Road Trip – A B-52 Bomber Crash Site
The date was January 24,1963, a bright sunny but, cold winter day. At12:11 pm, a flight crew of 9 members took off from Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, MA. The B-52c Stratofortress was embarking on training practice called "Terrain Avoidance Flight Practice" something that was used to avoid radar systems employed by the Russian military at the time. The training involves a "hugging of the land" in dangerously low altitudes but this crew was the cream of the crop. There were working to perfect the technique on all types of terrain and weather.
A few hours into the training flight, there was a problem, the plane experienced strong turbulence, so strong in fact that vertical stabilizer ripped off the plane. With the lost of of such vital equipment, the B-52 soon began to nose dive. The order to abandon came from the pilot as the aircraft could not be leveled. Three people were able to eject. The six remaining crew had no option to abandon the plane, it was too low to parachute out, and there was simply no time. Moments later the aircraft crashed into the west side of Elephant Mountain, just outside of Greenville, Maine at 2:52 p.m.
One of the ejected crew members suffered fatal injuries, striking a tree about a mile away from the crash site. Another survived but landed in a tree 30 feet above the ground. The only other member to survive, hit the snow-covered ground a few thousand feet from the wreckage suffering a fractured skull and broken ribs. All other crew members died on impact.
This crash site, is now a memorial to those who perished during that training flight on a cold wintery day in 1963. The crash debris is still resting where it fell, scattered across the woods. Something about it just reaches into your soul. I can only describe the feeling as mournfully peaceful. The site is located just a few miles in the woods, which is accessible by dirt road, 4x4 suggested. Personally, I found the site to be completely humbling. A must see if you ever find yourself up around Moosehead Lake.