. Helms, USAF CMSGT, retired | February 15, 2018

    • Brent, another minor issue. There was no “…15 second takeoff procedure.” in this accident. That is the criteria for an EWO launch, generally of aircraft on alert. It would also be used during MITO training. The normal procedure for a mixed cell of fighters and tankers would be the fighters take off followed by the tankers a minute behind the last fighter.

      Again this accident was, in simple terms, a ground collision of the KC135 with the F4. There were many contributing factors, or as I had mentioned before “links in the chain of events” that led up to that collision.

      Comment by Jon Mickley | February 15, 2018 | Reply

      • I’ve been on fighter drags and our procedure was to wait until the fighters were airborne before the tanker rolled. That was in 1972 and that could well be a change in procedures after this accident.

        Comment by CMSgt (Ret) Clarence E Vold | February 15, 2018

      • Chief, to my knowledge, it was that way when the the KC-135 came on line back in the late 1950s. Several people were negligent in this needless loss of two pilots lives who were just out of Vietnam and on their way home. Not knowing if the control tower granted permission to the KC-135 to start his TO roll or not, I will hold blame for them.

        Comment by James O. Helms, USAF CMSGT, retired | February 15, 2018

      • thanks all… I really appreciate input… we are talking about an event that happened 48 years ago and was over in less than a minute… it had a big impact on me personally and a massive impact on the friends and families of the F-4 crew… hopefully you can come up with an explanation that helps them. You have helped me. Thank you for your service and your care for those of us who were not in service but standing near…. God Bless…

        Comment by Brent Grafton, USAF dependent | February 15, 2018

      • Chief Vold, procedures haven’t changed, fighters first then tankers. I flew KC135s until 1980, fighters first, tankers second. Flew KC10s until 1994. What Brent seems to miss is, the cause was the tanker rolled with fighters on the runway, and obviously didn’t know they were still there. They “why” is up for grabs.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | February 16, 2018

      • Brent…I started flying KC135s 50 years ago this month. Been there, had the tee shirt many times over in 1972. You make the comment “…to my knowledge…” but you were a child when this happened. Chief Vold and I were there….we flew KC135s, can’t speak for the Chief but I have 8000 hours in tankers (135s & 10s), been on more fighter drags than I can count. Wasn’t the first ground collision, wasn’t the last….in some crew members died. Two tankers ran into each other on an alert exercise at Lockbourne AFB, killing crew members. It’s a part of the business we are in.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | February 16, 2018

      • I was there when the two tankers collided taxiing in alert at Lockbourne. Outside the bedroom window overlooking the approach. My senior year of high school. My dad was commander of the OMS team. I also was aboard ‘664 when it crashed (sitting near wing exits). My old crew were aboard the Valdez tragedy after I left Alaska. I was also aboard the RC-135 that the Soviets claimed was in cahoots with Korean airlines KAL-007 when they shot it down. And the Cold War was just a benign, bloodless peaceful time…..

        Comment by Dr. K.A. Crooks | February 16, 2018

  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

      • Hey Robbie
        This is a hell of thing our connection with this aircraft me being at the crash and you being a member of the ground crew and why? Because we were Air Force members. I can remember always hearing Air Force personnel are family. How true that statement is I don’t know you but feel we have a connection most civilians would not understand. I know this may sound bizarre but every year around that date
        I think of the crash and pray for the souls lost that day I will also include you in those prayers. I hope you are well brother
        Take care

        Comment by Paul | June 29, 2015

    • 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

      • Dear Shelley I’m stunned right now, to read this post from you
        It brings so many emotions for me. I’m so sorry for your families loss. I know this may sound strange but, this is the 30th anniversary of that day and I still have the vivid memories. I believe I will carry them to my grave. God bless you and your family.

        Comment by Paul | June 29, 2015

      • Shelly,

        I was an Instructor Nav at Castle and your brother Jim and I were both scheduled to move from Flight Line instruction with the 93rd ARS to the 4017th CCTS as school house Instructors on the same day. As I remember, I had just finished my last Flight Line student and Jim had a couple more flights remaining with his student. I remember popping in on Jim and his crew as they were Mission Planning the day before the flight and joking with him about our upcoming switch to the school house. I did not know Jim very well, but he was well regarded and liked by all of us at the 93rd. I knew the Instructor Pilot as well. A terrible day for the Castle community. My prayers went with your brother that day as they do again having found this site and read the accounts above.

        Comment by bob d | July 24, 2015

      • Jim Henry, a great friend and good raquetball player, too! Rest in peace, 27 Aug 1985. Could have been any of us on that flight, I remember several guys offering to fly for him on that very flight but I can’t remember why … but true to form, he said no, he was going to fly. I believe his wife was pregnant. From 1979 to 2006, there were 22 KC/EC/RC -135 crashes. One Nav in the 93rd at the time was a survivor himself of a crash and the reason we wore gloves … his hands were burned as he walked out of a burning aircraft. Wish Jim and all of their family’s well. Those guys gave it all.

        Comment by D. R. | May 3, 2018

      • Hello D. R., my name is Andrew and I am Jim’s son. I really appreciate the post. Just wondering how you came to know my father.

        Comment by Andrew Henry | May 4, 2018

    • I worked for LTC Certain, a friend of the IP, and his speculation basically was that the IP was looking back at the engine fire instead of flying the aircraft. I want to emphasize this is speculation on the part of LTC Certain, but he knew the aircraft and it was based on statements of witnesses.

      Comment by Clarence E. Vold CMSgt (Ret) | May 5, 2015 | Reply

  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

    • D. Floyd,this is Earl Wells. The first acft 56-3614 that I was on at Robins,was with you and sgt Nall. I have tried to locate you for a long time. I owe you something. Just happened to see your name on this page. My email is to hear from you.

      Comment by Earl Wells | June 5, 2017 | 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

      • I also witnessed that crash. It was horrible. I was in the first grade (Mrs. Allen’s class). I was watching the plane come in for a landing and saw the whole thing. To this day, I can’t watch airplanes land. I remember the tip of the wing and the plane cartwheeling.

        Comment by Monica | December 5, 2018

    • 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

      • I knew Carl at Carswell and Ellsworth AFB, SD in 4 ACCS. This is hearsay, but His crew was flying a night mission during the winter when it was snowing. The A/C didn’t want the wings de-iced and Carl allegedly said to the pilot, “If you don’t, you’re going without a boom operator.”

        Comment by Clarence E. Vold CMSgt (Ret) | May 5, 2015

      • When 0048 crashed, the weather was clear about 70 deg. My father never mentioned any de-icing story, which is unrelated to this crash, perhaps you have him confused with someone else. Also, he does not remember anyone named Vold. As to why he and the instructor nav departed after the initial landing (which is written in the accident report), perhaps he was finished with his evaluation, had other work he needed to do that day, and had his flying hours in for the month.
        What I can say as fact, he went TDY to U-Tapao RTAFB a few months later, and his aircrew was involved in what’s known as a “tanker save” in the combat zone, and they all received the DFC. He was later promoted to E-7 and retired after he had 2 years in rank well below his HYT. My whole family and extended family supported this decision. He also was part of Standboard inspection for the boom operators, and had to write people up at times, which may have offended some.
        I have read the posts on comment 48 also. My father was personal friends with many of his crew members and cared very much for them. He was heartbroken by this accident.

        Comment by CB | September 10, 2015

      • The de-icing incident was a night mission at Ellsworth AFB when he was in 4th ACCS. The story going around the squadron was that the A/C was not going to de-ice the aircraft and your dad told the A/C he would have to fly without a boom operator. At Carswell, the boom annual check was complete, and there was no reason for him to stay on the aircraft for a bunch of touch and go landings. The taxi-back was planned for the evaluator navigator. My understanding was that your dad was going to stay with the flight but changed his mind. As far as him remembering me, that was at least 40 years ago. I’m not positive but I think your dad’s pilot in the 4th ACCS was nicknamed the “thumper” for how loud he beat his feet on the floor of the cockpit.
        If he wants to figure out who I am tell him to buy “Farmer’s Son, Military Career,” my life story available in hard copy and e-book from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

        Comment by Clarence E. Vold, CMSgt - retired | September 11, 2015

      • When 0048 crashed the weather was not a factor, clear and about 70 deg. I had never heard any de-icing story from my father, which would be unrelated to this, so perhaps you have confused him with someone else. He also does not remember anyone named Vold. He flew on many missions over SE Asia, including “tanker saves” in the combat zone, and retired honorably after having the required 2 year TIG for E-7. Also, you deleted my last comment so if you delete this please delete the “heresay” posted about my dad.

        Comment by CB | September 10, 2015

      • He had over 500 combat hours and many TDY’s to Minot. It’s unlikely a little ice would have stopped him if the A/C thought it was safe. I didn’t see a single mishap due to icing. Perhaps it’s a “sea-story” to encourage younger boom’s to be more vigilant. How long were you a boom and what rank were you?

        Comment by CB | September 16, 2015

      • I’m not sure what I am replying to and my story about deicing was based on squadron gossip and involved the evaluator boom operator on the KC-135 accident at Carswell. It did happen at Ellsworth AFB on a night mission in the winter. It was snowing and the takeoff delayed with snow building on the wings. The aircraft was deiced and flew the mission without incident. I was medically grounded after about 6 years as a boom operator and although I was very disappointed to be grounded in the long run it was the better for me because I retired from active duty at Beale AFB as a CMSgt and my last duty title was Superintendent, 9th SRW Standardization and Evaluation Division. There were a lot of boom operators that were as good or better than me and they did not retire as CMSgt. My rank came from my experience in operations management.

        Comment by Clarence E. Vold, CMSgt - retired | September 18, 2015

      • My dad was one of those that kept every personnel paper given him (unclass only). PCS, TDY, additional duty rosters, decoration orders, promotion orders, etc. Hundreds of names, crew members, even boom operators not on his crew. I looked through it very carefully, and did not see the name Vold. The two of you never went TDY together anywhere. You may have known of him, but you never said you and he were friends and if you knew him, you would have been his friend. He was a great guy and would have done anything for a friend.

        Every morning I would hear WWV chiming in the house as he had to have his watch on the second. He was obsessed with time and being on time even decades after retirement and never late to anything. Before he was a boom, he was an aircraft mechanic for a few years until someone noticed his dedication and brought him up to flightcrew. He wouldn’t hesitate to get his hands into the hydraulic fluid and oil or turn a wrench, and probably would have helped remove the ice and snow from the plane himself it meant making takeoff time.

        In your own words you state the Ellsworth story is based on hearsay and gossip. I’ve known my dad for over five decades and seen his reactions in may scenarios. I don’t believe the ice story, and I hope that you as a professional NCO would not believe rumors either.

        Comment by CB | September 19, 2015

      • First point – it was snow not ice. The day after a flight crewmembers in the squadron talked about what happened during the flights the previous night It was a very plausible story with a lot of variables. A night flight in the winter at EAFB with snow falling, the takeoff delayed perhaps by either of the ECs requiring maintenance – on training flights two would take off with a ten minute separation. The wing staff is pushing to get them in the air, is there some training requirement that is considered critical? Your dad was a very conscientious crewmember and flight safety oriented. I don’t understand why you find this so hard to believe – preventing a dangerous takeoff, if it happened that way, is not a knock on your dad, I consider it courageous.

        I did not talk about him as a friend and I would say we were were as good of friends as two men can be basically just passing in the hallway or squadron. If we had more time together I know we would have been good friends. I don’t remember ever being on alert with your dad and I know we were never TDY together. I was at EAFB from 72 to 75 (4th ACCS from 73 to 75) and 78 to 82 and I don’t remember when your dad was in the 4th ACCS. I do remember him in mission planning at EAFB giving his crew a hard time and strange as this may seem – his laugh. On my second tour I was only on a crew for about 8 months and was medically ground for chronic sinusitis. I went to EC-135 scheduling and in 1980 transferred to the missile wing as a crew scheduler. At Carswell I was grounded for a pinched nerve in my back and when I went back to flying no one was on alert at Carswell so our schedules rarely had us in the same location.

        For crewmembers there were other bonds – a common bond in refueling other aircraft, boom operators sharing the experience of flying the boom during these refueling. Your crew was your second family. During TDY to Thailand, all boom operators lived in the same barracks so there was a lot more personal contact. Without that personal contact it wasn’t that easy to make close friends, but we were all KC-135 or EC-135 crews

        Comment by Clarence E. Vold, CMSgt - retired | September 26, 2015

      • Chief, Thank you for sharing you memories on this. Respectfully,

        Comment by CB | September 26, 2015

      • I’m many years late here on this thread. My Dad is Major John P. Bartoszek (stationed at Plattsburgh Air Force Base, retired in 1972 and now 87 years old) was friends with Major Charles N. Ventimiglia. Are there any news clippings from this crash that I might be able to share with him? He just recently asked me to check for him. Thank you. I’m not finding anything official searching online.

        Comment by Monica Bartoszek | March 6, 2020

      • @Maj. Bartoszek’s daughter,

        Official USAF accident reports are kept on file at KAFB, NM. Any civilian newspapers from 1972 would not tell you much even if they had them archived. The base is closed now, at least the USAF part of it, so it’s not likely you could get the old base newspaper. Besides, it wouldn’t tell you much either. There is more detail in this thread than you could get from the paper.

        I was physically there as an elementary school student. The sky was clear blue, little wind around noon time. There was an extremely loud noise followed by a huge cloud of pitch black smoke billowing up from the flight-line. The school was just adjacent to the flight-line.

        I have the accident report and the primary cause was pilot error. The plane was on a high level idle approach that exceeded the glide-slope parameters.

        The mission was a check ride or evaluation mission. They went out, refueled a B-52, came back landed because the check ride was over. The instructor Navigator and instructor Boom Operator deplaned at that time.

        For whatever reason, the crew decided to do more touch-and-gos. So they entered the pattern with two other planes, did two successful touch-and-gos and on the third one they crashed. Scroll down to section 48 at the end I put in detail what happened.

        Weather was not a factor, maintenance records show no problems, weight and balance was good, all pilots on board were fully qualified. Maj. V had a massive amount of flying hours on this plane and several others. He was a command pilot. He had several Air Medals also.

        Someone named Vold might try to get in hear trying to plug some book he wrote but his version doesn’t match up to the accident report. Also, the Instructor Boom Operator (my dad, who has now passed on) said he didn’t know him.

        As to who was actually in control of the plane during the crash, the report doesn’t say, but I imagine all these guys were fighting to keep the plane in the air so they could come home to their families. Unfortunately we military men are a stoic group who don’t tolerate failure and responsibly always rests on the shoulders of the commander. Maj. V was the Aircraft Commander on this mission.

        I will link to his gravesite here:

        Comment by CB | April 25, 2020

      • It looks like someone on Facebook had the newspaper clipping. The Facebook account is Tanker Losses. Here is a link to the clipping:

        Comment by CB | May 3, 2020

      • CB and all, thank you for the info and the newspaper clipping. Monica Bartoszek

        Comment by Monica Bartoszek | May 13, 2020

    • 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

      • For more on this crash, see record # 48.

        Comment by Michael Hickey | September 11, 2015

    • My crew was mission planning when aircraft crashed when we were told that Maj Ventimiglia aircraft crashed on the runway. He was an experienced and capable instructor pilot except he had the reputation for making “idle engine” approaches and this seems like the most obvious reason for the crash.
      Tests indicated that it took six and a fraction seconds for those engines to go from idle to full thrust and most of the increase in thrust came in the last fraction of a second
      They landed after the check rides were complete and the evaluator navigator and boom operator got off the aircraft. The evaluator boom operator had planned to stay on the aircraft after takeoff but for some reason he could not explain he changed his mind.
      The aircraft took off and crashed on the first approach. Witnesses saw the aircraft rolling left and right, 45 degrees or so left and 75 degrees or so right. The right wingtip contacted the runway and veered off to the right and the aircraft cartwheeled when the wingtip hit the grass.
      Capt North was a stan/eval co-pilot on a PUP ride. The aircraft crashed on a Monday and the Friday before the flight his wife had a baby boy.
      Bruce Klaverkamp was in the first class of “Baby boomers,” i.e. airmen that went directly from basic training to flight school at Castle AFB rather than NCOs like me that cross-trained into the boom field.

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

      • I want to respond to two incorrect statements posted above by Vold.

        The first incorrect Vold statement is this: “The evaluator boom operator had planned to stay on the aircraft after takeoff but for some reason he could not explain he changed his mind.”

        Directly from the accident report: “The mission was flown as briefed, with no malfunctions noted during flight.” “The standboard checks were completed and after the first landing, (name redacted) and (name redacted) the two standboard instructors, deplaned.”

        This is from the local newspaper: “…two members of an evaluation team, after checking the crew inflight, got off the plane and the ship took off again.”

        The evaluators were an instructor navigator and an instructor boom operator, neither of which fly the plane. Majors that are pilots do not take orders from enlisted men. Had the two instructors remained on the plane, and all other things being equal, they would have also died. They would have been sitting in the jump seats aft of the crew bulk head, either reading or biding their time. Not flying the plane. Navigators and Boom operators do not fly the plane or instruct pilots how to fly. Nor do they hang around the crew compartment during landings trying to backseat-fly the plane.

        The better question is why did they resume flying. My best guess is they needed more flying hours for their flight pay because it was mid-month and you need to accrue so many hours of flight time each month to get flight pay. Evidently the two instructors didn’t need any more flying hours, otherwise they may have stayed on the plane.

        After doing an check ride or standboard check, paperwork has to be accomplished and documented. That would be another reason to not want to hang around. There is no mention of pass or fail on the accident report so presumably the navigator and boom operator must have passed their checkride. Even if they hadn’t passed, they would not be the ones flying the plane and it would have made no difference in the outcome.

        Enlisted members do not get to arbitrarily tell Aircraft Commanders to land so they can get off the plane and then not be able to explain themselves.

        The second incorrect Vold statement is this: “The aircraft took off and crashed on the first approach.”

        Directly from the accident report: “Two uneventful touch-and-go landings were accomplished. On the third approach, the pilot requested a VFR high approach,…” the crash then followed.

        The plane did not then crash on its first landing attempt but on its third. This is relevant because it proves the aircraft and aircrew were functioning properly prior to the crash. Not just once but twice. The only thing different was the VFR high approach which was attempt too high above safe glideslope causing loss of control.

        Additionally, retired enlisted people do not get to rewrite established accident reports regardless of their rank. At the time of this accident, Vold was likely an A1C or SSgt, was not a member of this crew, was not part of the standboard team and was not part of the official accident report team. Furthermore the instructor boom operator never even heard of the guy.

        Finally I want to respond to a claim Vold is making. He claims to have been “promoted to the highest enlisted rank.” This statement is missleading. The highest enlisted rank is “Chief Master Sergeant of The Air Force”. At the time Vold claims to have retired (1989) that rank was held by James C. Binnicker.

        Comment by CB | May 12, 2020

      • EVERY member of my crew, including the navigator and boom operator, regardless of rank, when on the flight deck had the authority to direct a go-around during an unsafe approach or landing, and ***were expected to do so***. I briefed this during every approach we made, and even practiced it during training. This was/is taught at CCTS as part of crew resource management (CRM). It is irresponsible and misleading to suggest that an EN or EBO would have no ability to intervene in an unsafe approach or landing simply because they are not pilots or officers. We have no idea if they would have prevented the unsafe approach with its catastrophic outcome in this tragic case, but they could have–perhaps resulting in an ugly debriefing after the flight rather than a AIB.

        Comment by Robert S Hopkins, III | May 12, 2020

      • @ Above comment, Wrong, Boom Operators do not direct safety of flight. Their were three qualified pilots on this mission, all sitting in the crew compartment. The instructor navigator and instructor boom operator do not fly the plane nor do they have the right to tell a qualified crew to tell them how to fly. I don’t know what Air Force you think you are a part of, but the Air Force of this country goes by rank and qualifications. To stand at the bulk head and argue with the flying crew would itself invite safety of flight issues, and afterwards an investigation leading to a court martial. It would be absolute mutiny to try to take command of a plane inflight from it’s rightful Aircraft Commander.

        Comment by CB | May 13, 2020

      • Please share your Aeronautical rating and total KC-135/KC-10 flight hours.

        You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about.

        Comment by Robert S Hopkins, III | May 13, 2020

      • @Robert S Hopkins, III “Every member of my crew…etc”

        Your claiming to be an Aircraft Commander, correct. If a navigator or boom operator who are not trained in flying a KC-135 heard their aircraft commander say “if you think I am doing something unsafe, speak up.” How would they even know you’re doing something unsafe? What authority do they have to tell a lawful Aircraft Commander how to fly. Are they trained to fly? Does the pilot tell the navigator when he is unsafe? Does the pilot stand over the boom operator at the tail end of the plane and tell him how to fly the boom. No, they do not. In the Air Force, each man has his responsibility.

        If I were on your crew Robert, and you told me to second guess your flying ability in the event you suddenly started flying dangerously, I would think immediately you are not qualified and wonder if you got your pilot’s license from a crackerjack box. Hopefully you are not still flying anything. And hopefully any current flying officer does not think some enlisted boom operator can save them from their own bad decisions. They will not be able to.

        Can you imagine boarding a commercial airliner to be greeted by the pilot and him say: if I suddenly do something unsafe, please take control from me. Ridiculous!

        Comment by CB | May 13, 2020

      • Again, you clearly have no understanding of CRM, how crew coordination works, or experience with military aviation culture. Any further discussion would be fruitless.

