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Thread: KC135 Accident - Walker AFB (near Roswell NM) Feb 3rd, 1960

  1. #16
    Pacific Historian syscom3's Avatar
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    Good info Vince.

    "Pilot to copilot..... what are those mountain goats doing up here in the clouds?"

  2. #17
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    I was very surprised to find this crash when I googled WalkerAFB. My father was a navigator on the B-52, 40th Bomb Sqdn. I was 14 at the time and remember the crash. The weather was terrible that day with strong winds. I just remember seeing the Base Chaplin along with a couple other officers make that dreaded visit to the family of one of the flight crew members down the street. Visited the base a couple of years ago and drove past where the hanger once stood. There was a 747 and several other aircraft parked on the site undergoing some restoration/salvage work. Vince, you are right, Google Earth shows the flightline where the hanger stood. Stands out because there were 3 or 4 similar hangers with a gap between them and a similar foundation. That was a very, very sad day...

    Duncan Monroe
    Air Force Brat
    Walker AFB
    1952-1967
    Great site! Just joined

  3. #18
    Senior Member vikingBerserker's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing that, and welcome aboard Duncan.



  4. #19
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    Similar experience. B-47 crashes on base at Pease AFB, 1960-1963, 100th Bomb Wing. We lived at 31 Birch Drive in base housing. On two occasions there were terrible explosions and the night sky lit up. On both occasions my Pop was due home from what they called Reflex Missions to Brize Norton AB, England. They were sent out and came home in a Vee formation of three aircraft. Both times my Mom shot to the phone and called base operations to see who crashed. My Pop wasn't one of them but she would begin to cry because she learned which of her friends lost their husbands. We, as kids (I was 8 years old) learned which of our friends lost their Pops and knew they would move away. My Mom absolutely hated the military never saying one kind word about it. That early jet age killed many of her friend's husbands due to accidents and she lived in constant fear of my Pop being one of the statistics. Twenty years of living in fear like that are seldom chronicled in military journals. Military wives and families are different kinds of veterans, but veterans nonetheless.

    There were subsequent investigations of the above crashes, which I learned the results of years later from my Pop, with the key findings that, 1) Fast jet bombers required the skills of fighter pilots with regard to reaction times and keeping their heads out in front of the (high speed) airplanes. Transitioning reciprocating engine pilots should be transitioned in T-33s before moving to the new bombers and, 2) At the time pilots were ordered to follow the commands of tower controllers who were not trained in the controller procedures for that particular high performance jet bomber, their higher approach speeds and slower power (turbine spool up times) recovery for aborting. A controller directed one aircraft onto the "runway" on one fogged-in night. The "runway" was, in reality, the base golf course. IOW, it crashed short of the runway killing all 3 crew members. The investigation determined that due to the conditions of that night the pilot could not have recovered.

    I remember seeing the burned out wreckage of one in the base golf course the morning after.

  5. #20
    Senior Member vikingBerserker's Avatar
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    Wow, that's a great story Sweb! and God bless the spouses of the Military, there is no harder job.



  6. #21
    Senior Member Aaron Brooks Wolters's Avatar
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    The wives and families of serving military past and present are seldom thought of it seems and they should be for they are also giving a lot. Thank you for the post Sweb and Duncan.

  7. #22
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    I was stationed at Walker as a Jet Engine mechanic assigned to the 6th Field Maintenance Squadron and was discharged the morning that this happened. Just as I was clearing the main gate that morning in my car I heard the explosion and could see the smoke from the fire in my rear view mirror. I believe the hanger you see in the above pictures was where I worked as it was the biggest hanger in that area and housed all engine maintenence personel. I was assigned to the Unit Conditioning section and our office/work room was on the outside of the hanger adjacent to the aircraft parking area. I believe the small entrance you can see in the first photo is where we would go in and out of the hanger.

  8. #23
    Senior Member vikingBerserker's Avatar
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    Wow, what a way to end the day!
    Last edited by vikingBerserker; 06-04-2013 at 10:32 AM.



  9. #24
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    Was the photo of the hangar crash scene the "big" hangar at the west end of the field that could accomodate B52's ? DCM and DCMT located in the hangar ?

    Many thanks..

  10. #25
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    Firefighter

    I wondered if anyone remembered the KC-135 incident. I was a firefighter when that happened. We had two shifts A & B. A shift was on duty when the crash occurred. I was on B shift and we responded right away. I was at the hanger in your photo and may be one of the firefighters in the photograph. There was a firefighter named Brooks but he was known as Joel E. Brooks from South Carolina and was with us on B shift. Great article and thanks for remembering.

