November 25, 1958
Loring Air Force Base, Limestone
42nd Air Refueling Squadron, 42nd Bomb Wing
|Crew T-46 took off at 0445 on an "Operation Headstart" refueling mission. Headstart was the 42nd Bomb Wing's operation that "proved" the concept of airborne nuclear alert with B-52 aircraft for SAC. Before take-off, the crew was notified of a no-notice Standardization Board evaluation, so in addition to the crew of 4, there was an Instructor Pilot, Instructor Navigator, and Instructor Boom Operator aboard.
Upon returning to the Loring AFB area, the aircraft was cleared to make a GCA approach from the south for a touch and go landing. The aircraft touched down about 2500 feet down the runway, applied power and became airborne at about the 7000 foot mark. Because of the aircraft's weight, air temperature and the forces involved in a touch and go landing, the Pilot got the tanker airborne in a condition where there was a 35 knot gap between adequate lift for take-off and adequate airflow over the ailerons for roll authority. The aircraft rolled to the right, striking the Number 4 engine which failed due to fuel control unit damage and jamming the right aileron in a 5 degree up position.
The aircraft entered a nose high, right wing low attitude and cartwheeled into the woods about 1000 feet from the runway. It broke into several major sections and burned. The Instructior Navigator and Instructor Boom Operator were able to egress the burning wreckage but the Instructor Navigator died several weeks later as a result of his burns.
The investigation cited issues with the KC-135A Flight Manual that did not address the "window" in which the aircraft could become airborne in a touch and go without roll control, the Pilot's inability to take proper action to deal with the loss of Number 4 engine thrust, and the Instructor Pilot not occupying a front seat, with access to controls, during a touch and go landing as required by SAC regulations.
Killed in this accident were: Captain John Eifollla, Pilot; 1Lt Donald Gladding, Copilot; Major John Brown, Navigator; Captain Bernard Morgan, Instructor Pilot; Captain Herman Dosenbach, Instructor Navigator; and TSgt Ronald Champion, Boom Operator. TSgt Charles Holsclaw, Instructor Boom Operator survived the crash.
This was the first of six major KC-135A accidents at Loring AFB.
This crash occurred just 2 days after a B-47B crash at Loring and just a few yards away.
|Accident report photo used to locate this crash site. Note the clear area in the woods just north of the "Crash Site" arrow. This is the wreckage of the B-47B crash two days earlier.|
|Close up aerial photo from the 1958 report. Note the Caribou Air Force Station, aka Site Easy, North River Depot or later as the Loring Weapons Storage Area in the background.|
|Investigation photo of the tail section on the east end of the crash site. The aircraft cartwheeled, breaking into several large sections, which were quickly engulfed in flames from the 16,000 pounds of jet fuel still on board at the time of the crash.|
|After walking through it several times and not realizing it, I finally figured out that this area is the crash site. The large sections of wreckage were removed after the crash and the site was bulldozed. Wreckage left at the site is limited to a few pieces scattered in the woods around the perimeter and some pieces sticking out of the dozer piles.|
|Two views of a piece of aircraft skin found just beyond the bulldozed area. Note the tension fracture.|
|Wreckage visible on the surface of the dozer piles. Examination of the piece on the right indicates that it is one of the cabin doors.|
|The steel reinforcment leads me to believe that this is part of an engine nacelle.||Tubing|
|Captain Morgan and Captain Dosenbach were the two Standardization Board crew members who died as a result of this accident. The crew member on the right is believed to be TSgt Holsclaw, the sole survivor. Photo courtesy of Jim Dosenbach.|