        Comment by Robert S Hopkins, III | May 13, 2020

      • Bob, this was an excellent assessment. Those of us in the RC business know we operate as a team. All are responsible for mission success and aircrew safety. Well stated.

        Comment by Dr. K.A. Crooks | May 13, 2020

      • Thanks Kerry. I know you’ve been there and respect your experience.

        Comment by Robert S Hopkins, III | May 13, 2020

      • Just an observation of the “back and forth” discussion about the role of the non pilots between “CB” and “Robert S. Hopkins III”

        Pilot training 1966, retired 1994. My tanker background, 8000 hours, 26 years, equally divided between KC135s & KC10. Crew dog, CCTS IP, in both, Squadron Commander in the KC10. Flew C7s in SEA, and tagged on 16 more years with Delta Air Lines. Been there, done that, got the tee shirt, so to speak.

        While good CRM is essential, when it comes to the nitty gritty of flying the pilot(s), specifically the designated aircraft commander gets the “last and only vote” that counts. If another crewmember feels there is or about to be a safety of flight issue, he (or she) is certainly obligated to bring it to the pilots flying attention, and they would be remiss in their duties if they did not. Once that communication has been made, they have fulfilled their duty.

        Boils down to the old, somewhat morbid adage, “First person to the scene of an aircraft accident is the pilot”!

        I have posted quite a few comments on this particular accident as I remember when it happened and what some of the corrective actions were, i.e. “unit training flights”.

        Comment by rofcibc | May 13, 2020

      • @Robert S Hopkins, III “Every member of my crew…etc”

        Your claiming to be an Aircraft Commander, correct. If a navigator or boom operator who are not trained in flying a KC-135 heard their aircraft commander say “if you think I am doing something unsafe, speak up.” How would they even know you’re doing something unsafe? What authority do they have to tell a lawful Aircraft Commander how to fly. Are they trained to fly? Does the pilot tell the navigator when he is unsafe? Does the pilot stand over the boom operator at the tail end of the plane and tell him how to fly the boom. No, they do not. In the Air Force, each man has his responsibility.

        If I were on your crew Robert, and you told me to second guess your flying ability in the event you suddenly started flying dangerously, I would think immediately you are not qualified and wonder if you got your pilot’s license from a crackerjack box. Hopefully you are not still flying anything. And hopefully any current flying officer does not think some enlisted boom operator can save them from their own bad decisions. They will not be able to.

        Can you imagine boarding a commercial airliner to be greeted by the pilot and him say: if I suddenly do something unsafe, please take control from me. Ridiculous!

        @Robert S Hopkins, III And I say you don’t know what you are talking about and are unsuited to fly if you think a boom operator should be second guessing your flying.

        Comment by CB | May 13, 2020

      • Any person that’s actually served in the military knows the commanding officer makes the final say. Besides, it does not matter anyway, both stand board members would have been in the jump seats in back as passengers, not in the crew compartment had they remained. Hopefully Hopkins isn’t trying to pin the blame for this on the young boom operator who also died. I know how some officers like to shirk their responsibility. Hopkins assertions are utterly ridiculous. My father told me how their were members of the squadron who hounded him, presumably that he should have died in the crash. Perhaps there are some here. Those people are sick minded maybe I can weed them out and sue them for it. So please continue.

        Comment by CB | May 13, 2020

      • @CB Just for my own edification, what is your KC135 experience? Or just aviation experience in general. You are making some pretty bold statements, not to mention a really dumb one, i.e.

        “Can you imagine boarding a commercial airliner to be greeted by the pilot and him say: if I suddenly do something unsafe, please take control from me. Ridiculous!”

        Nothing in the 135 accident being discussed has any bearing on that comment, which in itself was, as you said “Ridiculous”!

        Comment by rofcibc | May 13, 2020

      • I don’t know who you all are, and I really don’t care. Can you please stop the dick measuring? I hope you know that a lot of people besides the individuals you are talking to are alerted to these notifications. I’m on this board because my father died in one of these accidents, I came here to seek closure and find out who my father was in the military, so have a lot of other people. Please take your Ego’s out of this and realize you are on the internet, and if you actually are who you claim with your credentials, you should hold yourself to a higher standard and stop acting like children, there are plenty of other places on the internet to argue besides here.
        Andrew Henry

        Comment by Andrew | May 13, 2020

      • You wish to discredit me based on a question. Whereas before it was argued that any crew member regardless of pilot flying hours has the authority to request a go around. How many pilot flying hours does a boom operator have or a navigator?

        My qualifications: I was eyewitness to the accident, I was there. I have the accident report and I have read it many times. I personally knew the instructor boom operator for years and talked with them about it many times. I have intimate knowledge of aircraft test and evaluation, instrumentation, Air Force procedures, and military law as it pertains to chain of command. I say that I am qualified to speak on this.

        Are you more qualified to speak on this than the actual accident investigators? Everything I have stated is consistent with the accident report.

        Because my father almost died in this accident, I have made it my business to know about this accident. Any of my comments are directed at this accident alone and if “you don’t care” Andrew why bother posting anything.

        Anyone posting further on this, should state their relationship to the accident, if they knew any crew members, if they read the accident report. If they were ever on an accident board, etc… Rather than just saying I have X amount of flying time so my opinion counts more than the other person. I don’t buy it.

        Comment by CB | May 13, 2020

      • By repeatedly asking me my flying hours you simply prove my point and defeat the point you are trying to argue. You say the other crew members have a say, but they do not. You have the rank, the pilot rating, and the hours. The other crew members are victim to your bad decisions.

        Because the moment a boom operator or navigator suggested you are not flying safely, you would immediately ask them: “what are your total flying hours boom operator?’ to get them to shut up and then have them bring you coffee. Just like you are doing now by trying to discredit me. You would discredit any boom operator or navigator who dared to question you.

        Then afterwards run to the squadron commander to have them removed from the crew. Boom operators have no control over what pilots do. None! Their life is in your hands pilot.

        Comment by CB | May 13, 2020

      • I, as a boom operator, was never ignored by my crew when I had a question or observed a problem. I know of a flight at Ellsworth AFB where a pilot definitely did listen to his boom operator – who was on the tanker that crashed at Carswell. On a night winter flight snow was accumulating on the wings. The BO asked the pilot if was going to have the plane deiced. The pilot said no. The boom said then you’re flying without a boom operator and started to get off the aircraft. The aircraft was deiced.

        Comment by Kip Vold | May 21, 2020

      • Some of the comments made in this thread about this accident do not reflect my Air Force flying experience. Particularly non-pilot crew members not being able to question the pilot in command, or any senior ranking officer, regarding a safety issue or procedure.

        My recollection is the same as that of Robert S. Hopkins. Pre flight briefings included the responsibility of EVERYONE to say something if they saw something unsafe or a poor decision being made.

        One KC-135 example from the late 70s. I was in the jump seat between the pilots. On take-off, shortly after departing the end of runway 23 at Grissom AFB, the gear lever was pulled up, but one warning light remained on, showing one of the mains did not fully retract, BOTH pilots, including me the lowly flight surgeon, focused full attention on that light. The boom immediately and emphatically said “FLY THE AIRPLANE. Sounded like an order to me! Shortly after, the A/C repeatedly thanked the BO, and did so again during the debrief. We were low, slow and heavy, so a different outcome probably was prevented by the BO.

        I am not sure why CB is so defensive in this particular thread. I have not read where anyone has anything but kind thoughts about CB’s father. My experience was that the aircraft crew was to function as team, without regard to rank or rating, from pre-flight to post flight briefing.

        Comment by Dan Kangley | May 13, 2020

      • It seems everyone wants to have the final say on this. What is your motive?

        Have you read the official accident report? If you have you would know the cause of the accident was pilot error.

        Did you know any of the two evaluators? If so, what did they tell you?

        Where you a member of this squadron during the accident? If so provide some details, squadron commander etc…

        My experience with military generally is they have something called rank. And the ranking person is in charge.

        Navigators and Boom Operators do not tell Aircraft Commanders how to fly their planes.

        Also, the way the crew compartment is laid out, the Navigator and Boom Operator would not have a clear view of the instrument panel or the view out the window. At least not as clear as the pilot and copilot or aircraft commander. Passengers in the back would have no view.

        Navigators and Boom Operators receive no training on the flying of an aircraft.

        It would be like me trying to blame a passenger in the backseat of my car for running into a tree while I was at the wheel. I would get the ticket, not my passenger.

        Both evaluators would not have even been near the crew compartment during landing, they would have been passengers in the back. Totally unaware of what was happening. Had they suddenly felt the plane sink, they would not have been able to rush to the crew compartment and warn the pilot to fly more safely. There was no time for that.

        Comment by CB | May 13, 2020

      • There are many KC-135 accidents listed here. Please tell me of any one where the cause of the accident was attributed to a boom operator or navigator. Please tell me of one that was attributed to a passenger in the back of the plane. Any accident attributed to some crew member not speaking up in time because of a dangerous pilot.

        Not your opinion. An official accident report that says any of these things.

        That says the primary cause of the accident was boom operator error, or primary cause was passenger error, or not speaking up error. In writing on the accident report.

        Comment by CB | May 13, 2020

      • Stop.

        Comment by Dr. K.A. Crooks | May 13, 2020

      • @ CB

        I am not sure if any of your questions were directed at me, but if so:

        I don’t think anyone disputes that the cause of this accident was not from pilot error. No one knows if any of the crew voiced any concern about the procedures used by whichever pilot was flying during those last approaches. That is not in the accident report, because we have no CVR, and tragically no one survived. I also do not believe anyone is suggesting that if your dad and the IN had stayed on, they could have prevented the accident.

        What I believe you have written is that in general, no one, especially a Nav or BO, can question whether what the pilot is doing is unsafe. And you seem to hold rank and rating above all else. My “motive” then, is to say that belief is dangerous and misinformed, and not how Air Force flying was in my day.

        Comment by Dan Kangley | May 13, 2020

      • @Crooks

        Who is the owner of this blogsite. You?

        If it is not you, you have no more control over what is posted than I do.

        I am more than willing to cease and desist from this conversation unless something further is posted in which case, I will be back. As a family member of one of those involved, I have a right to speak on this. And I will.

        I have the accident report and the cause is Pilot Error.

        Not failure to speak up on someone else’s part.


        Boom Operators are the only enlisted members of the refueling aircrew. As such they perform many of the mundane tasks such as making coffee, serving coffee, loading the officers luggage. My dad called it Red Cap. Said a lieutenant threw a coffee cup at him demanding more coffee. Also said one navigator didn’t even know how to shoot a sextant properly. It is written that everyone is responsible for safety, I know. Some pilots may take a boom operator seriously while others may not. Why pretend what is written has anything to do with reality.

        Had these two instructors stayed on the plane, they would have also been dead. That is the fact.

        Comment by CB | May 13, 2020

      • 🙄

        Comment by Dr. K.A. Crooks | May 13, 2020

      • @CB

        We seem to be discussing two different things.

        1. The cause of this accident

        2. Air Force flight crew safety obligations generally.

        “I have the accident report and the cause is Pilot Error.”

        That fact is not disputed.

        “Not failure to speak up on someone else’s part”

        That may be true as well. No CVR. But the posts here never claimed that was the cause.

        Some of the posts have said that all crew members can and should say something if they believe something unsafe is happening (or will happen). You also seem to agree on that.

        “It is written that everyone is responsible for safety, I know.”

        So we seem to agree on that point as well — finally.

        “Boom Operators are the only enlisted members of the refueling aircrew.”

        Yep. Knew that. I flew with them and provided medical care to them and their families. I went on a number of TDYs with various flight crews. The BO was always a part of the group doing fun things on those trips. Those crews I was a part of treated the BO respectfully. None of the officer/enlisted BS. That seemed to be the norm in my experience. Besides, the BO was responsible for calculating the fuel and CG weight and balance prior to landing. That lieutenant throwing a coffee cup probably didn’t have a clue. As far as using the sextant, not easy. I did it (attempted) several times. My admiration was great for ALL the crew members, their duties and responsibilities. That was why flight surgeons were on flight status. To really understand the job and environment of the flyers. That also included the people in Life Support, RAPCON, the Tower, etc., who did not fly. Keeping the squadrons operational was complicated and everyone had a roll.

        “Had these two instructors stayed on the plane, they would have also been dead. That is the fact.”

        Never claimed otherwise. They were lucky to have made the decision to get off. I may have been lucky too, as the BO may have saved my life by telling the pilots to do their job.

        We are all on the same side here.

        Comment by Dan Kangley | May 14, 2020

      • @Kangley, You take me out of context.

        I also said “Some pilots may take a boom operator seriously while others may not. Why pretend what is written has anything to do with reality.”

        The government also encourages whistleblowers to come forward claiming they are protected when they are not.

        Everyone has a responsibility to be safe, especially pilots. They do not have the prerogative to blame it on someone else because that someone else was not aware of their incompetence. To make that implication is dangerous and irresponsible. Hopefully no pilot flying today thinks they can act carelessly then pin the blame on someone else.

        Officer pilots must learn to take responsibility for their own bad decisions. Not rely on some non-flying crew member to save them.

        You could go to anyone of these accidents and try to shirk the pilots responsibly by saying it’s some other man’s duty to point out their mistakes. Why choose this accident? To torment me? To rewrite the accident report in some odd way. Do you enjoy arguing with the family members of accident survivors? I said I was willing to stop, but you have to keep it going. Why?

        If you will stop, this can be the last post:

        Officer pilots do not take orders from non-pilots or enlisted men.

        Repeatedly blurting out orders to an aircrew by a non-flyer would result in loss of flying status and disciplinary action.

        This accident was caused by pilot error. Not by someone failing to speak up.

        Comment by CB | May 14, 2020

      • Your last sentence is the only one that makes sense. I essentially state that pilot error – the IP’s reputation for an unsafe practice – most likely caused the accident. What is the basis for the rest of your comments? I fully understand and accept the chain of command in the cockpit!

        Comment by Kip Vold | May 14, 2020

      • CB, I am so sorry for your loss. That is something that you will never get over. We are never ready to lose a family member. I am in my late 60’s and several years ago lost my parents, both at the point of being 90 years old. Still too soon. I am concerned that you have taken Robert’s words and those of others and misinterpreted them drastically. As a former flight surgeon at Grissom as is Dr. Kangley, accident investigator while in the U.S.A.F., 730 hours flight experience with 200 hours of twin experience, twin rating, instrument and commercial tickets, I believe I understand much of the aerodynamics of the issues. I do not presume to be a jet pilot or a -135 pilot. I am, however, an M.D.,Ph.D. of some 40 years and I perform procedures working in the spine on the discs of the neck, mid-back and low back. What I do could kill easily if I made a mistake. In the operating rooms of America today, the rule is that there will always be a “timeout” at the beginning of the procedure to state exactly what procedure is to be accomplished and EVERYONE in the room is supposed to acknowledge they understand. That means me as the surgeon, the anesthesia staff, the circulator, the scrub tech and the x-ray tech. We all have to be on the same page. I will tell you that in the 3 procedures I performed on the neck yesterday, I was at least 20 years older than every other individual in the room and have more years of experience performing the procedures that I was doing than any of those individuals have been in medicine. The point of all of this is that I have no problem if someone in the room were to see me failing to include a step I normal take or doing something that I do not normally do then letting me know. If the x-ray tech were to see one of my spine needles passing through the disc into the spinal canal, I would want that person to speak up immediately. It is not that I would ever cede authority to any of those individuals but I do want their input if indicated and I want them to know that I respect their position. If there is ever a complication, it is my fault, CB, and not the fault of anyone else. I believe that is basically what Robert was trying to say. I believe that is the basics of that retired tanker and airline pilot’s viewpoint. In the cockpit, it is CRM. It is the same in medicine, just not called the same thing. No one can measure the pain that you have because of losing your father. I just hope you can understand that no pilot is going to blame the BO or NAV for the pilot’s failure to keep flying the airplane. May God bless you.

        Comment by Stephen Watson | May 14, 2020

      • Just realized that this thread goes back 7 years, but due to the formatting, or lack thereof, trying to follow the “who says what & when” is kind of hard.

        CB…I found your first post from 5 years ago so now know your interest in this accident, and a little more about your background.

        Regarding the “commanding officer” you refer to. In the case of a flight there will be one individual designated as the PIC, (Pilot In Command). There may be more senior officers on board, but that PIC is the one who makes the call regarding the conduct of that flight. This designation is specified on the flight orders and that person signed the DD175 (flight plan).

        Back in the day there was a provision to change that designation during the flight. If and IP was on board to perform some specific training, i.e. touch & go landings, upgrade training for unqualified pilots (as was happening on the Carswell crash) he would become the PIC during the time the specific events were taking place. I don’t know if the IP was the actual aircraft commander for the mission or just there to do the upgrade training.

        Out of that accident came a training event, specifically for new IPs. We set up a steep idle power approach, in landing configuration, gear & flaps. We were above 10000 AGL and pulled the throttles to idle, and set up a constant speed descent. The VVI rapidly was 3000 fpm or more. Then we had the student try and arrest the descent, with pitch and full power. In most cases it took 3000 feet to level off, at flying speed. In the case of the Carswell crash, they only had 1000 feet before they hit the ground.

        Unfortunately at that time the KC135 did not have FDR, and CVR installed, as they do now. So a lot of actual data of what took place was not available.

        Comment by rofcibc | May 14, 2020

      • @CB

        Why keep this going? Well, you are accusing me of positions and statements I have never made.

        “Officer pilots do not take orders from non-pilots or enlisted men”

        I did not mean to imply they did. I actually do know the chain of command.

        Let me clarify my previous comment about the BO forcefully telling the pilots to fly the airplane rather than focus on a landing gear warning light. I never intended to mean it was a REAL ORDER from the BO to the pilots. If Wing Commander Col. Wallace had been on board and used the same tone and emphasis, I could interpret those same words as an order I suppose. But the INTENT would be the same. The BO observed an unsafe situation and was quick to say something immediately. Both pilots were thankful. I also understood safety in the Air Force flying I experienced, and no one was going to discuss semantics during a bad situation to evaluate the chain of command and who was qualified to say what to whom. It could get you killed.

        “Some pilots may take a boom operator seriously while others may not. Why pretend what is written has anything to do with reality.”

        I never denied that some pilots may or may not take a BO seriously.

        “Everyone has a responsibility to be safe, especially pilots. They do not have the prerogative to blame it on someone else because that someone else was not aware of their incompetence. To make that implication is dangerous and irresponsible. Hopefully no pilot flying today thinks they can act carelessly then pin the blame on someone else. Officer pilots must learn to take responsibility for their own bad decisions. Not rely on some non-flying crew member to save them.”

        And I agree with you. I never said otherwise. I did say that any crew member could and should say something if they observe a problem or risk. That was the standard. That is not the same as saying careless pilots rely on non-flying crew members to save them, or can blame others for their mistakes. Are you accusing me of saying that? That they try to blame others? I never said that. If so, please give me a quote.

        “Why choose this accident? To torment me? To rewrite the accident report in some odd way. Do you enjoy arguing with the family members of accident survivors?”

        Where does this come from? Where did I say some one other than the pilot flying was responsible for THIS accident? Where in this thread did anyone else make that accusation?

        “This accident was caused by pilot error. Not by someone failing to speak up”

        And where did I, or anyone else for that matter, say otherwise?

        I certainly am not trying to torment you or have any intent to do so. Can you give me an example?

        Please don’t accuse me of enjoying arguing with family members. You are very fortunate to have had your dad escape from this accident.

        Comment by Dan Kangley | May 14, 2020

      • @Kangley,

        You are arguing and making implications. Perhaps you don’t see it or refuse to.

        You seem to want to discuss your incident that you mention over and over again. Fine.

        You’ve said you were a flight surgeon on an observation mission where the pilots performed unsafely and if it were not for a boom operator, who is not qualified to fly, there may have been a crash. You said he probably saved your life. True?

        My question is:
        Did you report this to have the crew evaluated and possibly grounded?

        If you did not, you should have. Their names could have wound up on this list of accidents. Hopefully they are not on here.

        Shouldn’t it have been the duty of a flight surgeon to report any observations that could lead to a mishap?

        I would think it the duty of every officer to report anything unsafe after an incident you so describe.

        Comment by CB | May 14, 2020

      • @Kangley,

        Just a few more questions in addition to those above:

        In your scenario, you say the landing gear failed to fully retract on takeoff, and the pilot was brought to his senses by the boom operator.

        I’d like to know what happened next.

        Did the pilot declare an in-flight-emergency, notifying tower, Base Ops, SOF, then request emergency landing procedures?

        All landing gear failures are in-flight-emergencies. Failure of the landing gear is a red x safety of flight matter. It could be anything that cause it, even a loose tool.

        Your scenario seems to indicate the mission proceeded as planned. Did it?

        Why did no one speak up about this in flight?

        Did you report this later?

        Should you have?

        Comment by CB | May 14, 2020

      • @CB
        Yikes. If I am arguing and making implications, please quote me. I believe I and others here have completely agreed with your conclusions about the cause of THIS accident.

        Regarding my incident, I think the boom may well have saved us. There are aviation accidents that happened when a pilot or pilots focused on something that was not critical, and forgot to continue to fly the airplane. This was one example. Despite the BO not being qualified to fly, he had enough flying and crew experience to immediately warn the pilots. Do you have any problem with that? Those guys did not.