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by vikingBerserker View Post
    My dad spent 33 years in the USAF and was stationed at Walker AFB near Roswell NM in 1960. He was working Crash and Rescue on the Flight Line while a Pilot In Training was taking off on a training mission flying a fully loaded KC-135A Tanker with 31k gallons of aviation fuel. The official story:

    "The 6th Air Refueling Squadron, flying early-model KC-135A aircraft, was assigned to Walker AFB from 3 January 1958. On 3 February 1960, a "short-tail" (non-hydraulic-power-assisted rudder) KC-135A crashed during takeoff in strong and gusty crosswinds. The pilot failed to maintain directional control, rotated the aircraft 5-10 knots too early and the aircraft settled onto the dirt apron of the runway, shed two engines, plowed through the aircraft parking area and came to rest in an aircraft hangar. This single crash resulted in the destruction of three KC-135 aircraft and the deaths of eight military personnel"

    My dad said the Fire Dept of the town of Roswell responded open seeing the smoke as they thought the entire base was on fire. It took both them and the entire Base's Fire Dept to finally put out the fire. There were very little of the planes left. Below are the pics my dad has:
    My uncle, Major William Burke was one of the eight people killed. He was riding as an "Observation Person" with the flight crew on the plane that crashed. Regards,

    William Dollar
    Lakeland, Florida

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vince59 View Post
    I was very surprised to find this information concerning the KC-135 Crash of Feb 1960. I was a young 19 year old Airmen stationed at Walker AFB at the time of this crash. I worked in the building directly across the street from the Hanger that was hit by the KC-135. The section I worked in was the 6th Bomb Wing Supply Group. I remember the crash quite well. We all exited our building from the back side which luckily was very near the Gate entrance to the flight line. The first picture of the crash that is posted here shows what I beleive is the back side of the Hanger that faced our building. The reason I think it is the back side is that when we first consolidated all the wing supply groups from the squadron level in 1959 our part of the Wing Supply group was located in the top of that hanger. We used to climb those stairs that are shown up to our work area. After a few months we moved over to the building across the street. I have often thought that if it were not for us moving and the fact of that Hanger blocking us the KC-135 might have continued on into our old WW2 Type Wooden Building across the street. Back in 1998 I wrote the Air Force for information about this crash. They provided me with what was the actual aircraft accident investigation report. Although some of it was blacked out it was interesting to read. Walker AFB near that point had started to become a combat training base for KC-135 and B-52 crews. The pilot flying the plane that day was a student pilot with an instructor pilot plus three other crew members. The reason for the crash as I remember was that the pilot lost control during takeoff due to high crosswinds. The other KC-135's he hit before hitting the Hanger were located near or in the 6th Air Refeuling Squadron area. That was my first encounter with a magnesium fire. I can still remember the thick white smoke coming from the burning planes. I was able to locate what I think is the crash area by viewing the Roswell Industrial Air Center using Google Earth. I was also able to locate the old barracks I used to live in that is now a civilian housing area. I have some photos and a newspaper clipping from the crash that I will try to post at a later time.

    Vince

    USAF 1958-1962
    Walker AFB, NM 1959-1961
    Indian Mt. AFS, AK 1961-1962
    I was a 21 year old college student at San Jose State University in my Senior year, and my Uncle Major William Burke was flying as an "Observation Person" on the KC-135 that crashed that day. Thanks to your commentary I now have more of the details of the horrible crash. I was scheduled to fly to Pensacola Florida in June to start my Naval Aviation Training. This horrible accident changed my plans, when my mother and aunt went ballistic over the crash. Regards, William Dollar

  13. #28
    Senior Member Aaron Brooks Wolters's Avatar
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    to your uncle and his family Mr. Dollar.
    Last edited by Aaron Brooks Wolters; 04-25-2011 at 08:04 PM.

  14. #29
    Senior Member vikingBerserker's Avatar
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    A-Fricken-Men!



  15. #30
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    Art Heaney

    I am looking for information on a young airman that was stationed at Walker at that time named Arthur Heaney. I don't have a lot of information, but know he was there between 1959-1960 at least. His buddies included a big Pole named Ron (nicknamed Pollock) and Mike Durbin (?).

    Any information would be greatly appreciated!

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