|F-101B VOODOO 57-401
APRIL 11, 1961
BALD MOUNTAIN, DEDHAM
75TH FIGHTER INTERCEPTOR SQ
DOW AFB, BANGOR ME
|At 12:22 AM, two alert F-101Bs were scrambled from Dow Air Force Base to intercept an unidentified aircraft over New Brunswick. At takeoff, a spring freezing rainstorm was moving in over the base and there was a light drizzle with a 500 foot ceiling. Both crews had participated in a multii-day operational readiness inspection (ORI) with very little sleep. They had just turned in about a few hours before the klaxon sounded in the alert hanger. Shortly after getting airborne and establishing datalink and verbal communication with the SAGE control center in Topsham, the crews were advised that the unknown aircraft had been identified as a SAC aircraft inbound to Loring Air Force Base. Captain Vernal Johnson, in the lead ship requested a vector back to Dow, after discussing the weather situation there with the SAGE controller.
The first aircraft landed at Dow, but slid into the barrier wire due to an icy runway. At that moment the DOW TACAN glide slope function went out. DOW RAPCON began bringing 401 down using a non-precision approach. About 12 miles out, cleared to an altitude of 2200 feet, Dow RAPCON lost contact with the aircraft and SAGE lost their datalink to 401.
The aircraft had impacted 1200 foot Bald Mountain, 1000 feet below the intended altitude at that point of the approach, killing the Pilot, Captain Vernal Johnson, and Radar Intercept Officer 1st Lieutenant Edward Masaiitis Jr.
An investigation concluded that the field elevation had been incorrectly set by three of the four crew when the two alert aircraft were "cocked" in the alert hanger. This 1000' error went undetected as crewmembers acknowledged only the last two digits of altimeter settings given over the radio. Assignment of alert crews without adequate rest was listed as a contributing factor.
|These two Bangor Daily News photographs show the crash site on the day of the accident. The aircraft clipped trees for several hundred feet before plowing into the hillside 200 feet from the peak. The photo on the left shows the 100 foot wide swath cut through the trees as the wreckage continued upslope after impact. This is still visible today as a low spot in the trees. The photo on the right shows the rear fuselage where it came to rest near the peak.|
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