        As far as reporting this and trying to ground the crew — respectfully, you don’t seem to know what you are talking about? This was a great example of a crew working as a team to immediately recognize an issue and taking corrective action. And I actually did put it in my Medical Flight Log. Do you know anything about those? AF Form 404. Under OPERATIONAL FACTOR, I checked the box UNUSUAL INCIDENTS. The log has a narrative of what happened and the rest of the flight as well. All these logs, including this one was sent to and signed off by my superior, who was Lt. Col. Jon Lundquist. That was my chain of command.

        Maybe the real tanker pilots here can give a better perspective on this and crew obligations, but the crew did what they were supposed to at the time. And it appeared to be a positive learning experience.

        I looked up the record of this flight. The Weekly Aircrew Flying Schedule says it was 22 February 1978. KC-135A 63-7996. Capt. Fuller was A/C. Crew # E-169 of the 70ARS. Fuel load 145,000 lbs with water take off. We had a substitute BO, Kahler So he was not even part of the regular crew. I am sorry I don’t have first names or names of the others. I don’t recall that the 135 was necessarily a ball of fire if the air speed or pitch angle on take-off was neglected for any period of time when low, slow and heavy so attention to basic flight parameters was essential, although I do not claim to be a tanker pilot.

        As to some of your other questions, my Medical Flight Log narrative does say that SOF or Base Ops were contacted. I don’t know who specifically. The crew was instructed to put the aircraft through various maneuvers that eventually resulted in proper gear alignment and retraction. Then we proceeded with the mission. Why do you assume the crew would not do what they were trained to do in this situation?

        Again, CB, we are all on the same side here. No one wants to argue or torment you. We want to discuss, in a civil manner, the facts, not only of this accident but flying safety in general.

        Comment by Dan Kangley | May 15, 2020

      • In reference to the above scenario where landing gear failed to retract on takeoff:

        Landing gear is an essential safety of flight system on all aircraft. Failure of which would necessitate a mission abort.

        The proper course of action would be to:
        1. Declare in flight emergency
        2. Attempt to cycle landing gear
        3. Perform flyby to verify landing gear is down and locked
        4. Land aircraft with emergency personnel on scene

        After safe landing, maintenance personnel would tow the aircraft to dock, make an entry in the aircraft forms red xing the plane until the issue is resolved and signed off. This would involve the production superintendent and chief of maintenance.

        Had there been a mishap after immediately landing, the primary cause would be landing gear.

        If the crew continued the mission with faulty landing gear followed by a crash, the secondary cause would include pilot error.

        Comment by CB | May 15, 2020

      • CB,

        Did you happen to check the KC135 dash one before you composed this narrative?

        “In reference to the above scenario where landing gear failed to retract on takeoff:
        Landing gear is an essential safety of flight system on all aircraft. Failure of which would necessitate a mission abort.
        The proper course of action would be to
        1. Declare in flight emergency
        2. Attempt to cycle landing gear
        3. Perform flyby to verify landing gear is down and locked

        4. Land aircraft with emergency personnel on scene
        After safe landing, maintenance personnel would tow the aircraft to dock, make an entry in the aircraft forms red xing the plane until the issue is resolved and signed off.

        This would involve the production superintendent and chief of maintenance.

        Had there been a mishap after immediately landing, the primary cause would be landing gear.

        If the crew continued the mission with faulty landing gear followed by a crash, the secondary cause would include pilot error.”

        If not here it is from T.O. 1C-135 (K) A-1, section III, pg 3-57

        Two scenarios for “Emergency Retraction of Landing Gear”.

        First one, you just took off, had an engine loss, or other takeoff emergency where gear retraction is a vital necessity. it’s one step.

        “Landing Gear Override Trigger – Pull trigger aft and move the landing gear handle to the UP position.”

        Goes on to say that wheel well damage may result…yada, yada, yada!

        Second one, there are four steps.

        “1. Nose Gear Steering – Pilots check nose wheel centered
        2. Truck Level & Oleo Extension Indicators – BO visually makes sure the trucks are level
        3. Nose Gear – BO visually checks nose wheel centered
        4. Landing Gear Override Trigger – Pull trigger aft and move the landing gear handle to the UP position.”

        Then, while not specifically mentioned in Section III, hope to shit the gear don’t get jammed up by some unknown malfunction so you have to go through the “Emergency
        Extension of Landing Gear” as that is a real pain in the ass to do. (not as much as manually extending flaps….but close!)

        There is nothing in the dash one about declaring an emergency, cycling the landing gear, perform a flyby, nor abort the mission.

        When I was an IP at the CCTS had a situation where the nose gear failed to retract after about a dozen touch and goes. So we put gear handle down, got three green, and continued shooting another dozen or so touch and goes, but didn’t retract the gear any more. (i.e. continued, not aborted the mission) After final full stop landing, we taxied in, like we always do, went to Maintenance debrief, like we always do, and wrote the sucker up.

        Comment by rofcibc | May 15, 2020

      • As a former 135 crew chief I have to throw my several cents in to this mess. Several times the pilot gave me back an airplane that was non flyable upon full stop landing. If they can sort out the issue they press with the mission or continue training. Pilot and the crews decision.

        I was a Mildenhall in the eighties and a Q model on climb out had the nose gear not retract. They sorted it out and continued with the high priority mission. Oops…they left the handle in. Fortunately no linkage was broken and it was up to ops to figure out where the mistake was made. Maintenance stayed out of it.

        Climbing out of Keflavik another time we had #3 start rolling back and the co retarded the throttle to idle and it was smooth at flight idle. No emergency was declared and it was a smooth flight to Bangor. Bad wire to the fuel pump but it would gravity feed.

        Another time climbing out of March we had a #2 fire light illuminate. I was sitting in the IP seat and called it because both pilots had their heads out and didn’t see it. I don’t know what the boom was paying attention to. We did not declare for probably 45 minutes because we were sorting out the right hydraulic failure too. Great CRM from all. Even from this lowly crew chief, and great airmanship from the pilots.

        Comment by Marty K | May 15, 2020

      • Any pilot who continues to fly any aircraft while knowing a critical safety of flight system has failed, does so at their own peril, and that of their crew members.

        Hopefully they are no longer flying anything.

        Comment by CB | May 15, 2020

      • I did take the time to review the Technical Order mentioned above, and also found the following:

        “Sound Judgment. Instructions in this manual are for a crew inexperienced in the operation of this airplane. This manual provides the best possible operating instructions under most circumstances, but it is a poor substitute for sound judgment.”

        The casual reader should know that there are many Technical Orders on this aircraft alone, there are also many Air Force Safety regulations, FAA regulations, etc…

        I did find a procedure that mentions the very steps I stated in an above post and also recommends jettisoning the fuel.

        Other people may read this later. What would your judgment be? Would you ignore a landing gear failure and continue to fly? Would you want to fly on a commercial airliner with malfunctioning landing gear?

        I see there are some pilots here so I have a question. I personally was on a hop (KC-135) from California to Hickam. Myself and a Navy NCO were currying classified equipment. An Air Force Lieutenant in the right seat turned around and offered to let me fly the plane. Hopefully he was pulling my leg, I don’t know. I told him no.

        Does this seem like “sound judgment”?

        Comment by CB | May 16, 2020

      • @CB

        You wrote, “Other people may read this later. What would your judgment be? Would you ignore a landing gear failure and continue to fly? Would you want to fly on a commercial airliner with malfunctioning landing gear?”

        And that is exactly why some of us are commenting, to caution anyone reading this later that some of what you post about certain procedures and safety measures probably is misleading/misinformed at best, if not outright bogus, and not how things were done in regards to AF flying. The landing gear malfunction was NOT ignored and was addressed, while continuing to fly the aircraft and trouble shoot the problem. The mission proceeded AFTER it was resolved and safe to do so. Why did you invent some false narrative about my incident?

        More importantly, you seem to be making up your own emergency procedures. That is a problem.

        I do not have a Dash-1 or the Technical Orders available to me, and even if I did I would never presume to contradict or modify what they say. I would defer to and trust rofcibc’s review of the proper steps. In fact, I now recall that “2. Truck Level & Oleo Extension Indicators – BO visually makes sure the trucks are level” was what was done and was the problem. I don’t know the cause, and the Crew Chief here can probably educate us. The maneuvering procedures recommended by the SOF, or whoever, fixed it, and we were on our way. Absolutely nothing unsafe about it. Later, the BO was very grateful he did not have to manually work the landing gear.

        Your statement “If the crew continued the mission with faulty landing gear followed by a crash, the secondary cause would include pilot error.” and “Any pilot who continues to fly any aircraft while knowing a critical safety of flight system has failed, does so at their own peril, and that of their crew members. Hopefully they are no longer flying anything.” confirms your ignorance (sorry to be blunt, but you ignore and dismiss what rofcibc and Crew Chief Marty K, say what really happens and what I described). Ignoring the problem did not happen. Good grief CB. I have having difficulty understanding why you do not accept what the people who are knowledgable and have the expertise about these things are telling us.

        Comment by Dan Kangley | May 16, 2020

      • @Marty K

        “Another time climbing out of March we had a #2 fire light illuminate. I was sitting in the IP seat and called it because both pilots had their heads out and didn’t see it. I don’t know what the boom was paying attention to. We did not declare for probably 45 minutes because we were sorting out the right hydraulic failure too. Great CRM from all. Even from this lowly crew chief, and great airmanship from the pilots”

        Thank you for providing another example of what a non-pilot on the flight deck does to add to flight safety and help the pilots. See something, say something.

        Comment by Dan Kangley | May 16, 2020

      • All pilots should have a rudimentary knowledge of what systems constitute safety of flight for the particular airframe they are flying.

        The “-1” is not a maintenance Technical Order and was never intended as one. It is an operating instruction manual.

        Any failure that would cause an aircraft to be grounded before takeoff would also necessitate it be grounded while in flight if the same failure occurs. That is sound judgment.

        Comment by CB | May 16, 2020

      • CB writes

        “All pilots should have a rudimentary knowledge of what systems constitute safety of flight for the particular airframe they are flying.

        The “-1” is not a maintenance Technical Order and was never intended as one. It is an operating instruction manual.

        Any failure that would cause an aircraft to be grounded before takeoff would also necessitate it be grounded while in flight if the same failure occurs. That is sound judgment.”

        In reply to CB,

        Now your starting to sound like a pilot wannabee. Let me enlighten you to some of the salient points of pilot training as it pertains specifically to the KC135.
        Pilots have more than a “rudimentary knowledge” of systems, and the first order of business when attending the KC135 CCTS was a course on “Aircraft Systems” that back in the day was taught by maintenance troops who were assigned to the 4017th CCTS.

        In addition to being a USAF Pilot, I also spent 16 years flying for Delta Air Lines. Same thing there, “Systems Training” followed by written and oral examinations by the FAA. Happened ever year thereafter during “recurrent” training. In a nutshell, “been there, done that, got the tee shirt”

        “Safety of flight” is a concept that applied to all flight operations, except EWO. Note the operative word “flight”. “Ground” is a separate subject. BTW how do you “ground” an airplane that is already in “flight”? DB? Ferris? Anybody?

        The “-1” is more than an operating instruction manual, it is the “Flight Manual”, or at least that’s what is printed on the first page. Contains more than just systems and procedures. Things like, oh I don’t know, “flight characteristics”, “crew duties”, “all weather operation”, “performance data”. Further in the air refueling business there are “Air Refueling” manuals that are specific to not only the tanker (135 & 10), but to each and every receiver the tanker (135 or 10) is certified to refuel, and in the case of the KC10 which I also flew, a tanker that is also a receiver. There are also 135s that were “AC/DC”.

        As for your assertion that “a failure” that grounds an aircraft before takeoff, applies to flight…that is bullshit and if you don’t know it, you should!

        Do you know what an “MEL” is, and how it is applied? All the airlines have them, and some of the Air Force aircraft do too, most notably the KC10.

        In closing, in case I didn’t mention before, I have a secondary AFSC in maintenance. Went through maintenance officer training via ADSAC while I was at Castle as a CCTS IP. One of the best programs SAC ever had!

        Comment by rofcibc | May 16, 2020

      • @CB

        You earlier wrote:

        “My qualifications: I was eyewitness to the accident, I was there. I have the accident report and I have read it many times. I personally knew the instructor boom operator for years and talked with them about it many times. I have intimate knowledge of aircraft test and evaluation, instrumentation, Air Force procedures, and military law as it pertains to chain of command. I say that I am qualified to speak on this.”

        Can you clarify exactly HOW you have obtained “intimate knowledge of aircraft test and evaluation, instrumentation, Air Force procedures, and military law as it pertains to chain of command.?“ Courses completed or certifications for example?

        What was your Primary AFSC? You have never said what you did in the Air Force. Did you have a DAFSC? You weren’t OSI were you?

        Here are some of mine. My PAFSC was 9351, but I think the AF changed the numbers in the 90s. I graduated from the Aerospace Medicine Primary course at Brooks AFB. That training and education included not just medical stuff, but flight aerodynamics, flight instruments, fundamentals of weather, accident investigation, safety and so on. Even some on chain of command. I recall that we went over to Randolph to fly (mostly play) with the flight simulators. I am NOT claiming we were taught how to fly in any way. I also graduated from the Crash Survival Investigators School in Tempe, Arizona. Then there was continuing education, training and experience while working as a flight surgeon.

        CB, your credibility is at risk when you continue to make inaccurate (to put it kindly) statements about emergency procedures, flight safety, among other things, which rofcibc just addressed above.

        Comment by Dan Kangley | May 16, 2020

      • I’ll try a different approach. I’ll ask some questions then leave the correct answers at the bottom:

        1. What is a “Red X”?

        2. Who is authorized to direct an aircraft to be flown with a known red X condition?

        3. What symbol would be entered in the aircraft forms over any failure of the landing gear?

        4. Is it sound judgment to continue to fly an aircraft knowing it has a red X condition?

        1. An unsatisfactory condition which warrants grounding of the aircraft.
        2. No one, not even a Wing Level Commander.
        3. Red X.
        4. No.

        Comment by CB | May 16, 2020

      • @ CB

        A red X is entered into the maintenance documents by a mechanic any time An unsafe condition might exist. A pilot would enter a red X into the maintenance documents after landing and note any conditions that the pilot thought were unsatisfactory. All red ax’s are cleared By maintenance prior to flight. This means that the discrepancy is fixed. Therefore an aircraft will never be flown with a red X.

        I personally have downgraded pilot entered red Xs. For example: “ actuator leaking”. I signed it off as “actuator leaking within limits”. This is because the maintenance manual allowed it. Yes, airplanes are allowed to leak.

        About 25 years ago we had an airplane off station with a grounding landing gear problem. Forgive me, It was so long ago I Forgot the exact discrepancy. The wing commander authorized downgrading the red x and the plane was flown back to us with the gear pinned down. Upon landing the x was re entered into the forms. Again the aircraft was never flown with a red x.

        This is all allowed under Air Force regulations.

        I am an aircraft mechanic, and have been for a long time. 20 years on 135s, and now many years on rotorcraft. Lots of commercial experience also.

        I am not a doctor and never claim to be one, or know how to do surgery. I don’t tread into their territory.

        I am not a pilot and don’t clam to be one. By the way I do have 40 hours in a Cessna 152. I know about what pilots do, but can not do it. Only one pilot has ever tried to kill me out of ignorance and bad pilot skills. The rest have been great and some exceptional.

        Comment by Marty K | May 17, 2020

      • Marty K,

        Excellent recap of the dreaded “Red X”.

        In all my years as a Air Force pilot I never personally put a red X, in the aircraft forms. Why? Well I flew airplanes, didn’t “fix” them. If I felt an airplane was unsafe to fly, I would simply not fly it until it was. In essence I got the last vote, period! In SAC there was a maintenance debrief after every flight. Entire crew was there along with the maintenance debrief team. To be honest I didn’t know what their specialties were, and didn’t really care. I left that up to the maintenance folks. Before we landed we called in any “squawks” that we had entered into the aircraft forms, using a code that was provided my maintenance. Pretty good system, worked great, lasted a long time, got the job done.

        When I went through an OJT maintenance officer training class I learned a lot more about the workings of the maintenance side of the house, but other than that, all I wanted was a plane ready to fly when I showed up for a mission. And hopefully one that would allow me to complete the mission and return safely.

        During my 16 years with Delta Air Lines, inflight “squawks” were passed on to flight control via a data link, and when we landed, normally there was no “maintenance debrief”. If I felt I needed to have a face to face I would pass that on to flight control, but that was a rare occurrence. Again, when I showed up to fly, if I felt the aircraft was not safe to fly, it didn’t until I did.

        Comment by rofcibc | May 18, 2020

      • @CB

        I will ask you once again:

        Can you clarify exactly HOW you have obtained

        “intimate knowledge of aircraft test and evaluation, instrumentation, Air Force procedures, and military law as it pertains to chain of command”

        Courses completed or certifications for example? Anything?

        What was your Primary AFSC? You have never said what you did in the Air Force. Did you have a DAFSC?

        Were you even really in the Air Force? Aren’t you proud of your service? My BS warning light is beginning to glow.

        Comment by Dan Kangley | May 17, 2020

      • Always know your aircraft and what systems are critical to safety of flight. If any unsatisfactory condition occurs on a safety of flight system, do the right thing. Operational instructions do not replace Maintenance T.O.s or good judgement. Show good judgement. Land your plane and get it fixed right away. Think of your safety, and your crew’s safety, and their family members. Don’t become part of this list.

        Comment by CB | May 23, 2020

      • This particular crash was not in any way, shape, nor form caused by any system on the airplane.

        “Land your airplane and get it fixed right away.”


        Comment by rofcibc | May 23, 2020

  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

      • At Russ Adams, Who is Jim, I’m interested to know, if it was Capt. James B. Henry, if so he is my father who was killed that day. I realize that I post this some 2 years after you but I hope to find out more about the guys he served with.

        Comment by Andrew | May 13, 2015

      • Andrew| James Egan (Jim) was another PUP (pilot up upgraid) I was on his first crew @ McConnell AFB 91st AR sq. He was standing behind the BO seat when it happend. The two crewmembers that were killed was the up graiding pilot in the left seat and a instructor NAV.who was along for time. He was staff member along for time to get his flight pay.They found him at the cargo door.

        Comment by RUSS (robert T adams III) | May 14, 2015

      • Thanks for letting me know it wasn’t my father you were talking about. My father was the instructor NAV on that flight, but the crew was listed under the number 12 heading for this forum. I appreciate the response.

        Comment by Andrew | May 15, 2015

    • My former co-pilot was doing her Pilot in Command upgrade with that crew on this aircraft. I can’t remember her name any longer (probably blocked out) but she was in the IP seat while the IP sat in the left seat and the copilot flew the approach. From the reports / briefing we got, the last words from the crew was her contacting the tower saying something like, “and tower…..” so I am betting she was about to declare an emergency, request fire support, and probably about to request visual to a full stop when plane started to stall and she got off the radio to say something…sadly, the IP and co were too involved in the fire to remember the words we see at the start of every emergency in the -1 of the Tanker Flight Manual…”STOP – THINK – FLY THE AIRCRAFT!”

      Comment by KC-135_IBO | December 29, 2013 | Reply

      • Her name was Capt. Susan O. Scott (no relation to me). I was part of the investigation team for that accident, so I heard the tower tape. The emergency had already been declared by the IP. The last words on the tape, spoken by Capt. Scott, were something to the effect of, “We’ll need the equipment.” What struck the members of the SIB as we listened to the tape was she couldn’t have been more cool and collected as she said those words. Based on timing calculations coordinated with photos of the aircraft, she said those words when it was in about 90 degrees of bank and 60 degrees nose low (as a photo showed), just about to impact the terrain. Cool as ice in a terrifying situation, an attribute all pilots would like to think we have.

        Comment by Gary Scott | January 25, 2020

      • I would appreciate any assistance in contacting Captain Barker (1976 through 1980)  of the 305th ARW at Grissom AFB. Thank you!

        Chris and/or Diane Chapman

        Comment by Dianna Chapman | January 25, 2020

  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 the Boston area. 61-301 T.D.Y. from Westover to Kadena. Had two of my roomates on board as ground crew at Kadena, Robert Dudeck of Ipswich Mass. and Robert Goyette of Adams Mass.? (Western Mass.). I was also ground crew on 301 in Kadena. I missed that flight!

      Comment by Rich Leahy | April 23, 2013 | 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

      • Hi Rich, you say you knew some of the crew on KC-135a 61-0301 that crashed into the mountains at 7300′ on way to CCK.
        My brother was on that flight. He was a pilot but not on that flight. His name was James J. Hayes (Lt. USAF). He was 23. He was on TDY at Kadena air base. Got there in July. Dating a girl Pegi Solikof.
        He had told my parents, my dad was Col. James J Hayes & had just retired from Base Commandervat Dover AFB. We had just moved to Miami. My brother as all of us had lived in NJ but just prior to his TDY he was stationed at Columbus AFB, Miss. And just before that Moody AFB near Valdosta, GA.
        I was only 7. I just got a letter today for the first time in 46 yrs from his gal at the time.which gave me more info so I could even find this!
        Did you possibly know my brother? Or facts re crash. I was going to say he had written my parents letters saying lots of the guys were reporting a lot of issues with refuelers, etc. said some were pretty bad. I heard the pilot was a fine pilot & it was suspect by those who knew him that there wasn’t something else that went wrong. Anything at all that you know or could share would be appreciated. Where do you live? Are you about his age? He would be 69. Where is Westover? Thank you so much. I hope to hear from you.

        Comment by Catherine Hayes Janis | June 4, 2014

      • Rich, I have been searching for the crew names of 0301. I was part of the ground crew TDY to Kadena in 68 at the time of the crash. I knew both Bob Dudeck and Bob Goyette. I’ve also been looking for other crew chiefs who were stationed at Westover FROM 66 -69

        Comment by Dennis Ducharme | July 7, 2014

    • 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

      • SSgt Goyette’s name was Robert T. Goyette, not Raymond. He was 23 yrs old, not 53. And, he was from Adams, MA not Chicopee, MA. He was from my home town so I thought I would make the corrections. You can look up Robert T. Goyette in the Adams, MA war dead records. Our town honors Robert and all other Adams, MA war dead at Memorial Day services, coming up very soon.

        Comment by Sandyjeanie | May 2, 2015

      • I graduated from UPT class 68-C from Reese AFB in Lubbuck, TX, and flew KCs for the 7th ARS, Carswell AFB. I remember being told a classmate died (a CO) in a KC the crash on T.O. from Utapo AB. They said engine parts were strewn down the runway and they crashed in the jungle before water ran out a mile or so away.. I can’t recall his name but I know it wasn’t Mark White. Was there a similar crash about the same time from Utapo AB? .

        Comment by Michael Hickey | March 9, 2018

      • Hard to tell what accident is being discussed without a date of the accident. When was it? Where was it?

        Comment by Jon Mickley | March 9, 2018

      • Mike I have all the names of airmen on that aircraft when it crashed on U-Tapao on Oct. 02, 1968. I witnessed the accident. Out of town at present, but can get info back to you when I get home.

        Comment by William Bever | March 12, 2018

      • The crew was:

        Major Dean L. Beach, Pilot
        1st Lt Richard M. Welch, Co-Pilot
        1st Lt Robert C. Profilet , Navigator
        TSgt Earl B. Estep, Boom Operator

        All their names are on the Vietnam Memorial.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | March 12, 2018

      • John, I need your email address as I have information that the crash of Oct. 02, 1968 was sabatoge.

        Comment by William Bever | March 14, 2018

      • OK, I’ll bite. Never heard this. If true, you should post it publicly so that it can be properly vetted for accuracy and veracity. If not, then dreck like this serves only to hurt those already affected by this tragic loss.

        Comment by Robert Hopkins | March 14, 2018

      • I not only witnessed this crash, but done enough research to make the a open minded man understand why this plane crashed.

        Comment by William Bever | March 14, 2018

      • Then please post it.

        Comment by Robert Hopkins | March 14, 2018

      • Too much information. Give me your email address and I can give you more details. Some information too sensitive to post in the open.

        Comment by William Bever | March 14, 2018

      • Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. If it’s too sensitive to post then it’s suspect. If you can’t summarize it in a paragraph then it’s too convoluted.

        There are people on this forum with thousands of hours flying every variant of ‘135, decades of maintaining and repairing them, and years participating in accident investigation boards.

        These are the people you must convince, and hiding behind claims of “too long” and “too sensitive” reeks of conspiracy theory. All you’re doing here is opening old wounds with false claims of an explanation that have not shown to be true.

        Comment by Robert Hopkins | March 14, 2018

      • What was your reference point? i.e how close to the point where the aircraft hit the approach lights? Are you a pilot? Just trying to get an idea where you’re coming from.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | March 15, 2018

      • Copilot, Richard Welch’s wife and I have communicated for years. I witnessed this crash on Oct. 02, 1968. I was a Security Policeman watching call sign: Peach Anchor 53. take off and crash. Mrs. Welch never remarried so I was able to find out she lived in Iowa. George Collins an Aircraft Electrician, was called to KC-135, tail 55-3138. George spoke with the crew chief. The CC showed George the forms with the complaint that had been entered by both the pilot and copilot. George inspected the nose gear and noticed a leak from the badly scratched and gouged surface of the gear strut cylinder. After George’s findings he put a RED X on the forms grounding the aircraft. The CC called out shop technicians to look at the nose gear. They also signed their RED X on the forms as this KC would need a new nose gear because the nose gear had jammed in the over extended nose up position.

        George Collins was berated by his shop chief. The shop chief told George to sign off the Red X he had put on the forms as well as the other technicians.

        The bottom line was that the commander wanted all his aircraft to fly and under no circumstances would this specific KC not be grounded. I could go on and on, but this commander sent these 4 brave men to their deaths. I have to much more information but will stop here to give you an idea of what took place..

        Comment by William Bever | March 15, 2018

      • Thank you. If what you say is true then it might be malfeasance or even incompetence, but nothing in what you’ve related remotely resembles sabotage.

        Comment by Robert Hopkins | March 15, 2018

      • Yeah, uh huh, right….you post it here and then we all cant talk about it. As for my email….will send it about the time pigs fly outta my ass!

        Comment by Jon Mickley | March 14, 2018

      • Michael Hickey…..

        It appears there are two different KC135 accidents here. One took place on takeoff at Utapao. October 2, 1968. (55-3138). The other one was one that took off for CCK on the 22nd.(61-0301) The crew names listed are for the CCK flight that crashed.

        If you’re talking about the crash on October 2, 1968, that is the one I witnessed. Seem to remember the A/C was Maj Dean Beach…but don’t know who the rest of the crew was.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | March 9, 2018

    • 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

    • My brother was killed on Oct 22, 1968 in a KC 135 that was flying from Kadena Air Base TO CCK. He was a pilot but on that flight a co-pilot. His name was Lt. James J Hayes (JJ ). We were told they crashed into the mountains. Near Sun Moon Lake. It took them 5 days to get to site. Nothing left for all intents and purposes. They never gave a reason. But my 23 yr old brother who was on TDY over there wrote us letters saying they were having a lot of problems with the KC 135’s & guys were pretty upset. He had just gotten over there in July. I was 7 yrs old. We had just moved to Miami’ as my father had just retired. We had just moved from Dover AFB where he was base commander. Col James J Hayes. Also had been at Scott AFB IL. & Maguire AFB & many others. I was outside the day the blue squad car drove up. Not living on base anymore I was happy to see that familiar sight, not for long. My mom & were putting up Halloween decorations when they came. It changed my family for life. If anyone knew Jimmy or JJ or Jim as he was called please please please respond.

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

    • Hi Harry, please read my replys re your question about the crew on kc135 61-0301. My brother Lt James J Hayes (JJ or Jim to most) was killed in that crash. I am his youngest sister. He was on TDY at Kadena. I posted several spots on here. I would love to hear from you. Please see the post I put in response to Rich. I send you the same as well. Thanks Cathy

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

    • 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

      • Aircraft. 55-3138 was the lead the fleet at Warner Robins. I had friends that went
        To Utapao with it as crew chief.

        Comment by Earl r Wells | January 16, 2018

      • Christopher John Brown Hoctor…..there was a mission flown from Utpao called “FLS”, which stood for Force Logistics Support, and which the crews called Fast Letter Service. In was flown from Utapao, to Guam, to CCK and back to Utapao, or the reverse Utapao, CCK, Guam and back to Utapao.. Was simply a flight to move stuff and people from one base to the next. Since all three bases had SAC contingents operating out of, rather than get MAC support, SAC simply used one of the KC135s from Utapao, and a Young Tiger crew. Each crew that flew a 60 day Young Tiger rotation, flew one. I could see were one would say it was not “war support” since it did not refuel any aircraft that were flying combat missions.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | March 14, 2018

    • Do you remember George Collins who put his Red X on KC-135 55-3138 on that tragic day, Oct. 02, 1968?

      Comment by William D. Bever | July 1, 2016 | Reply

      • A “Red X”….what exactly was that for? No pilot EVER would fly an airplane on a “Red X”. Just trying to make a connection with your “assertion” (unsubstantiated) and what took place that day.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | July 3, 2016

      • I worked as a civilian contractor working on AF Aircraft and we had an acft with major Fuel Quantity problems that flew over several weeks on a red x. We refused to sign the er’ for the flights and the pilots signed their own er’s until the plane eventually went to depot and every f/q component and associated wiring was replaced on all 5 tanks. (Not a -135). Acft later destroyed on landing accident in Illinois.

        Comment by George H. | September 4, 2017

      • “The CC showed George the forms with the complaint that had been entered by both the pilot and copilot.”

        Which pilot and copilot? The crew about to fly the airplane? The last crew to fly it? If the latter that write up would have been cleared and annotated in the 781. Personally I don’t remember ever having both pilots make a write-up in the forms. What specifically did that “write-up” say?

        “George inspected the nose gear and noticed a leak from the badly scratched and gouged surface of the gear strut cylinder. After George’s findings he put a RED X on the forms grounding the aircraft.”

        Electrician inspects nose gear, puts aircraft on Red X. Hmmmm…..

        “The CC called out shop technicians to look at the nose gear. They also signed their RED X on the forms as this KC would need a new nose gear because the nose gear had jammed in the over extended nose up position”.

        Now we have two Red X’s? If the nose gear was jammed in the over extended nose up positon (I assume you mean fully extended) there is no way that aircraft would have ever been scheduled for a flight. Especially needing a new nose gear.

        “George Collins was berated by his shop chief. The shop chief told George to sign off the Red X he had put on the forms as well as the other technicians.”
        Electrical technicians don’t normally sign off and take an airplane off a Red X, or in this case (according to you) multiple Red Xs!

        “The bottom line was that the commander wanted all his aircraft to fly and under no circumstances would this specific KC not be grounded.”

        I assume you mean the Wing Commander as opposed to Aircraft Commander by “…the commander…” But no aircraft commander is going to take an airplane with a fully extended and jammed nose gear, so what the “…commander..” you speak of was a moot point.

        Now to some FACTS (remember I was in the #2 airplane and on the runway watching the accident aircraft take off) It appeared to accelerate normally down the runway, then swerve to the right, and then exploded. Due to it being a wet takeoff, the smoke made it difficult to get a good look at the airplane as it rotated and tried to take off.

        In the final analysis, it lost the #4 engine. At that time the procedure was to keep your hand on the nose wheel steering until “rotation”. It appears the AC tried to steer the airplane back to the centerline, and began scrubbing the nose gear tires, one of which failed. The extra drag kept the airplane from accelerating and when it rotated it settled back down, striking the approach light system on the North end of the runway. Hitting the light stanchions, which were steel I beams downed the aircraft and it exploded and burned.

        Ironically had he been taking off to the South, he might have made it, since there were no approach lights due to the proximity of the end of the runway to the water.
        “ I could go on and on, but this commander sent these 4 brave men to their deaths. I have to much more information but will stop here to give you an idea of what took place..”

        Little over dramatic. The chain of events started with the engine failure, coupled with a nose gear failure (may have been both…don’t remember for sure) and associated drag, and lastly striking the approach light stanchions.

        As the emergency vehicles responded we taxied down the runway and cleared it, went back up the parallel taxiway and waited for the runway to be cleared and then took off. Think we shut down while waiting. Didn’t get a good view of the crash site as it was pretty close to the runway and we were pretty busy making our own takeoff.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | March 15, 2018

      • Who was the crew chief and who launched the aircraft? I am asking because I was at Robins at this time. I new the crew chief and he talked to me about it but I can’t recall his name

        Comment by Earl r Wells | March 22, 2018

      • “Who was the crew chief and who launched the aircraft? I am asking because I was at Robins at this time. I new the crew chief and he talked to me about it but I can’t recall his name” (Earl r Wells)

        No crew chief ever “launched” and airplane. They prepared it for the flight crew. The flight crew either accepted the airplane as airworthy and flew the mission, which includes the “launch” aka “takeoff”, or they rejected the airplane for whatever reason and nobody “launched” or “took off”. The ultimate decision rested with the Aircraft Commander.

        I’ve heard a lot of “crap” for lack of a better word on this crash, which I personally observed from the cockpit of the plane that was #2 in cell, and was on the runway, waiting for the prescribed interval to start our takeoff, when we were told to “hold” by the tower and shortly thereafter saw the smoke from the crash, while still sitting on the runway, ready to launch ourselves.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | March 27, 2018

      • Sir I am sorry sir. I should have said pre flight. I was just trying to learn the name of an old friend. I guess you know more about this accident than anybody else. I know nothing about it except that the aircraft was from Robins and the crew chief was also from Robins and he and I had talked about it. I am sorry to have offended you sir. I would never have talked down to you by the way. Former crew chief E. R. Wells

        Comment by Earl r Wells | March 27, 2018

      • No problem. That particular accident was the first one I ever saw, up close and personal, and was one of the first missions I flew at UTapao after getting on a crew and actually flying real missions. The last one I saw, again up close and personal was the KC10 that blew up on the ramp at Barksdale in 1987, killing a young maintenance troop. I was the Squadron Commander and actually taxied a plane that was behind the burning one away from the fire.

        Can’t believe it was 50 years ago this month when I became a “mission ready copilot” in the KC135 and started pulling alert!

        You mentioned Robins, I was there from 1970 to 1973, and flew my first Young Tiger mission as an aircraft commander in October 1971 just 3 years after this accident happened.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | March 27, 2018

    • I was there also and witnessed the crash. The co-pilot, Richard Welch waved to me before take off and crash.

      Comment by WILLIAM BEVER | February 22, 2019 | Reply

  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

      • Steve, saw this reply of yours to Major Manning’s son. Your telling of the particulars is absolutely correct. I was in Stan/Eval with both a Manning and Seckman. But, I, too, had already left Eielson when the 121 crash occurred. Jeff Turner told me about it when he arrived in England on the aircraft slated to take me home. As you stated, it was only used as a trainer for pilots and navigators, with the backend completely clear of equipment. It was used to fly folks to and from Shemya, and it was the aircraft that finally took me off the Rock. Stripped down, it took off like a scalded dog.

        Comment by Dr. K.A. Crooks | May 13, 2020

    • 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

    • To Andy Anderson and Dr. Watson, If I knew another way to contact you I would. I am the widow of 1st Lt. John M. Bristow,(Mike) Co-Pilot of KC-135 – 63-7983. I would like to take a moment to thank you personally, almost 31 years after that fateful day, I still remember the kindnesses you two offered to me during my difficult journey, you made my burden lighter, thank you.

      I would also like to confirm, as a first hand witness to the testimonies these two gentlemen have given here in this public forum, that at the time the AF was, in fact shortcutting training times. I say this with no ill will or grudge against the AF, in fact, my 26 year old son, today is serving in Operation Inherent Resolve as a navigator on a B-52 (an aircraft older than the KC-135 we are talking about on this forum). In the year my husband was at Grissom, was often not given actual flying sorties, instead he was just given enough take off and landings to keep him qualified to sit on alert again. Therefore, he was flying the T-37 (mentioned in this thread) as a way to accrue hours and develop flying skills since he wasn’t getting them in the KC-135.

      As far as the crews experience flying night sorties in Panama, this is what my husband told me. The crew flew into Howard AFB during the near evening with the a/c flying the landing. The crew was there to refuel aircraft for a 30 day TDY rotation, most refueling missions were needed at night (I surmised they were refueling recon flights during Central American civil “unrest”). During their time there, they were not the only crew down there, they would take turns with at least one crew flying a mission and one being back up. In the time this crew was at Howard they had only flown approx. 2 other missions – for a number of different reasons. This accident occurred 2 days before they were due to return to Grissom. This means my husband had landed a max of 1 landing prior to the 17th of June if they were taking turns, and the a/c had a max of 2 landings (only 1 of which was at night).

      I have never heard the information before which you cite from a Post-Accident simulation … “The runway was down-sloping 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?”

      I have read every word the accident report given to me, and it is clear, the tower was repeatedly telling the crew they were off glide slope, too high, too low, too high, etc…. The crew failed to recognize the position they were in. An AF pilot explained it this way, the runway was shorter (approx. 8500ft) than their home runway (approx.12,000ft) creating the optical illusion they were higher than they though they were, thus they never flared. They thought they still had time to pull out a good landing and never realized the danger they were in. They were still thinking they were much higher than they were actually at. They thought they needed to lose altitude, because the shorter runway which had no center lighting, made it look like they were still way too high. They cut back power when they should have gone around because at that point if what they were thinking was true they were going to land really long on a short runway. But they did not. Instead, they did strike the runway extremely hard. It was the inboard engine #3 that fell off. They would have been better off to stay on the ground and get out of that plane if they could have. They did do their best to save the lives of many, once they decided to go around (whether by instinct or wrote emergency procedures engrained through training), they did a phenomenal job of getting that aircraft off the ground and out of the flight path of the base housing and populated areas. I was given a set of notes from family members in base housing at Howard AFB thanking the crew of 63-7983 for sparing their lives and recognizing their sacrifice.

      I don’t know if the AF pilots explanation is true or not,… what I do know for sure is this crew was back-up for the night and had already been dismissed. They were recalled after their dismissal, outside of protocol. They flew their mission. They had been in Panama for 28 days. They were due home in 2 days. They were not the original crew assigned to travel to Panama. The a/c and the navigator were traded out from the original assigned crew. My husband was uncomfortable with the decision to pair up a newly upgraded a/c and himself to go on this assignment (knowing how poorly his flight training was being handled) together to a foreign country when the a/c had never been there even as a c/p, especially when there were other a/c available to go. He felt it was a poor leadership decision to pair this crew together and was not a wise decision.

      I am sure the a/c Capt. Tom McDerby was an awesome man, as attested to on this forum and has been missed. I know he was loved and respected by many, as well as 1st Lt Wayne Ching and SSgt. Quinn L Dewitt. To SSgt’s children, if you are ever to read this, may I say, my husband, and the regular crew he served with, respected your father and thought he was a fantastic boom operator. He served his country with excellence. And on a personal level the much loved 1Lt Mike Bristow, his early passing left a hole in the hearts of his parents a mile wide, and a mile deep in mine. I say a mile wide in theirs because they hardly knew how to take another step in life without running into the pain of losing Mike, but they learned that he was with his savior and would one day join him through His Amazing Grace. And I say a mile deep in mine because I keep Mike and the years I had with him as a guiding force in my life to bless others and often think of, “How would Mike want me to do this or that, and can I make him proud in the way I choose to live my life?” not in an idol-istic way, but a guiding way, because he was a good man, worthy of modeling my life after.

      Once again, Thank You to all who helped me make it through a tough and trying time in my life, may God Bless You and the USA. Mylinda Bristow Lyons

      Comment by Mylinda Bristow Lyons | March 30, 2017 | Reply

      • Mylinda Bristow Lyons , My heart and prayers still go out to you and the families of the other brave men.

        Comment by AndyAnderson | March 31, 2017

      • My heart is heavy now as I write this response to your post, I have to admit I am a bit shaky. Let me first begin with my sympathy and heart felt empathy at the loss of your husband . My brother Tom, was the a/c, Captain Tom McDerby that you refer to in your letter, I want you to know that yes, Tom was an “awesome man and he is missed” everyday. He was an extremely talented and experienced pilot in the USAF. I was told a similar, but slightly different accounting of the tragic accident on 17 June 1986. I am so very glad to hear that you do not have any ” ill will or grudge against the Air Force” I do hope with all of my heart that you also have no grudge or ill will towards any of the brave, selfless men on that mission. My parents were forever changed by the loss of their son, as was I . There will forever be a whole in my heart, that will never be filled. To lose someone at such a young age is something that is quite hard to wrap your head around. The manner in which your young husband, my brother and the brave crew of the KC-135 gave there lives will forever be a sadness that will not easily be quelled.

        Comment by Patricia McDerby | April 1, 2017

      • Hello Mylinda. It was wonderful to hear from you. The fact that you certainly know the Lord as your savior after all of these years is a blessing!

        I am and never have been an Air Force pilot. I have about 730 hours as an instrument/multi-engine/commercial land pilot. I certainly would not presume to either read the minds of your husband or Captain McDerby. I would also not presume to be capable to instructing anyone on commercial aircraft operation. I will tell you my thoughts about this accident and I would certainly be pleased if Captain Don Upp or another tanker pilot critiqued my thoughts.

        The landing of any heavy aircraft (commercial/military/multi-engine) is predicated on a stable approach as far as the localizer and glideslope with the latter typically being 3 degrees. Pilots of all aircraft are taught that if the approach is not stable and they are not on or near to the glidescope (as indicated by instruments in the aircraft or the VASI lights on the approach end of the runway) that they should go around. For a heavy aircraft such as a KC-135 and having four marginally adequate engines at best, this principle would be even more important. If the approach results in swings above and below the glideslope, especially on short final, the approach is ended and a go-around initiated. This technique would have been even more important in your husband’s aircraft approach to the Howard A.F.B. field as it was relatively short (8,500 feet), it did have (I read) a minimal downslope of 0.4% (I believe that fact was mentioned in the debriefing of the wing at Grissom after the accident), the landing was at night, both pilots were relatively inexperienced total time in their crew position with minimal experience at the local airport. With these considerations in mind, the debriefing stated something to the effect that the aircraft was near to/over the approach end of the runway but still at 200 feet of altitude above the field. I would think that all of the factors I listed above would lower the threshold where upon the pilot flying would abort the landing and go around. When the pilot went to flight idle, it does not seem to make sense if he truly thought he was high because continuing flight long enough to descend from “high” would result in a long landing/short remaining runway. No decent pilot much less a USAF tanker pilot with a sluggish-handling aircraft would typically commit himself to a landing under these circumstances. The more rational (at least in my uneducated mind) scenario was that in the darkness, neither pilot was able to clearly ascertain their height above the ground and the pilot flying (Captain McDerby) was appropriately flying eyes-out looking at the runway and not reading his instruments for ground proximity. The illusion (or simply not being able to adequately judge the aircraft height above ground in the dark of this short runway) was that they were at the height to flare and pull the throttles back to flight idle–obviously performed somewhere in the 15-25 foot range, I presume. Unfortunately, they were not at that height and it was that mistake that the aircraft investigation board clearly stated that they only had a couple of seconds to correct the power situation before the aircraft was doomed to hit the ground at a high rate of acceleration. The resultant impact did tear loose the inboard engine (less movement of the wing to absorb the acceleration than the outboard engine), ripped out the hydraulics leaving the aircraft with 40? degrees of flaps and a problem of low speed and dutch roll on climb out from which they were not able to recover.

        My personal (again, uneducated, free advice worth nothing) thoughts are that Captain McDerby, your husband and the other two crew members, were inadvertently sent to their deaths by USAF economics that dictated that flying hours be curtailed, poor supervision by the squadron or wing by pairing a new co-pilot with a recently up-graded aircraft commander and minimal training or supervision by a flight instructor or at least more experienced captain upon arrival to and during your husband’s TDY to Howard AFB. None of these issues occurred by design. They certainly played out in real life, however.

        I would love to hear from you. I was honored and humbled to be able to visit your home with your parents to interview you after the accident. I could never understand the impact that the loss of your husband was to you and to his parents. I sense that God has been there for you across the years. When we get to the very bottom with nothing left and the end of ourselves, we find the hands of God underneath us to lift us up. My cell number is 937-405-8087 should you ever desire to talk. May God continue to richly bless you.

        Comment by Stephen David Watson | April 3, 2017

  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

      • For the life of me I don’t remember that flight. I do remember doing EFTOC’s as I spend five years at Castle, and was there when we started them. Since we had four former Castle IP’s (Jim Bronowski, Buster Dell, Dave Stanley and me) at Grissom when we started the unit, we did them there since we were technically a CCTS.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | November 26, 2013

      • “BoomerGasPasser”…since you mentioned me in your post (albeit misspelled my name) I am here to categorically deny that event ever took place with me in the seat of a KC135, as I never, ever, allowed anyone who (a) was not qualified in the KC135 (b) undergoing qualification and (c) not a USAF pilot to ever occupy a pilot’s seat, or physically control the airplane in any way.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | July 11, 2016

    • 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

    • Dan Kingley, been doing some research on this accident and got a SIB from Kirtland. It’s pretty much devoid of the details you posted, but does have images, and diagrams of various parts of the aircraft as it left the runway and came apart.

      Where did you find the narrative you posted?

      Comment by rofcibc | May 16, 2020 | Reply

      • rofcibc

        In early January 1980, I requested the accident report from HQ Air Force Inspection and Safety Center, Norton AFB. Col. William Belk, MC, Chief, Life Sciences Division, Directorate of Aerospace Safety, sent it to me at my request. I assume that the technical parts of the report are complete and un-redacted. The documents included a final summary as well, so I used all this to put together the above summary for a future flight safety briefing. I also received the Life Sciences Reports on the crew and the autopsy reports, but obviously those were not pertinent or appropriate to this discussion. My purpose was to evaluate the cause of the accident and more importantly the survivability of the crash. Maybe Jon Mickley who posted above has a complete report.

        Comment by Dan Kangley | May 16, 2020

      • Dan Kangley, I am Jon Mickley, I now use my WordPress account as rofcibc. The diagram I had was the result of Boeing analysis I got a copy of right after the accident as I made a briefing for the pilots in our squadron at Grissom. I believe that was when it became known that Boeing knew of the “stalling” of the vertical stabilizer. Cannot remember who exactly it came from. It was earlier this year I got the SIB and it was missing details such as the witness observations you quoted. It made NO mention that the EFTOC maneuver was being accomplished, although it was pretty obvious that was what took place.

        Comment by rofcibc | May 16, 2020

      • Jon,

        I got a copy of the crash diagram as well and used it with other info to determine crash forces for my own educational purposes. As I look at those notes, there is a lot of math! All I have are my notes used for the summary I posted above, and some medical notes. I used the accident report and summary that came with it as the primary sources for details to the best of my recollection. I could have received other information from one of the squadrons since the crash was of great interest at the time. Except for the crash diagram and my notes, I do not have any of the original documents, so I can’t review for accuracy. I don’t recall anything blacked out or redacted on the reports though, and I thought it was complete at the time. Why would the SIC not mention the EFTOC. Seems to be a critical part of the entire catastrophe. Plus Boeing did not do it the same way the AF did according to my notes. I do not have any reports that may have been distributed to squadrons about the accident cause and changes in procedures/training, but I assume some notice was given. Don’t do this and stop doing that.

        Comment by Dan Kangley | May 16, 2020

      • Dan,

        The USAF Mishap Report I received, (AF Form 711) in block 11 “Factual Summary of Circumstances” says,

        “After the second and final visual pattern, during the takeoff phase of a touch and go, the number one engine contacted the runway. The aircraft departed the runway on the left side, resulting in breakup and fire.”

        THAT’S IT…nothing more….YGBTSM!

        I was the Castle CCTS Training Flight IP, which was set up to check out new IPs in the CCTS environment where they had to deal with pilots who had never been in a 135, and in many cases didn’t have much time. I was there ’73 to ’78 so I left a year before the accident.

        I was a part of the “testing” for lack of a better word, of the EFTOC procedures. CEVG did a “testing” program too. I can’t say exactly how many of those I did, but it’s in the hundreds, and came up with some of the pitfalls, the biggest being using the “wrong” rudder. The key was to “look outside and fly the airplane”, which nowadays is easy to do in the simulator, but back then we didn’t have any “flight simulator” but “cockpit procedures trainers.

        In the simulator the recognition was the heading change, which if you did that in the airplane with an actual engine loss, you would run off the runway before you could take proper corrective action.

        I came up with several ways to prevent the “wrong rudder” by the student, among them, having my foot firmly on the wrong one, ready to react to any movement and counter it. One other thing was I kept my hand on the rudder power cutoff switch, figuring it would be harder to input rudder, even if for a short time, to give me the opportunity to verbally convey “wrong rudder” or “get off the rudder” or something like that.

        Thankfully I never had to resort to that with a student or newly assigned IP.

        Without a FDR or CVR there is NO positive way to determine what took place.

        I saw in your summary about witnesses seeing the rudder deflected, but that is nowhere in the accident report, and I find that somewhat improbable as it would have to have been a person close to the runway and with a basic knowledge of what was happening and what to look for. Face it, touch & go’s at Castle each day were numbered in the hundreds. To see the single one that resulted in the accident would have beyond almost statistical probability.

        There is a “debris” map in the report I have and it is incredible how much destruction was done in such a short time and distance, plus how far the fuselage went, and how much it had turned when it came to a stop and the two survivors got out

        Comment by rofcibc | May 16, 2020

      • Jon

        As I try to reconstruct my memory now from 40 years ago, I cannot say what form(s) I received about this accident. I am positive I got the individual 711g Life Sciences Report, which were the ones I had the most interest in. There were individual autopsy reports included, but I do not know if they were usually a part of the overall accident report per se. I don’t think so, but may be wrong. The 711g would have given a summary of injuries and any medical analysis that contributed to death, injury, survivability or contributed to causing the accident. It was the classic number and block looking military form. I remember that distinctly. But now, I am pretty sure the “accident report” sent to me did not look like that at all, and was more like the old teletype printouts. I remember it was a rather faint photo copy, but readable, and had a LOT of detail, analysis, conclusions, etc. Maybe 10 pages or more? Definitely more than just a couple. But the format was not like the 711g. What I did get, gave all the information I was asking for regarding accident cause and medical ramifications.

        The wrong rudder input as well as the disconnect from the procedure trainers vs what a pilot would see in the aircraft in real life was big in this incident. The delay inherent using a procedure trainer to recognize which engine failed could be and was fatal here, if the wrong decision was made. I found the timing analysis of an incorrect rudder deflection and time needed to correct to be chilling. With normal human reaction time added, the odds of avoiding a disaster were very low. Your preventative solutions are so interesting in a situation where margin of error is very small.

        As far as witnesses. I would think they were on the ramp or somewhere close, but cannot say for sure now without reviewing the documents. I don’t know how Castle was set up. It seems the investigators felt the witnessed were reliable, and had knowledge of 135 control surfaces, to include it in the report, and that what they saw was important.

        I agree that the crash map is eye opening, and so helpful visually explaining the accident sequence. The two guys in back were so very lucky, and who can really appreciate the emotional turmoil they suffered and probably still do.

        Comment by Dan Kangley | May 17, 2020

      • I may be completely out of line but an impression I have got from reading accident reports is that unless the aircraft is on fire or falling out of the sky, the best thing to do quite often is nothing for a few seconds.

        One specific example: The NTSB said the vertical stabilizer was torn off in flight as a result of aerodynamic loads that were created by the first officer’s unnecessary and excessive rudder pedal inputs after the aircraft encountered wake turbulence from a Japan Air Lines Boeing 747-400 that had taken off minutes before it. Investigators said the A300 would have passed through the wake turbulence successfully if the pilots had done nothing with the rudder.

        Comment by Kip Vold | May 17, 2020

      • Kip Vold,

        The “urgency” of actions depends on two primary things. Airspeed and altitude. Goes back to an old adage about “running out of airspeed, altitude and ideas all at the same time.” I would teach my students, many of who were new to large multi engine aircraft to, when an engine fails, “wind the clock” (back when airplanes actually had clock that needed winding) I would point out that on a KC135 if you had to shutdown an engine you had a one in four chance of getting the correct one and a three in four chance of getting a wrong one! So pause and “wind the clock”.

        There was a 737 accident in the UK where the crew shut down the wrong and only operating engine resulting in a crash as opposed to a single engine recovery.

        Loss of an outboard engine on a 135 during takeoff, and past S1 speed was the most serious event a pilot could have to deal with. The 135A was not known for massive amounts of thrust, while at the same time trying to lift off massive amounts of fuel. Time was of the essence. In one case the wrong rudder was used and the airplane ran off the runway and was destroyed. In another excessive nose wheel steering input cause the nose gear tires to blow out, an the ensuing drag prevented sufficient airspeed and an attempt was made to get airborne, which was unsuccessful and a crash ensued killing all on board.

        I have a picture hanging on my wall of an old WWII airplane that has crashed into a tree. The caption says, “Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous. But t an even greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of an carelessness, incapacity or neglect”!

        I managed to complete a successful 40 year career in the USAF and Delta Air Lines, The “success” was when on my last flight, my last landing I could look back in my logbook from my first solo abe able to see that my number of takeoffs and landings were equal!

        Comment by rofcibc | May 17, 2020

      • Jon, it appears Dr. Kangley received the “twixt” version of the accident report that invariably was distributed to all units when the AIB was released. What struck me in the twixt version is something we discussed speculatively elsewhere before this information was available to us. I mentioned to you in one of our exchanges that one of the pilot tendencies that had to be guarded against during EFTOC training (and also in an actual engine failure on the runway), was a tendency for some pilots, at the moment of simulated engine failure, to try to rotate the airplane. It seems to me from the narrative that this was one of the responses the student pilot flying the airplane in this instance resorted to. Had the nosewheel remained on the ground as full INCORRECT rudder was applied, the availability of nosewheel steering would have at least given the IP a fighting chance at some level of control to mitigate the level of catastrophe. Unfortunately, with the nose in the air that close to inflight minimum control speed and full INCORRECT rudder having been applied, in this instance there was no chance. Of course, it’s just my opinion, and with the only likelihood for something like this to happen again being an actual engine failure on the runway, the importance of maintaining nosewheel contact with the runway until control is stabilized was insufficiently emphasized. To me, the two most important errors to guard against during those training events were improper rudder application and rotation too early (before the aircraft was going straight and/or had sufficient speed). It would be enlightening to see that twixt again, wouldn’t it?

        Comment by Gary Scott | May 17, 2020

      • Gary, absolutely. Better yet would have been FDR and CVR, but alas that came too late. I remember that discussion and agree that tendency to “get airborne” might be present.

        Comment by rofcibc | May 17, 2020

      • Gary, thanks for explaining what I received. The more I racked my brain about the accident report sent to me from Norton, the more I came to the conclusion that it was not the formal 711 document. I just accepted it as the information I had requested; what caused the crash. As it was the only fatal crash of a tanker since I had gone on active duty, and because of my previous attendance at the Crash Survival Investigators Course, I wanted details about what happened. My selfish reason was, what would have happened to me if I had been on that flight? And the answer was: very bad if I had been on the flight deck or forward part of the cabin, and MAYBE ok in the back.

        Please educate me about the “twixt” – sounds like a candy bar. Would copies exist and if so where?

        Comment by Dan Kangley | May 17, 2020

      • Dan,

        “twixt” is a name that goes back to when messages were basically a telletype. Piece of yellow paper with information printed on it. None of this fancy phone messaging.

        Comment by rofcibc | May 18, 2020

      • Jon,
        Yeah, it got where I wanted it to, but the formatting of this system isn’t very compatible with what I thought was my fairly logical brain.

        Comment by Gary Scott | May 18, 2020

    • Dan, I’ll spell it correctly this time. The “TWX” (thus the evolution of “twixt”) system was a military communication method using teletypewriter messages. It was in common usage through the end of my AF career (I retired in early 1989). I would bet very heavily that it is no longer in use. It was very common for the findings of Class A accident investigations to be transmitted to all appropriate units by TWX, and they were usually very thorough summaries of the results. They would come out of the machine on what looked like 8″X10″ computer paper (very thin) sheets attached to one another in a stream with perforations separating the pages. The printing was in a very blocky font and I think I remember it being all caps. I also recall that the accident reports were always labeled “For Official Use Only.” I may even have one in my pile of “stuff” from my participation on two Class A (fatal) Safety Investigation Boards (SIBs) involving KC-135As.

      I don’t know if copies would have been routinely kept, since the file copies of the AIB would have included all the information in the TWX. The TWX, though, was, as I mentioned, usually a very thorough documentation of what happened and what corrective actions were directed.

      By the way, I have no idea where this response will end up in the sequence of responses until I post it. The more current ones don’t give me the option of a “Reply.” The only option for me to reply was to a message written by you in 2013. Here goes.

      Comment by Gary Scott | May 18, 2020 | Reply

      • Gary, I remember the days before perforated white paper, old yellow stuff! “Teletype” was the real name. Eventually the stuff printed on it would simply fade from existence. Noisy ass machine. Every office seemed to have one, made a lot of noise.

        Comment by rofcibc | May 18, 2020

      • Gary, if you get email notifications, just click on the “REPY” block and it will take you to the site, with a “Leave a Reply”. Fill it in, and it will automatically put it below the message of whoever originally posted it. This site format is NOT like Facebook! I think it’s “WordPress”, where you can sign up and use it here.

        Comment by rofcibc | May 18, 2020

      • Gary, thanks for the explanation. That must be what I was given. As I recall, it was VERY detailed and I used the information to reconstruct the sequence of events into a more readable summary. At that time, would the squadrons get a copy, or be able to get a copy of the AIB? It would seem to me that the information in the TWX would be the best information for the crews so as to understand exactly what happened, why it happened, problems with training, design, etc., and give a better perspective why preventative recommendations were being made. I am sure the wing or squadron FSO would summarize the information for the crews. I may have misunderstood, but was some information not included in the final AIB, such as the fact this aircraft did not delay rotation, along with incorrect rudder deflection as observed by witnesses? Maybe some other stuff I missed. I obviously did not get the AIB, so I do not know what differences could occur between that and the TWX.

        Never had to participate in a formal investigation board, but remember starting the process for the 711g forms with one of our crews for an incident over at Rickenbacker. They had just dropped off me and one of my FS office corpsman, and on the subsequent TO had an engine failure, One of the combustion chambers exploded and they were able to abort the TO. Made emergency evacuation through the cockpit windows to the best of my recollection. Later that day went with the crew to the hanger where the plane had been towed. I was impressed by the holes in the wing from the shrapnel. More than a few. I guess I digress.

        Comment by Dan Kangley | May 18, 2020

    • Dan, if information, like the nose being in the air and the rudder being deflected, was in the TWX, then it would have certainly been in the factual portion of the SIB and the AIB (more on that below). I doubt all squadrons routinely received an actual copy of the AIB report, but I’m pretty sure it would have been provided to any squadron on request.

      Yes, all tanker squadrons, among other units, would have received the TWX, and it would have, almost without exception, been placed in the Crew Information File (CIF). It would have contained the information you asked about, to include what corrective action was recommended. As you might remember, all crewmembers were required to review the CIF before flight, so the information would have been widely disseminated. Something that consequential would have also been a major topic in the monthly Safety Briefing, a mandatory attendance event, unless you were flying, in most squadrons. That TWX would have been the source document for covering the mishap in the briefing.

      In those days (don’t know about now), the first team on the ground, other than the local unit response, at a Class A aircraft accident was the Safety Investigation Board (SIB), and the core of that team was at the site within a very few days (1 or 2). Typically, it had a 30-day suspense for producing a report. The function was to quickly find out what happened so information that might be critical to safety of flight could be rapidly acted upon. The AIB was convened sometime after the SIB was started, and couldn’t complete its investigation and report until the SIB was completed. Most, if not all, of the factual information in the AIB came from the SIB investigation. In my experience, I’ve seen what was one fairly slight difference in the factual information presented in the SIB versus the AIB. That instance was a statement in an AIB that engine compressor stalls were a factor in the inability of a tanker to recover from a stall when I had no recollection of that being included in the SIB (in which I participated) narrative. The SIB determined there was no possibility, due to the altitude at the point of stall, of recovery before impact regardless of whether the engines were performing at 100% thrust or not. In general, however, the AIB uses the SIB report’s factual conclusions for its work. If I remember correctly, SIB reports were actually included as a section of the full AIB report, but, because the SIB included protected testimony, the SIB portion could not be publicly released by law. Only the facts of the mishap (determined by the SIB) as part of the AIB could be released.

      Is all that clear as mud? Maybe an ex-command level flying safety officer lurking around can correct any of my failures of memory.

      Comment by Gary Scott | May 18, 2020 | Reply

      • SIB vs AIB, when I was trying to get the Castle EFTOC report I discovered there have been changes made in what could be released, notably on the SIB report, as a result of some FOI requests and subsequent court cases. In a nutshell, SIBs are pretty much not released now, or if they are, the redactions take more space than factual data. Also there are a lot of them that have been “purged” from the data bases. I’m still trying to get stuff out of the Air University Library, but with the China Virius stuff going on, things are moving slower! Amazingly I still cannot find ANYTHING on the Barksdale KC10 explosion!

        Comment by rofcibc | May 18, 2020

      • Gary, well of course it is clear as mud! Much better than before though.

        So if I understand the sequence correctly: accident > initial SIB > initial AIB > SIB complete > AIB complete > TWX.

        So is ALL the crucial information from the TWX included in the AIB report? Or is the TWX sanitized in some manner. If so, when does that happen? The waters are getting muddy again.

        So the AIB report of the Castle accident, in the form it would have been released in 1978, probably is not available.

        I am now thinking, from what you and Jon have discussed, I may actually have gotten the TWX from one of the squadrons rather than from Norton which was definitely the source of the Life Support reports. That’s where my memory is muddy!

        Comment by Dan Kangley | May 18, 2020

      • Dan, the one singular difference between the Safety Investigation Board and Accident Investigation Board is the operative word “SAFETY”. The mechanism for that is “Confidentiality” that exists in SIB. The goal is to find out what caused the event, in order to prevent further ones. Testimony is therefore “confidential”. It cannot be used in any way for an disciplinary action, aka UCMJ, or even lawsuits.

        I discovered in my efforts through the FOI in getting the SIB for the Castle accident, that in order to protect that confidentiality there were redactions, and omissions of things I really wanted to see. Apparently in order to preserve that confidentiality, and based on lawsuits and court rulings, a lot of those reports no longer exist, and in all probability were physically destroyed, or buried so deep only a few people even have access to them. Damn lawyers again!

        As for the AIB, as I understand it now, it must be released to the public, and are all over the place. I downloaded a few and they are HUGE files! I was interested in the 135 that broke up in flight (Shell 77) because it involved dutch roll and there was FDR and CVR material available. That .pdf document is 1547 pages long!

        Regarding that crash…..

        The last data point captured in the FDR was a nose down attitude of 82 degrees at 21,760 feet.

        The last entry in the CVR transcript was at 08:48:14


        That was not quite 9 minutes after takeoff!

        Think about that for a while!

        Comment by rofcibc | May 19, 2020

      • Jon, thanks for clarifying the distinctions between the SIB and AIB. Pretty much the same in medicine with medical malpractice litigation. A hospital QA investigation or review of a physician (or others) is generally protected from discovery to encourage openness and complete honesty of participants, without fear of retribution. The goal is patient safety and prevention.

        I understand SIB reports being protected, although after 42 years I wonder who or what is really being protected. The AIB reports not being accessible are another matter. Especially with regard to errors or omissions of training and procedures among other things, there are lessons to be learned (re-learned perhaps). Reading some of the NTSB reports, even from accidents many decades ago, can be enlightening. The aircraft and equipment may be significantly different, but the human element remains the same for the most part. That Castle AIB is historical if nothing else.

        I looked at the report of the Shell 77 disaster as well. Pretty crazy and sad, and another example of inadequate training/experience if my memory is correct. I can remember our tanker pilots mentioning dutch roll several times while flying in the 70s.

        Comment by Dan Kangley | May 20, 2020

      • Dan, I think you address an important point in this note, and it is the reason I think there is value in discussing some of the accidents of the past. At another internet venue specific to the KC-135 (all models), discussion of old accidents fairly often surfaces. That site is frequented by old-timers and people still flying the airplane, and people in other specialties connected specifically to the KC-135, such as maintenance, who are/were involved in making the mission happen. An accident that happened 35 years ago probably gets little to no attention in the everyday bustle of activity surrounding today’s training and missions, especially with all the new systems, engines, crew compliment, etc. But, some things never change, such as the aerodynamics of flight and the value of composure and deliberation when things begin to go south. You still can’t fly a large, cargo-type aircraft close to the ground at 90 degrees of bank and expect to survive, or rush yourself so much to resolve an inflight emergency that you fail to maintain basic aircraft control, or try to accomplish maneuvers that leave absolutely no room for error. Maybe discussion of old, dusty, happenings with current operators in the mix can have some positive impact.

        Comment by Gary Scott | May 20, 2020

      • Dan, I went through initial qualification in 1967, did dutch roll, steep turns, emergency descent, and approach to stall. All came under the category of “airmanship”. They stopped doing dutch roll as a demo for initial qualification, when a vertical stabilizer came off of an airplane, not during dutch roll but emergency descent, but still did them as a demo in what was the IP course.

        I used to describe dutch roll as rolling right and turning left. A very unnatural maneuver. You had to stop the roll with the ailerons and NOT the rudder. Any rudder inputs had a better chance of making the rolling WORSE.

        ’73 to ’78 I was a CCTS IP at Castle, and in the last two years the training flight IP, something set up to train newly assigned CCTS IPs, and we did dutch roll for the new CCTS IPs.

        In the Shell 77 crash, there was a time when the AC gave the airplane to the CP while he was doing coordination and trying to figure out what was going on. If you overlay the FDR with that time, the CP was doing the right thing to dampen the dutch roll, i.e. using mostly ailerons, and the oscillations were diminishing. Shortly thereafter the AC took control, and the dutch roll got worse increasingly until the tail came off and the rest was history. Being an R model there was a different yaw damper that the A model and it had a malfunction that was noted on earlier flights. That is what started the whole situation. Total time from take off to write of was about 9 minutes!

        Comment by rofcibc | May 20, 2020

      • rof,

        You said, “As for the AIB, as I understand it now, it must be released to the public, and are all over the place.” One of our (28ARS/Ellsworth) 135s crashed shortly after takeoff at Eielson in the early 70s, killing everyone aboard. I’d like to have a copy of the AIB report. Any suggestions as to how I might get one?


        Comment by Bill Nesbitt | May 20, 2020

      • I contacted the Air Force Safety Center with a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request that got the ball rolling. Their address is HQ AFSEC/JA (FOIA Manager), 9700 G Avenue S.E. Kirtland AFB, NM 87117-5670.

        Here’s a link to the Air Force Freedom of Information site. Be advised they are pretty much closed down due to the China Virus stuff that’s been going on.

        Good luck in your search.

        Comment by rofcibc | May 21, 2020

    • Jon,

      I don’t remember the yellow paper. May have been before my time. You were two or three years ahead of me.

      Comment by Gary Scott | May 18, 2020 | Reply

      • Last place to have those machines was the weather shop…made a sound like an automatic typewriter. Speaking of those weather readouts, I remember one at Webb AFB (’67) “thunderstorms, wind, hail and blowing dust”…..welcome to West Texas!

        Comment by rofcibc | May 18, 2020

    • “Gary, well of course it is clear as mud! Much better than before though.”

      Hope it was helpful, and at least somewhat accurate.

      “So if I understand the sequence correctly: accident > initial SIB > initial AIB > SIB complete > AIB complete > TWX.”

      Yes, that was the sequence.

      “So is ALL the crucial information from the TWX included in the AIB report? Or is the TWX sanitized in some manner. If so, when does that happen? The waters are getting muddy again.”

      I would turn your first sentence around a bit to be precise. ALL the crucial information from the AIB report (and, by extension, what could be released from the SIB report) was included in the TWX. The TWX would not contain specific testimony of witnesses from the SIB. It might say, for instance, “Witnesses confirmed the nose of the aircraft was in the air,” but the actual, transcribed, attributed SIB witness testimony would not be included. So, I guess the answer to your second question would be, yes, the TWX would be sanitized to some extent. As to the third question, the TWX would be composed some time after the AIB was complete by whatever OPR (probably the HQ/SAC Safety Office) had the job and would be fired off from some three-star office like HQ/SAC DO. Or, maybe even from HQ/SAC CC. I don’t remember the actual issuing authority.

      “So the AIB report of the Castle accident, in the form it would have been released in 1978, probably is not available.”

      I would think it should be available, but as Jon has stated, he has been unable to get the complete, except for what was prohibited by law, AIB on this accident.

      “I am now thinking, from what you and Jon have discussed, I may actually have gotten the TWX from one of the squadrons…”

      I think that’s very possible. Now, I’m going to have a gin and tonic.

      Comment by Gary Scott | May 18, 2020 | Reply

      • Gary…..”Gin & Tonic”….I had a Captain & Coke! Barksdale was opened up to retirees Sunday so got a chance to “stock up” on the important stuff….none of that toilet paper though….case of the “Captain 100 proof” 1.5 bottles! Life is good!

        Comment by rofcibc | May 19, 2020

  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

      • I was a KC pilot and good friend of John North, the Co. I had just separated from the USAF. The tower said Ventimiglia was shooting “Combat (Idle diving) Landings” like the KC was a C-130 in Nam and touched a wing-tip. The tower said when a Combat Landing was requested for a KC, they had never heard of such a thing but they “cleared” it. It was a waste of lives from irresponsible flying.

        Comment by Michael Hickey | August 14, 2015

      • It was a “steep idle power approach” not found in any tech order or training manual. As a result of this tragedy the “Training Flights” were established. Prior to them the in unit upgrade training was accomplished by staff IP’s, who did not fly as an upgrade IP on a regular and frequent basis. The aircraft ran out of “airspeed” “altitude” and “ideas” all at the same time. It impacted the ground a few hundred feet into the overrun and stopped short of the actual start of the runway. Gives an idea of how little forward speed (as in flying speed) the airplane had.

        The “Training Flights” were established to provide continuity in training as the IP’s (and IN, IBO) were not on crews, did not pull alert, did not go TDY. They were in fact a “mini CCTS” at the unit.

        How do I know this? I was the first “Training Flight IP” at Robins. Later on I went to Castle and spent 5 years as a CCTS IP, and eventually set up the CCTS version to train new CCTS IPs since the experience in the force was decimated by the post Vietnam cutback on experienced crew resources.

        While at Castle as the CCTS IP trainer I developed an analysis of what took place and how fast airspeed bleeds off with no way to get it back with the engines. We did the maneuver at 10,000 feet and it took nearly 3000 feet to get the airplane “flying” using the accident profile. The accident aircraft didn’t even have 1000 feet.

        Comment by rofcibc | August 14, 2015

      • I started out in a KC135 as a Nav. One pilot arrived at the squadron. His prior aircraft was a C130. He insisted on landing on “brick one” whatever that meant. I tried to explain that SAC runways were usually 12000 feet long so landing on the first foot was a stupid concept. I later flew C130s and appreciated their short landing profiles. However the first rule is to respect the aircraft, not the pilot.

        Comment by Stephen Francis | August 15, 2015

      • I was a boom operator in the 7th ARS when the KC-135 crashed at Carswell. I no longer the exact numbers but simulator tests indicated that it took something like 6.25 seconds for the engines to go from idle to full thrust and most of the thrust increase came in the last 0.75 seconds. Those numbers may not be exact but the point is that most of the thrust increase came in the last fraction of a second. This IP had a history of making idle engine approaches and later I ran into a boom operator that knew him years before and he said people said this then pilot was going to kill someone someday. In the last seconds of flight the KC banked about 75 degrees to the right, the right wingtip contacted the runway, at about 2,000 feet down the runway, gouged the runway for several hundred feet, veered off the runway to the right and when the wingtip hit the grass the aircraft cartwheeled.

        For about five months I stared at that gouged runway on every flight.

        The boom operator was in the first class of “baby booms.”

        It was a PUP ride for a stan/eval co-pilot. His son was born on Friday and he died on Monday.
        The flight was an instructor and annual check for the nav and an annual check for the boom operator.
        A taxi-back was planned for the EN and the EBO planned to stay on the flight, but at the last minute got off the aircraft. The aircraft took off and crashed on the first approach.

        Other than idle engine approaches, this IP was a capable pilot and instructor. I knew several of the staff IPs at Carswell and they were all capable instructors.

        Comment by Clarence E. Vold CMSgt - retired | August 15, 2015

      • I was John North’s (the Co) assigned mentor at the 7thARS. At the time, I was a Co that had been with the 7th a couple of years when he arrived. We were friends.

        Not knowing the capabilities and limitations of your aircraft is a very long way from calling the A/C “capable”. To fly a KC-135 in a C-130, short-field profile is beyond stupid and mindlessly dangerous. This A/C managed to kill himself and four other innocent airman unnecessarily for no other reason than unadulterated hubris…..a disease I am sure has killed its share a USAF airmen but it is still sad when it happens because it is so unnecessary.

        My thanks to those that shed more light on this tragedy. It has eaten on me for 40+ years.

        Comment by Michael Hickey | August 15, 2015

      • Maj Ventimiglia would have been born in 1926 and could have served in WW II. I doubt that he had continuous service because that could have put him at about 28 years service in 1972 and that doesn’t seem likely.
        On my first alert tour at Carswell my crew replaced Bruce’s drew. The oncoming boom operator drove the old crew out to the aircraft and our gear changed. Apparently Bruce had been blaming jerky starts on a grabby clutch. I eased the clutch out for a smooth start and his entire crew razzed him about that “bad” clutch..

        Comment by Clarence E. Vold CMSgt retired | September 30, 2015

    • It was not a C-130 landing. It was, however the kind of approach that had to be flown into Hickam AFB from over Honolulu due to altitude restrictions a shorter and steeper than normal approach with idle engines and speed brakes. I’ve been in the cockpit for some of these and that was about the only time a tanker scared me. Vietnam was still going strong and KC-135s flew into and out of Hickam on a regular basis so the approach itself was not that far out of what a tanker pilot might face. This accident was a topic of discussion after the accident and the point discussed most was the time it took for the engines to go from idle to full thrust. I am surprised you did not know Major Ventimiglia. David Gallagher was my first A/C and about the only other name I remember was Buddy Crump.
      Yes Major V made a dumb-ass mistake and it took his life and four others, but I have known some outstanding pilots that also made dumb-ass mistakes that took their lives and others. The critical mistake was not adding power soon enough, like over the golf course

      Comment by Clarence E. Vold CMSgt retired | September 11, 2015 | Reply

      • Hickam shares the runway with HNL where hundreds of civilian flights come and go every year. I was assigned there in the 80’s and took several flights in and out, C-5, C-141, even a KC-135, the glideslope was unremarkable.

        Comment by CB | September 16, 2015

      • After scores of missions ferrying F-4s from Oakland radials to Hawaii (then Guam and a drop-off to DaNang), 4 Young Tiger tours and an Arc Light, (225 Young Tiger missions), I’ve flown in and out of HNL dozens of time and I agree completely….the glide-slope was/is un-remarkable. 2.5 degrees probably. It does seems there was a noise abatement turn to the south to avoid Wakiki when parting from 8R. Other than that, I remember nothing remarkable about coming or going from HNL.

        Comment by Michael Hickey (ex-KC Command Pilot- 7th ARS) | September 17, 2015

      • My experience in and out of Hickam was in 1972 and 1973.

        Departing on runway 8, I remember a right turn of about 45 degrees, I don’t remember the altitude, but the thing I remember most was water injection running out halfway through the turn – in a 30 degree bank and losing about 20% of the thrust – that figure could be off, I remember 13,000 lbs of thrust with injection but am not sure of dry thrust.

        I know that has changed because I watched a video taken from the number two tanker in a cell departure years later and they did not make anywhere near as sharp of a turn as we did in 1972.

        I remember that landing on runway 8 was a very shallow approach, but landing on runway 26 was a steeper than normal approach and I remember idle engines with speed brakes and quite similar to the approach flown by Maj Ventimiglia according to what I remember from the accident report and pilot discussions in the squadron and mission planning.

        He let the airplane get away from him. Why? Was he aware of how long it took a J-57 to go from idle power to full thrust? Did you Michael? A point that sticks with me is that the pilots in the 7th ARS were not aware of that – based on discussions after the accident.

        On outstanding pilots and mistakes, an RC-135 crashed in Alaska in 1985. I knew the pilot as a captain in EC-135s at Ellsworth. Our squadron commander in 1985 was C.C Adams – he was in the 7th ARS – and I met him sometime after that accident and he said this pilot did something so totally out of character for him that it was unbelievable. That pilot was the most conscientious pilot I have ever known, almost to the point of being obnoxious.

        Perhaps I am being too defensive about Major Ventimiglia, but he was a friend.

        Comment by Clarence E. Vold, CMSgt - retired | September 18, 2015

      • Final comment.

        You realize that we are looking at this, especially landings and takeoffs from Hickam/HNL from different perspectives – you at the controls knowing exactly when you will add power and me sitting back and on the approach to runway 26 remembering it takes several seconds to go from idle engine to full thrust and I don’t know when the pilot is going to add power. I guess I am a wimp but this worried me more than our tanker getting lost and ending up following a flight of F-4s towards Hanoi during Linebacker II, or seeing a B-52 bomb strike less than a mile behind our tanker. Many years later that last point became – Oh crap, that could have been bad.

        This is a dilemma for me. I know Maj Ventimiglia was at fault and he and four others died because of his decision, but I can’t condemn him, I don’t know why. My personal opinion and I will always believe this is that the approach itself was not the problem, it was the execution. I don’t know if it is was ever determined who was actually flying the aircraft, but I suspect it was Capt. North and if so, why did Maj V let it go that far, why did he wait so long before adding or calling for more power? Was Capt. North wanting to add power and Maj V said, “Not yet?” But the bottom line still is that it was his fault! I can’t ignore that, no mechanical problem, no weather problem, pilot error.

        From what I remember from the news reports there were people on the golf course that said the aircraft look like it was having control problems, I think some people said it looked like it was already stalling over the golf course.

        I especially think about Capt. North’s son that will never know his father and Capt. North’s wife with a new baby and her husband gone. I also remember the boom operator, Bruce Klaverkamp still 19. I think about the other families, including Maj Ventimiglia.

        It indirectly hit me a couple of days later when my neighbor said after hearing about the crash if wondered if he still had a neighbor. People that worked with my wife wouldn’t talk to her or say anything about the accident until they knew that I wasn’t in the accident. That gave me a weird feeling that I could get killed, yet I never thought about it or worried about a fatal accident. I wrote a book about my life story and a comment I made was “No one plans on an accident until a few seconds before the crash.”

        On the accident in Alaska I never learned what the pilot did and I do not want to know. I just want to remember him, the officer and aircraft commander that he was.

        Comment by Clarence E. Vold, CMSgt - retired | September 18, 2015

      • The “whoo hah” Hickam departure was done back when we had water wagons and there was no “Reef” runway as the parallel runway further out from the main airport was called.

        The “old” (late 60s) procedure was to when the gear retraction started was to make a 15 degree bank right turn. This kept the plane from flying over downtown Honolulu. Once the gear were up and doors closed (light in the handle went out) the bank was increased to 30 degrees. Since we were heavy, and the turn reduced the climb rate, the water ran out at a lower altitude, at about the time the flaps hit the zero stops. Not the best situation, but doable if you had all four “turning & burning”.

        Later on (early 70s) when the FD/RGA system was installed we had a nifty little thing called “ac/cl”. It was a profile that instead of climbing to flap retract altitude at a constant speed (V2 + 10) you flew a slightly lower deck angle and accelerated to flap retract speed, began retracting them, all while still accelerating. The advantage was you ended up with a much higher airspeed when the flaps came up, and when water eventually ran out. #1 rule: “airspeed is life”.

        Eventually they built the “Reef” runway and the entire turn and climb procedure became moot as a straight ahead climb out could be made without worrying about “going downtown”.

        To quote Donnie Baker, “I swear to God it’s true”!

        Comment by Jon Mickley | September 18, 2015

      • Chief Vold, It was, as I said before a “steep idle power approach”. Not needed in any situation and certainly not in the dash one, or any training manual. 100% avoidable, 100% pilot error.

        I spent 14 years in the 135, the last 12 as an IP, and five at Castle as a CCTS IP. As I mentioned before we did that “approach” at 10,000 feet as a demo for new IPs to show just what would happen if they ever got into a similar situation. It took 3000 feet to recover. The accident airplane had less than a 1000 feet.

        The original engines on the 135 took a lot longer to spool up than later ones, due to the later ones (as on most turbo jet airplanes) had two idle speeds. Ground and flight. The flight idle was much higher just to avoid that spool up lag. Unfortunately the accident took place before that feature was part of the 135 fleet’s engines.

        On a semi related note, I flew the C7 Caribou in SEA and we did many “steep, very steep” approaches. But the ‘Bou was a STOL airplane by design and had the capabilities to do that profile. We were going really slow (50 knots) and with reciprocating engines and constant speed props, plus massive flaps, the plane would respond quite nicely. But in a swept wing jet….no way.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | September 18, 2015

      • I wonder if pilot technique made a difference in that approach to Hickam from the Honolulu side, or maybe my experience with the pilot. On a fighter drag with Maj Bill Jenerrette from the 7th ARS to me it was no sweat, but I had flown with Maj Jenerrette on a regular basis. On a goat run headed to Thailand I was with a captain and this was our second mission so I wasn’t as comfortable with him.

        Comment by Clarence E. Vold, CMSgt - retired | September 26, 2015

      • Chief Void, in all the approaches to Hickam I ever flew, none of them were ones where I had to land to the East, which would have been over Honolulu. They were all to the West which was a normal approach. The real issue, as chronicled before was the takeoff, which in all the takeoffs I made, were to the West.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | September 27, 2015

      • Chief Vold…..old age got to me….the East & West got swapped! The normal approach to Hickam was to the EAST as in Runway 09. The normal departure was also to the EAST, as in Runway 09. Hence the problem operation was to the EAST and was the takeoff, not the landing.

        Think I got the direction right this time.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | September 27, 2015

      • As a directionally-challenged boom-operator, i.e. left, right, up, down, forward and back, I didn’t think about east and west but rather Honolulu departure/approach or ocean departure/approach. On the map it looks like there is a Rwy 4 or 5 Do you remember that because I remember a long shallow approach over the ocean. Go to you tube and check out this video,kc-135 cell departure hickam afb.

        Comment by Clarence E. Vold CMSgt retired | September 27, 2015

      • I have been going over this lately, my thoughts now and then. To refresh my memory of “then” I went to “Farmer’s Son, Military Career,” pages 148 – 150. (shameless plug) Then I stated “pilot error.” Recently I seem to be rationalizing this accident but have moved away from that idea. So Jon I now say you and Michael are right and I am wrong.

        I have been refreshing my memory of Hickam and Carswell with google maps and I don’t see how flying this approach at Carswell would apply to Hickam. The more I think about it the more I think that any qualified KC-135 pilot of that time could fly that approach without difficulty

        Even if the approach was worth demonstrating, why on a pilot upgrade flight, so at the very least Maj Ventimiglia was adlibbing beyond the scheduled training activity or trying to impress this young pilot candidate. I could say more about that approach, but I don’t want to think about being in that cockpit.

        I enjoyed being a boom operator more than anything else I’ve done but scheduling was the skill I was best at. I’ve scheduled EC-135 flight and alert duty, missile crews and administrative airlift within 5th Air Force.

        Is it true that CFIC instructors at Castle would demonstrate a touch and go with differential speed brakes?

        Comment by Clarence E. Vold CMSgt retired | September 30, 2015

      • NOTE: This is a long reply as I am trying to set the stage of what it was like back in the early 70s in the SAC crew force and their training, and what happened after that.

        Chief Vold, the root cause of the accident was the “steep idle power approach”, something that is not needed anywhere, even the much ballyhooed “Hong Kong Curve” approach which I have flown. But what came out of the investigation, was as I mentioned elsewhere was the Unit Training Flight. Prior to that time there were two places you could upgrade. The CCTS at Castle, or “in unit”. At that time the majority of upgrades from Co Pilot to Aircraft Commander were done “in unit”. (ALL, repeat ALL initial qualifying was done at CCTS regardless of crew position) Many of the IPs in a unit were in staff jobs where they did not fly nearly as much, nor in the same environment as the CCTS IPs, who did, on a daily basis fly with pilots who were getting initial qualification (as a Co Pilot, or Aircraft Commander) or upgrade to Aircraft Commander. There was a continuity of training (you flew every 4 days) which did not exist at the unit level. PERIOD!

        As I said, this problem was recognized and the solution was the unit Training Flight. There was an IP, IN, and IBO in the Training Flight. We did not pull alert, go TDY, and were required to fly 8 times a month. When a Co Pilot was going to upgrade, he was taken off a crew and actually assigned to the Training Flight until he completed the required training. We used the same profiles and schedule the CCTS used. In short we were a “Mini CCTS’ at the unit.

        So, what had changed from “way back in the day” to when this crash took place? Mainly, the turnover in the crew force was a LOT more! Back in the day a co pilot would have 7 or more years in that crew position and a couple thousand hours before he started upgrade. The vast majority of IPs were on crews, and also had many years, and thousands of hours as a “crew dog”. The fracas in SEA changed that! I’ll use myself as an example. I got to Barksdale in March 1968. In May 1969 I left for SEA to fly C7s. 14 months and I was gone. My Aircraft Commander, who had just gotten back from Castle had seven years, and this was his first AC job. He left about two months after I did for SEA in C130s.

        In a nutshell what had been a stable crew force, where pilots stayed on a crew for years and years, became one where it was only months and months. As a result the turnover and TRAINING requirements exploded! The CCTS just did not have enough slots for PUP (upgrade to Aircraft Commander) training, due to the big load of initial qualifications. Many of which were coming directly into the left seat, and had no experience in the KC135.

        In closing, this is not a condemnation of the IP on the Carswell accident, it is just a way to show that the individuals who were charged with the in unit training requirements were in a totally different environment that had existed in SAC for many, many years, and sadly the leadership of SAC had not recognized that change.

        On an related note, even the CCTS was feeling the same “pinch”, i.e. lower and lower experience levels. When I went to Castle as a CCTS IP in 1973 I had about 3000 hours, a 1000 of which was C7 time. I was still a “slick wing” pilot (less than 7 years of rated time) and I was the FIRST ever “slick wing” pilot to become a CCTS IP. In the next five years that became the norm at CCTS, and guess what? In 1977, they too set up a “CCTS Training Flight” to train the CCTS IPs, who like the unit crewmembers, had fewer and fewer hours that ever before in the history of SAC and the CCTS at Castle. I know that because I was the CCTS IP who put the program to “train the trainers” together and ran it until I left Castle in 1978.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | October 1, 2015

      • I came into SAC at Carswell AFB in Jun 1971 and my memory is that close to half of the pilots were Majors Stan/Eval had one LTC and two Majors. My first pilot was a CCTS upgrade and at one time I was on a crew with a 1st Lt pilot and a LTC navigator. When I got to Ellsworth AFB, all 28th ARS pilots were Captains, including the KC-135 Stan/Eval pilots. There was one EC-135 Major Stan/Eval pilot, the others were Captains and Captains were pilots on all line crews.

        I remember two co-pilot crews and sometimes co-pilots came close to exceeding the days between landings. One co-pilot I flew with was a very good pilot but when it got over 40 days between landings, he tried to make that first landing about ten feel below the runway and after that smooth landings. My guess is that the picture from the jump seat influenced his landing picture from the right seat.

        There were some excellent young co-pilots and I was on crews with two that in my estimation had the skills and leadership potential to become excellent pilots and aircraft commanders – Mark Cole and Neal Jackson.

        Are you familiar with the Castle crew that crashed at Beale AFB in August 1985?

        Comment by Clarence E. Vold, CMSgt - retired | October 3, 2015

      • Chief Vold, in reply to your questions,

        #1 “Is it true that CFIC instructors at Castle would demonstrate a touch and go with differential speed brakes?”

        It was, and in the CCTS training flight I have not only demonstrated it, but taught the new instructors to do it. It wasn’t really a big deal, just a matter of getting the right switch under the glareshield (spoiler cut out switches they were called) one set pitched the nose up and the other pitched it down. Had to do with their fore/aft position on the wings and the center of pressure around which the airplane moved in the pitch axis. You would pull up about 10 degrees of speed brakes, then cut out the inboard, spoilers and presto, the plane would rotate, as when the inboards went down, only the outboard were still up and be the more aft pair, they induced a up rotation force on the wing. The 10 degrees was the limit as if you got to 20, the differential between the “up” and “down” was increased. This was because the spoilers were used in conjunction with the ailerons to increase roll rates and if you put in aileron with speed brakes up between 20 & 40 degrees, you got as much as 60 degrees differential. No big deal using 10 degrees, as the elevator would easily override the differential spoiler forces. (Probably more than you really wanted to know!)

        #2 “Are you familiar with the Castle crew that crashed at Beale AFB in August 1985?”

        Not enough to go into details. I am more familiar with the one where the cows on the runway were struck, (I was at Castle at the time) and the one at Castle where the EFTOC maneuver was performed but the recovery involved the wrong rudder. (I had just left for AFRES at Grissom, and we were doing our own CCTS there) The former only the cows died, the latter some crewmembers were killed, among then Al Evans the IBO who was on his last flight.

        FYI, Mark “King” Cole flew with me at Grissom in the AFRES KC135 unit in the late 70s, and “Real” Neal Jackson flew in my KC10 squadron at Barksdale in the 80s. King still lives in Indy and last I heard Neal was in the Seattle area. Both great guys, consummate professionals, fine Officers, and despite his outside the airplane demeanor King was one of the best IP’s I ever knew. Many times I wish he had been a CCTS IP at Castle.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | October 3, 2015

    • Maj. Charles N. Ventimiglia was a WW-II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veteran with 3 Air Medals from New York
      Maj. John Lloyd Snow was 37 and was laid to rest at Arlington
      Capt John Calvin North, Jr. may have been from Kansas only two weeks of his 26th birthday
      1Lt Alexander Eugene McCarthy full name
      Bruce John Klaverkamp was an E-4 (called Senior Airman today, A1C then)

      Rest in peace gentlemen

      Comment by CB | September 22, 2015 | Reply

      • Maj. Ventimiglia must have been the most under promoted officer in the USAF to have been in WW II. I sat in the same squadron meetings with him at the 7th ARS and he appeared in his 40s….in 1969! So I think WW II is probably out of the question. I am somewhat amused that Clarence E. Vold, CMSgt seems to be asking myself, with thousands of hours in the KC-135 time and the rest of the wonderful and bright 7th ARS pilots if we knew how long a KC engine took to spool up. Dah? I don’t think this is a venue for a pissing match. The point is, is that several airman lost their lives because of poor airmanship,…period. There is no other way around it. An AC was showing off, trying to land very short and screwed it up….period. Good, innocent people died, as they always do in these instances. I see nothing else to add but I am sure Clarence E. Vold, CMSgt will have something to say….whew.

        Comment by Michael Hickey | September 26, 2015

      • Of course you will Michael, I wouldn’t want to disappoint you.

        Actually I have been talking about thrust increase not engines spooling up. I have not explained my point very well so I have earned your sarcasm.

        This is based on the accident investigation with the simulator. The throttles and engines are at idle and at some point they realize they need a whole lot more power and push the throttles to the max. But, for almost 5 seconds there will not be a significant increase in thrust.

        Was that minimal thrust increase for several seconds common knowledge? My impression from the accident report and comments by pilots during mission planning was it wasn’t common knowledge.
        I agree this is not the place for a continued discussion so if interested,

        Comment by Clarence E. Vold CMSgt retired | September 26, 2015

      • I remember the subject being an important matter when I went thru CCTS co-pilot training at Castle in 1981.

        Comment by Barry Cohen, USAF Veteran, 43rd ARS, Fairchild AFB | September 26, 2015

      • I’m back Michael with a sorta almost seismic shift in opinion on Maj Ventimiglia. You are right, I am wrong. I looked at this mission again but this time from the perspective of a crew scheduler. SAC manuals listed the minimum requirements for a co-pilot to complete to be upgraded. Scheduling has a list of requirements accomplished and remaining and schedule items to be completed and schedule items on each flight. This approach is definitely not a SAC requirement – I believe you also stated that. Based on the Google map of Carswell I now wonder how this approach would be applicable to Hickam AFB. The only approach that I know of where an orientation was appropriate was Hong Kong – turn at the checkerboard.
        Maj V is at the very least adlibbing and very well could have been trying to impress this young pilot candidate with his superior aerial skills.

        Comment by Clarence E. Vold CMSgt retired | September 30, 2015

      • I understand what you mean. On findagrave website, there is a picture of his grave marker with the information on it. He may have had some breaks in service and would have been 19 in ’45. Respectfully,

        Comment by CB | September 26, 2015

      • Chief Vold, the issue of spool up times was not a mystery. It was well known at the time and had been for many years. I fact there was a warning in the dash one about it. As I mentioned before that accident formed the basis for the Training Flights, and later when I was the Training Flight IP at the Castle CCTS we developed a demo to show it. As I said elsewhere we did it at 10,000 feet and it took 3000 feet to stop the descent.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | September 27, 2015

      • I believe response time was a problem with the first jet engines. It is obvious that Maj. V got behind the power curve and had to add a whole bunch of power in a hurry and he did not have the time he needed. Did he know that when he advanced the throttles to max power from the engines and throttles at idle that it would take about 5 seconds before there was any significant increase in thrust?

        That is the main point I remember from the accident report that this was a new factor plus pilots discussing this as if this were new knowledge. I wouldn’t bet more than a Big Mac on it but that is what I remember.

        If you are interested in knowing what a B-52 bomb train over Laos looks like at night from about a mile ahead of the train, contact me at:

        Comment by Clarence E. Vold CMSgt retired | September 27, 2015

      • Chief and pilots, Thank you for sharing more information on this. I read a redacted short version of the report years ago from a Texas Airplane Crash website that I’m no longer able to find. You have provided a lot of missing details. Jon I read a paper you wrote on-line reminding pilots to wind the clock before making a decision and I read part of your book Chief on Amazon. I’m glade my father worked around a lot of great guys like yourselves. Dad probably owes his life to the Instructor Nav. who he departed with. Respectfully, –CB

        Comment by CB | September 28, 2015

      • Just a few comments: After the full stop at 1259 to allow the stand-board team to depart because the check ride was complete, it appears the touch-and-go sequence may have been an afterthought. Neat 74 (0048) was cleared for takeoff 12 minutes later, then two uneventful touch-and-goes were completed. On the third touch-and-go attempt crew requested “high approach” 2 minutes out and cleared for touch-and-go. During the unexpected sink they banked 30 degrees left, then applied power and banked 45 degrees right. Fire department was on scene within 4 minutes then under control in 3. T.O. 1C-135(K)A-1 was later changed in change 21 warning “Steep idle power approaches or all approach angles and rates of descent requiring large changes in pitch attitude during landing flare, must be avoided.” –Respectfully,

        Comment by CB | October 28, 2015

  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

    • Hi Charles, my Uncle was the AC Commander of that flight Maj Harris. I’ve have gotten the accident report from the Air Force but very little in way of phot’s or actual reports from people there. It was a Chrome Dome mission with a 60 year TS lock. Report for mission will be available in 2023. Any info you have would be great to my Mom, his surviving sister. I am a retired Airline Capt that followed in his path in both Air Force the continued service with Airlines. My email is

      Thank you
      Capt Glen Ellis

      Comment by Glen Ellis | October 15, 2019 | 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

    • Farmer’s Son, Military Career, my book, includes my time as a boom operator and TDY to the Young Tiger operation during the Linebacker II operation. Available in print and e-book editions through Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Clarence E. Kip Vold

      Comment by Clarence E. Vold, CMSgt - retired | October 2, 2015 | 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

      • I also had a very good friend SSGT Joe Mcalister who was killed in a plane crash in spain. At one time he was stationed at Mcoy AFB. Im trying to see if this is the same Joe. Please contact me Thank You Ted!

        Comment by donna sweeting | August 17, 2015

    • Mike, Ted is right. I was also up there at the time. I hope you can remember me. I am Steve Andy Anderson from West Bend and I remember you being from Milwaulee and went to work for Delta I believe. We worked together. I crewed 59-1522.

      Comment by Steve Andy Anderson | June 24, 2014 | Reply

  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

    • KC-135A 58-0002 crashed near Belton, TX, on 31 March 59. It was delivered directly to Bergstrom and assigned there on 17 Feb 59 and had only 50 total hours when it crashed. The accident report indicates that it suffered severe turbulence in a thunderstorm, causing two engines to separate. One of them broke off the tail section. The airplane may also have been hit by lightning as the cause of its explosion in midair, but that was not confirmed by the accident investigators. There are plenty of web references to the crash, including family member comments confirming the serial number, as well as Boeing’s production list.

      Comment by "DrBob" Hopkins | February 14, 2015 | Reply

  73. On July 13, 1955 my father John Easterling was a pilot of a refueling tanker that went down shortly after take off from Castle. I believe it was a KC 135 but is not listed here. I have heard that the cause was a faulty alternator. I was actually just looking up a history of Castle AFB when I came across this sight. In reading through the comments of family members who have gone through such a loss I realized it’s the first time I have “met” anyone with the same experience. I was 3 when it happened but still remember the chaplain’s car parking in front of the house and being ushered out to a neighbor’s while my mom received the news.

    Comment by Linda Easterling | April 29, 2015 | Reply

    • Linda, this may have been a KC-97 that crashed shortly after takeoff at Castle about that time. I’ll check and get back to you if this is.

      Comment by Dr. K.A. Crooks | January 25, 2020 | Reply

      • Linda,
        If you are still reading these, I do have a follow up on your post.
        My father confirms my earlier statement. If you are still monitoring this, please post back as he would be pleased to provide you information.

        Comment by Dr. K.A. Crooks | January 26, 2020

  74. Can anyone list the crew members of the Loring crash on 4 October 1989? One of the four was an OTS grad with my husband. Thanks

    Comment by Gretchen Tucker | May 16, 2015 | Reply

    • 10/4/1989 Limestone Nr. Loring AFB KC-135A 56-3592 USAF Loring AFB 407 ARS LtCol William H. Northcutt/Killed, 1Lt Robert D. Weinman/Killed, 2Lt Albert H. Taft/Killed, Exploded and broke up on approach, impacted near Perth-Andover NB Destroyed
      A1C Jack D. Cupp/Killed

      Comment by Pete Noddin | May 16, 2015 | Reply

  75. I visited both 56-3613 and 60-0352 crash sites at Mt. Spokane. Still quite a bit of wreckage left at both sites.

    Comment by William | May 19, 2015 | Reply

  76. Rc-135S crashed at Shemya on March 15, 1981.
    RC-135T was assigned to Eielson, not Offutt
    3584 was an EC-135C not a J.

    Comment by Don Roden | May 20, 2015 | Reply

  77. The date for 59-1452 was actually 13JAN1999 not 14 Jan. I watched Esso 77 stall and descend into the trees that night. Not something one forgets.

    Comment by Marty K | June 19, 2015 | Reply

  78. I would like to clear up some information on the 1973 collision between 63-7989 and 63-7980 at Lockbourn AFB, Ohio. The story as printed says that the two aircraft were taxing to the runway when they collided. That isn’t exactly how it happened. Even the story in the civilian newspapers say the same thing but it is in error as it imply s that both aircraft were side by side taxiing and one turned and they collided. It’s true that both aircraft were parked next to one another, and that the alert happened in the early hours of morning, and that the Alert area was dark, covered in thick fog. All that was true, but how they came to collide needs clarification. The procedure at the time for alert aircraft was that when the aircraft was ready to taxi it contacted Command post and announced it’s ready status and it was Command Post that gave permission to taxi. Problem was that Command Post did not have the Alert Area in sight. In fact, they could not even see the flight line from inside a building with no windows. 63-7989 had reached the point of taxing and was given the go ahead to do so and had in fact left it’s parking spot in route to the taxiway, but was stopped short due to traffic. 63-7980 was still not ready to taxi until 63-7989 had turned and was sitting in front of 63-7980 waiting behind other aircraft that were also in the process of taxiing. After 63-7989 had stopped, 63-7980 received permission from Command Post to taxi, which it proceeded to do, without first turning on it’s taxi lights. As they were turned on after 63-7980 was powering up and beginning to roll from its spot the pilot, with his left hand on the taxi steering wheel, had his first sight of 63-7989 directly in front of him. The logical thing to have done was to apply the brakes, but the pilot of 63=7980, out of reflex, turned the half-moon steering wheel and the plane spun causing the left wingtip to enter the cargo bay just aft of the electronics rack, not the O2 area under the flight deck as reported. When the wingtip entered the electronics rack the surge tank in the wingtip exploded causing the fire. The Navigator was killed by the wingtip itself and after the explosion the Co-pilot managed to maneuver into the main entry hatch area and died there. The rest of the Article is true, except the Vice wing Commander did not shut the engines down from inside because the cockpit was completely engulfed in fire. They shut the engines down after the aircraft came to rest in the grassy area by injecting fire retardant foam in the intakes.
    You may ask how do I know this? I was the Crew Chief of 63-7980, Msgt Daniel Murphy, USAF Retired. There have been accounts that Sgt Sedberry was the crew chief. To my recollection SRA White, my assistant, was crewing at the time of the accident. I had just come off of alert the day prior.The Boom Operator and Sgt Cassidy got out of the aircraft via the left Over-wing hatch. Sgt Cassidy disappeared immediately and was subsequently found in the NCO Club. Who could blame him? The incident unnerved him so much that Sgt Cassidy cross trained. Had it Not been for Sgt Cassidy asking the Boom Operator for assistance toward the rear of the cargo area, the Boomer would have succumbed to the accident as well,. He had been standing exactly where the wingtip entered the fuselage, by the galley.

    Comment by Daniel D. Murphy | July 3, 2015 | Reply

    • Daniel, just remembered something as I read this again. Had to do with the inboard wing tip “moving back” when a planed turned hard to the left. If memory (fading with each second) that was how the fact the wingtip pierced the fuselage just aft of the copilot, killing the nav, then moved rearward toward the galley area.

      Comment by Jon Mickley | October 9, 2015 | Reply

    • Word we got down at BAFB when this ‘mover’ taxi accident happened was that “they” were in a big hurry to taxi (as we all could get when we decoded “the message” and learned it was a “mover”) and one of the tankers moved out quick and clipped the other tanker as it was shaving off (i.e., didn’t square turn out from the chocks/parking spot) it’s initial 90-degree turn-out…with high power setting). We were told that the wing-tip of the MA#1 (mishap aircraft) crashed/glazed/sliced into the other tanker’s right side just in flight deck area right around navigator station/panel and that the outboard wing’s reserve tank ruptured (JP4) and resulting fuel spill ignited (also that fuel supposedly poured into the tanker that got hit/clipped). Translated? Crew/pilot error was mishap cause and as a consequence “a valuable crew/member and irreplaceable aircraft was lost.: 🙂 It was never confirmed, but tanker lore (at least at Barksdale) suggested that they had their nuclear detonation thermal radiation curtains installed and were looking through the very small/narrow “peep hole” flap openings installed on pilot/copilots windscreen when aircraft was pre-flighted and ‘cocked’ on Alert. After that, no more night exercise movers anywhere in SAC. Also, no more leaving curtains installed. That was to be done inflight. But we still had to show proficiency in installing them…whenever a new aircraft was brought on 24x7x90 day alert duty or when we had an ORI (readiness inspection). In general, exercise movers got more and more infrequent…especially after one ended up in a ramp perimeter fence up at Pease AFB, NH in the late 80s. (forget to turn on hydraulic pumps during engine start and — therefore — had no brakes).

      Comment by Rodger Burkley (aka, "PACK44N") | February 4, 2016 | Reply

    • BTW….we had a similar taxi accident at Barksdale involveing a B52 with our vice wing commander in the left seat. Wingtip clipped a MX bread-truck and totaled the truck. But you’ll NEVER see a report on this accident anywhere as it was covered up big time. How? Local BAFB MX and Motorpool guys effectively “repaired” the MX bread truck (i.e., van) by using parts from another one (presumably, an out-of-commissioned one on hand) so that the accident got downgraded into a Class C (or less) accident category….and/ore was (therefore) never reported. In any case, us crewdogs ALL had a standing ‘gag order’ to NOT talk to anybody about it…especially the local press. One guy did though…and he got into big trouble as I recall (as in Career limiting or ending).

      Comment by Rodger Burkley (aka, "PACK44N") | February 4, 2016 | Reply

  79. I remember when that happened.

    I was a training flight IP then and I remember we briefed that accident because of way it happened. It was a case of when a tanker made a hard turn the wingtip actually moved back, even though the airplane was moving forward in the turn.

    If memory serves me right one of the things that came out of the accident was the “terminate, terminate, terminate” procedure where anyone could call a halt to an alert exercise if they observed anything that was unsafe. Moving “coco” exercises were an accident looking for a place to happen, even on a clear day. Again going on a fading memory (aren’t they all?) when the “terminate” call was made on the radio, all planes were to stop if moving, hold position if not moving, and shut down engines.

    Did the aircraft commander escape by opening his window and jumping out, or am I remembering that from a different accident (Beale collision with the cattle)?

    Later in my career I pulled alert at Lockbourne (by then Rickenbacker). I was at Grissom and the runway was closed for extensive repairs so the alert force was over at Rickenbacker. That would have been in 1979 (I think)

    Comment by rofcibc | July 4, 2015 | Reply

    • As a former, long-time SAC and AMC KC-135 flyer with both Active Duty and Guard units (NHANG/Pease ANGB) I — like the rest of you “tanker toads” out there love Boeing’s Stratotanker. So here’s my feeble attempt to acknowledge and honor this great aircraft….and crews, support personal and…of course….Boeing. I submit it for the readership’s/tanker community’s reading pleasure and approval… 🙂

      Comment by Rodger Burkley (aka, "PACK44N") | February 4, 2016 | Reply

    • I remember that accident/incident well, having been assigned to the 2BW Barksdale AFB from mid-70s to mid 1980. Happened at night I guess. An “Elephant Walk” gone dreadfully wrong. The terminate call is as you describe, with exception that we (at least at BAFB) did NOT shut down engines. Our strict instructions were to immediately cease all actions/movement and hold position/in place until receiving further words via encoded message OR clear text/voice over UHF from our command post or “Alpha” (Wing Commander). I’m sure nobody wanted to restart all those engines…certainly NOT with expensive/finicky starter cartridges (KC-135A model). BTW….we used to get ‘hang fires’ frequently…but if it “was the real thing” message we could take off from Alert posture with a hang fire cartridge in the breach. Nobody wanted to do that….or even do an EWO/weight ‘free flow’ take-off with/behind the BUFFs, etc. The black powder smoke from all those many cartridges being fired off at once on a Klaxon alert stuff was so much….us crew dogs would go on Oxygen 100% until the crew chief came up the ladder and we were all buttoned up — mercifully, we never had to do a taxi exercise with the nuke thermal radiation curtains in, though one of our Wing Kings was making noise he wanted to do so for more “realistic” EWO/Launch taxi exercises. Such were the ‘good old Cold War Days’….:-)

      Comment by Rodger Burkley (aka, "PACK44N") | February 4, 2016 | Reply

      • Rodger,

        Again, working from a fading memory, but I do remember that when I started pulling alert (Mar 1968, at Barksdale) the thermal curtains were installed on sliding windows as well as the window just behind them. I remember the first thing you did when getting in the airplane was open the sliding window so you could see better. It was an “accident waiting to happen”. Don’t remember exactly when they decided to not put then in the sliding window, but my guess is sometime in late ’69 or early ’70 as they were no longer in them when I got to Robins in late ’70. (Spent late mid ’69 to mid ’70 in SEA). After the LCK accident I think they took the curtains out of the window behind the sliding one to enhance visibility.

        Comment by rofcibc | February 4, 2016

      • Hi Rodger, I’m curious about the thermal radiation curtains you mention in your post. Based on your tone, I gather they were a pain to install? Can you describe the material and how they attached to the windows?

        Thank you,


        Comment by David Klug | October 4, 2017

  80. Was the boom operator ever found?

    Comment by Adams boom | October 8, 2015 | Reply

  81. My uncle Joe Nellis was the Navigator on 63-7990 crashed on takeoff going from Dyess to Hickam HI Jan 31, 1989. Just wondering why it missed the list above? Never gained altitude…crash blamed on failure of water injection system…19 Souls.

    Comment by Scott | October 27, 2015 | Reply

  82. A number of people have visited this site after I posted mine nearly four years ago I know this is a very long shot ,my dads kc 135a 571424 crashed on landing at Amarillo Air Force base on May 17 1966 I would like any picture of that aircraft to cherish or to talk to anyone who knew anything of this I was so young I still remember seeing my dad alive for the last time since then there is nothing a huge huge void I hope someone sees this my e mail is my dad was the nav maj rh doughty thank you anyone for reading this

    Comment by Stephen doughty | January 3, 2016 | Reply

  83. As a former, long-time SAC and AMC KC-135 flyer with both Active Duty and Guard units (NHANG/Pease ANGB) I — like the rest of you “tanker toads” out there love Boeing’s Stratotanker. So here’s my feeble attempt to acknowledge and honor this great aircraft….and crews, support personal and…of course….Boeing. I submit it for the readership’s/tanker community’s reading pleasure and approval… 🙂

    Comment by Rodger Burkley (aka, "PACK44N") | February 4, 2016 | Reply

  84. The KC-135 that crashed at Minot in Jan 16 1968, crashed because the General that was flying the aircraft was not familiar with that model of KC-135 and over rotated on take off. All flyers were killed on impact except for 1 person who died later from his burns. 1968 was a bad year at Minot as we also lost 2 B-52H’s that year.

    Comment by Jules Comeyne | March 5, 2016 | Reply

    • Saying that MGEN Eisenhart “was not familiar with that model of KC-135” is disingenuous. He was a “bright star” in the SAC senior leadership, was well regarded as a pilot and commander, and routinely flew KC-135As. He flew the EC-135C LOOKING GLASS, which has the EXACT same rotation pitch as the KC-135A. There was also a KC-135A IP in the right seat. Bad weather eliminated the visual cues to cross-check the rotation, so neither pilot understood the immediate danger. The issue of over rotation was fleet wide. On 17 July 1967 a highly experienced IP over rotated KC-135R 59-1465 at Offutt AFB, killing one. This long-term problem was accentuated by the 1968 Minot crash, prompting the USAF to develop and install the FD-109 flight director (the French bought something else). Similarly, the issue of his rank as an O-8 is irrelevant. I’ve flown with outstanding generals and total idiots (ever take away a jet from a 3-button trying to aerobrake a KC-135?). We may know *what* happened in any given accident, but we still try to find an explanation for *why* it happened. The issue of familiarity has nothing to do with either of these.

      Comment by Robert Hopkins (@CobraBall3) | March 5, 2016 | Reply

      • There’s more to this regarding the over rotation.

        The “old” (pre FD109) attitude indicator had an issue where it quit working, just froze in position, but NO WARNING flags. Unless there was an electrical failure the warning “OFF” flag would not be seen. Had to do with a physical mechanical failure. From that came an extra pre flight procedure that had the pilots rotate the “centering” knob a specific amount each way (up/down) and observe just how much the actual instrument “moved”.

        When I left the KC135 to go to C7s in SEA they didn’t have the FD109, when I got back in 1970 they were starting to show up in the fleet. One of the best, if not THE best improvement made on the KC135. Yes, many followed and now we have big high bypass engines, glass cockpits and no navigators. But the “FADARAGA” system was the BEST. All you had to do was fly the Burger King into the McDonalds! Came from the miniature airplane symbol was Orange (Burger King) and the command bars were Yellow (McDonalds) It also had the “accelerated climb” profile which allowed you to pull up the flaps in the initial climbout (above 200 AGL) which was a real benefit on a heavyweight wet takeoff! Instead of dragging all that drag up to 1000 AGL, you were clean by 500 AGL and had 40 more knots airspeed when the water ran out!

        Comment by rofcibc | March 5, 2016

      • You are absolutely correct. The AIB could not determine if the ADI had malfunctioned on takeoff (due to impact damage), but noted that was a possibility. It did note that IMC conditions hindered the pilots’ ability to recognize the over rotation.

        BTW, seems a lot of 135 folks had C-7 experience in SEA. My SQ/CC and a fellow AC were both there around that time. My dad flew them in 67, but he was from bombers.

        Comment by Robert Hopkins (@CobraBall3) | March 5, 2016

      • Little program in the 60s called “Palace Chase”. “Palace” was the word SAC used for various personnel programs. Palace Chase was put in place so SAC, vice ARPC would pick and choose who was going to SEA and when. I got to Barksdale in March 1968 as a newly minted KC135 copilot. In May 1969, 14 months later I was off to Sewart AFB for C7 school and thence to Vung Tau AAF for my SEA tour. On my return in 1970 I got a “choice”…what SAC base did I want? Mother SAC didn’t give up her offspring willingly! I stayed in SAC until SAC went away, then retired. 12 years active duty, 16 in the Reserves, with the first nine as a ART. Started in tankers, ended in tankers, albeit the KC10. Even managed to slip in 16 years with Delta Air Lines. All in all, a rewarding and fulfilling career in aviation.

        One correction to my previous post. It was Howard Johnsons that was the Orange, not Burger King.

        When you get old you lose two things, memory is first, I forget the second!

        Comment by rofcibc | March 6, 2016

    • Saying that MGEN Eisenhart “was not familiar with that model of KC-135” is disingenuous. He was a “bright star” in the SAC senior leadership, was well regarded as a pilot and commander, and routinely flew KC-135As. He routinely flew the EC-135C LOOKING GLASS, which has the EXACT same rotation pitch as the KC-135A. There was also a KC-135A IP in the right seat. Bad weather eliminated the visual cues to cross-check the rotation, so neither pilot understood the immediate danger. The issue of over rotation was fleet wide. On 17 July 1967 a highly experienced IP over rotated KC-135R 59-1465 at Offutt AFB, killing one. This long-term problem was accentuated by the 1968 Minot crash, prompting the USAF to develop and install the FD-109 flight director (the French bought something else). Similarly, the issue of his rank as an O-8 is irrelevant. I’ve flown with outstanding generals and total idiots (ever take away a jet from a 3-button trying to aerobrake a KC-135?). We may know *what* happened in any given accident, but we still try to find an explanation for *why* it happened. Neither of these had anything to do with familiarity.

      Comment by Robert Hopkins (@CobraBall3) | March 5, 2016 | Reply

  85. Excellent closing! And yes….keep Howard Johnson in the Golden Arches….

    Comment by Barry Cohen, UPT Class 81-05, KC-135 | March 6, 2016 | Reply

    • The corollary to that is “Got a good memory, just short!”

      Oh the flying subject, the KC10 was equipped with the Collins “single cue” system of Howard Johnson and McDonalds, vice the dual cue system Sperry used. The latter I got used to as Delta Air Lines used the dual cue. I discovered the transition from one to the other quite easy. I had the opportunity to fly both “big” (KC10) and “little” (MD88/90) Douglas products when I was flying for the USAF and Delta at the same time.

      Comment by rofcibc | March 6, 2016 | Reply

      • I’m guessing that you know Bill Doneshefsky. We were both part of 81-05 Hawk and Mustang Flight at Columbus……And AFROTC Summer Camp at Tyndall in 1977!

        Go Red Sox!

        Comment by Barry Cohen, UPT Class 81-05, KC-135 | March 6, 2016

    • Barry, don’t remember that name. By 1981 I was in the KC10s at Barksdale. I went through AFROTC Summer Training Unit (aka “Camp) at Bunker Hill AFB (now Grissom) in 1964. Can’t believe that’s over half a century ago!

      Comment by Jon Mickley | July 10, 2016 | Reply

      • Hi Jon,

        Thank you for your response. Got to fly in T-33B’s and a C-141A at our “camp”. Very cool experience al the way around. My 2nd home town was FWB (1st was D.C.), so the training location worked out nicely. Does the name Steve German ring any bells? He was my CCTS CP instructor at Castle. Great person and a fine instructor. :O)


        Comment by Barry Cohen | July 10, 2016

      • LIB! I certainly do remember Steve German. I have an old and faded list of all the students I had at Castle when I was a CCTS IP out there, ’73-’78. He was in class 75-13 as a copilot and went to Beale. Have a picture of him on a house boat I had on Lake McClure, up on the Merced River. Did not know he went on to become a CCTS IP himself. I left there in 1978 and transferred to the Reserves as a full time ART at Grissom AFB.

        Small world!

        Comment by Jon Mickley | July 11, 2016

      • Hi Jon,

        The aviation world is amazingly small.



        Comment by Barry Cohen | July 11, 2016

      • Have a great summer!

        Comment by Barry Cohen | July 11, 2016

      • I gave up on 60 foot houseboats when I left Castle. Now have a 40 foot rollin’ condo motorhome!

        Comment by Jon Mickley | July 11, 2016

      • Well, if you ever roll through the Boston area, please let me know.

        That was some houseboat!

        Go Sox,


        Comment by Barry Cohen | July 11, 2016

  86. I was stationed at Grissom between 1976-80. Does anyone know how I can contact Captain Barker who was an instructor for KC-135’s and conducted many funeral details? Thank you, Chris Chapman

    Comment by Chris Chapman | May 30, 2016 | Reply

  87. Try Saba search

    Comment by Neal | May 31, 2016 | Reply

    • To the gentleman who was looking for someone. Sorry I hit the wrong key. The website is zaba search, with z

      Comment by Neal | May 31, 2016 | Reply

  88. I recently visited the crash site of KC-135 60-0352 that went down on Mt Kit Carson in WA State on 10-Sep-62. I remember seeing the memorial while stationed at Ellsworth many years back. GPS coordinates are a must when looking. Here are a few images,

    Comment by Darin | June 26, 2016 | Reply

    • First two pictures are NOT of any part off a KC135, or any other aircraft. They are a single cylinder motor that appears to have been on a Cushman motor scooter of the 50s, and 60s era. See my comments on the images as to why I think this.

      Comment by Jon Mickley | June 27, 2016 | Reply

  89. My dad had just retired in March of ’73 and had been a MX officer in the tanker unit at Lockbourne when the ground collision occurred. He took me out to the flightline to see both aircraft – an event I recall vividly since it happened on my birthday. I have never seen this in print, but Dad told me only one air crew member died in the KC-135. Another crew member who had egressed the aircraft was running down the taxiway and was killed by a responding fire truck. His words stuck with me and it was something I remembered in my 28-year Air Force flying career.

    Comment by Don Harvey | July 9, 2016 | Reply

    • let me say this the kc rc snd ec 135 was anything but safe 77 accidents with a loss of 380 plus lives i didnt understand when i was 7 why my dads plane crashed after years of digging i found out a great deal ans a number of aircraft that crashed under the same circumstances .
      i wish i knew then what i know now those flyers all of them did their jobs i still miss my dad fifty years later

      Comment by stephen r doughty | July 9, 2016 | Reply

      • Stephen R Doughty, don’t know what your experience is in a KC135 but I flew then for 14 of my 28 years, have over 4000 hours with 3000 of it IP time, including four years as a CCTS Instructor Pilot.

        The “accident rate” is a function of hours flown in a specific airplane. Consider the 135 fleet (all models) has been flying since 1955, 77 accidents/380 fatalities (don’t know where you got those numbers) has to be considered against the total number of hours flown by that fleet, over those nearly 60 years. “…anything but safe…” is an opinion, no more, no less, and one you have the right to express. But, I would opine that unless you can back it up with (a) your experience in the 135, or (b) accidents/flying hours statistics, it’s just that, an opinion.

        As for me, I’d opine it was a damn fine aircraft and I never, ever took off in one with any doubt that I would also land.

        I might offer up this as an example of an “accident” (fortunately no one was injured). KC135 at Beal AFB, shooting touch & go landings in the wee hours of the morning, hits a herd of cattle (yes you read that right…a herd of cattle) on the runway and the airplane is destroyed. Yet in the world of statistics, that “counts” as a class A (aircraft destroyed) accident.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | July 10, 2016

      • good morning sir,
        thank you for your reply .firstvof all i need to say this it was never my intention to offend anyone,
        second after my dad was killed flying that aircraft i started to research every single loss of ecery one of those planes for 60 years nearly all involved a loss of life .
        thats what i was talking about the attrition of those aircraft my dada was one of them,five crewman died that day 44 died on sep 11’62 cfit on mt kit carson the list goes on.
        please accept my apology sir i never flew it i was in the marine corps over the years there was that many accidents and that many lives lost,i made my point the wrong way i would have to concede that its long service life and clarified by your knowledge ofvits oprational record has been remarkable sir ,accept my apology i would like to hear from you again thats up to you,with respect,
        stephen r doughty

        Comment by stephen r doughty | July 10, 2016

      • The vast majority, if not all CFIT accidents result in fatalities to all on board, simply because as a “controlled flight” in essence you have a perfectly good airplane that is flown into the ground, and the associated forces result in few, if any survivors. It is, in most, if not all cases, a sudden and violent event of short, nearly instantaneous time frame.

        In many instances a KC135 would have quite a few people on board as it did serve as a “transport” as well as a “tanker”.

        Further, as with all “transport” type aircraft, without ejection seats, getting out of an airplane that crashes is just not an option. There are a few cases where crews have “bailed out” of a KC135, but to do that the airplane had to be under control, and in stable flight.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | July 11, 2016

      • Steven R. Doughty,

        This is a link to the site that lists aircraft accident data for most USAF aircraft. While the KC135 is not specifically listed, the C135 series is. Each “chart” is in .pdf format and can be downloaded and opened with Adobe Reader, a free program.

        While the charts are “busy” as they contain a mountain of data, they do give an idea of the safety record of each one. It’s all based on 100,000 hours of flight time.

        You will see the total hours flown by the C135 fleet was a tick over 15 million hours, second only to the 19 million of the C130. The B52 by comparison only has flown 7.8 million and the C5 2.6 million. This is due to the fact that both of those “fleets” are much smaller than the C130 & C134 fleets.

        I only looked at the C135, B52, C141, C5, C130, and KC10.

        I did find that this data does not include “ground mishap” fatalities, as it does not include the KC10 that blew up on the ramp, killing a maintenance troop working inside.

        Comment by Jon Mickley | July 11, 2016

    • Don Harvey That accident is covered on this site. There were several factors that led to it, one of which was the way a KC135 on EWO alert was configured at that time. It had “flash curtains” installed in all but the two front pilot’s windows. These were to protect the crew from the flash of nuclear explosions they would probably encounter on the way to their EWO refueling after a launch.

      As a result the visibility to the side of the aircraft was basically non existent.

      After that crash, the curtains on the pilots sliding side windows were no longer in place while on the ground on EWO alert.

      Comment by Jon Mickley | July 10, 2016 | Reply

  90. Check out FB page named Tanker Losses. Chris Hector wrote a book covering many, if not all Tanker mishaps. The site has some original news stories and pictures.

    Comment by Lee | March 30, 2017 | Reply

  91. 56-3616 did not go down in 1967. It was in Warner Robins Georgia in1969 when I left there. I was there from 1966-1969.

    Comment by Earl Wells | June 13, 2017 | Reply

  92. I was a firefighter at Carswell and fought it. It was very foggy and I was on patrol and was less than a mile from it when it crashed and I did not see or hear it.

    Comment by Robert Adams | August 19, 2017 | Reply

  93. There was a crash in Guam a kc135 based at turner afb at albany ga

    Comment by Donald Shirley | January 27, 2018 | Reply

  94. I was a navigator assigned to the 43AREFS at the time of the crash. I will never forget that day. I was on alert at the time and in the 1300 hours weekly flying safety meeting along with the rest of the tanker alert force when the 135 went down shortly after the start of the meeting. We heard what sounded like an aircraft flying too low. One of the booms from the 92AREFS ran to the window and said she saw flames. We all ran out and saw the aircraft in flames and belching smoke. The alert force was immediately placed on restricted alert. I still remember driving past one the engines while it sizzled. The pilot team put the plane right where it needed to go or else a lot of other people would be dead right now (both military and civilian). No mention has been made of the part Col. James Meir played in this “disaster just waiting to happen”. I remember distinctly a meeting Meir had with the Alert Force in the bomber pad in which he was kicking around names for what would become the Thunderhawks. I do not recall the date. He eventually became a two star general, lucky guy. I have no doubt he was sweating bullets during the investigation. Col. Harris was the wing king after Meir and at the time of the crash. Great guy. Lt Col. Bob Dawson was the CC of the 43rd at the time. Great guy and solid as a rock. I do not recall if anyone was assigned any blame for the crash but it certainly was not Chain or Meir. I can’t imagine how the bomber crew felt as they landed after the crash. Rest in peace gentleman.

    Comment by Bill Cobern | April 2, 2018 | Reply

    • Please note that the above comment pertains to the 1987 tanker crash at Fairchild AFB.

      Comment by Bill Cobern | April 2, 2018 | Reply

  95. My condolences to all that have been affected by all these accidents. My father Lt. Harold Helmick KC-135 (57-1513) navigator was killed 15 Oct 59 while a B-52F attempted to refuel both were from Columbus Miss If anyone was at Columbus AFB at the tine of the accident
    please email me at It is due to professionalism and dedication of air and ground crews that make potential hazards manageble for flying gas tanks to be routine

    Comment by | June 16, 2018 | Reply

  96. 16-Jan-65 57-1442 A Clinton-Sherman Suspected hard-over rudder at Wichita: Aircraft actually had 2 engines fail, both on the right side. Pilot attempted to return to McConnell, under direction of military ATC, but lost control at low altitude and crashed near 17th and Piatt in Wichita.

    Comment by Bill Olenick | December 21, 2018 | Reply

  97. 23 Feb 1963 56-3597. Says Castle but they were at Eielson when crash occurred. My uncle was AC Commander, Maj. C Harris. I have gotten some of the heavily redacted Accident report and the mission report is a 60 yr TS lock due to Chrome Dome mission. I’m looking for any info such as News Paper info of photos from the time. I am retiring Airline Captain and finally have some time to dedicate to looking into my Uncles crash. Thank you for all you service as my time in Air Force was spent on the ground thanks to my less than stellar vision test!

    Comment by Glen Ellis | October 15, 2019 | Reply

  98. We lost an engine on take off at pease afb 1970 aircraft exploded 1 fireman killed I was headed to hickam on a hush hush mission. I can’t find any record of it. All the crew survived 2 hours later I was headed to hickam. Got any answers? Master Sargent John Riley (ret.)

    Comment by John riley | March 9, 2020 | Reply

    • There were no airframe losses of any type from any base in 1970, so I doubt the airplane “exploded”. Possible PHIK mission was BURNING LIGHT support. Any other details you might recall?

      Comment by Robert S Hopkins, III | March 10, 2020 | Reply

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