plutonium trigger

List of accidents and incidents involving military aircraft, 1950-1974

This is a list of notable accidents and incidents involving military aircraft grouped by the year in which the accident or incident occurred. For more exhaustive lists, see the Aircraft Crash Record Office or the Air Safety Network

See also: List of accidents and incidents involving military aircraft, pre-1950
See also: List of accidents and incidents involving military aircraft, 1975-1999
See also: List of accidents and incidents involving military aircraft, 2000 -


  • 11 February - Twin-engine Beechcraft D-18 cargo air service aircraft flying from Dayton, Ohio to Albuquerque, New Mexico, crashed four miles W of West Mesa Airport with a pilot and two AEC security guards aboard. Plane was making an approach to a landing strip when it encountered a cloud and broke off the approach. While circling around the mesa atop which the airstrip was located, it hit a steep slope in an upright position. Completely demolished by the ensuing impact and fire, killing all three men aboard, the classified cargo of 792 HE detonator units in 22 boxes was destroyed - salvaged from the wreckage. As there was no evidence of sabotage, and since none of the detonators appeared to be missing, the incident was not reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
  • 13 February - A U.S. Air Force B-36B-15-CF, 44-92075, in transit from Eielson AFB, Alaska to Carswell AFB, Texas, loses three of six engines, suffers icing. To lighten aircraft, crew jettisons Mark 4 nuclear bomb casing over the Pacific Ocean from 8,000 feet. High explosives detonate on contact, large shockwave seen, 17 crew later bails out safely over Princess Royal Island, but five (the first to depart the bomber) are not recovered and are assumed to have come down in water and drowned.

name="Gibson"> Gibson, James N. Nuclear Weapons of the United States - An Illustrated History . Atglen, Pennsylvania.: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1996, Library of Congress card no. 96-67282, ISBN 0-7643-0063-6, page 61. Aircraft flies 210 miles with no crew, impacting in the Skeena Mountains at 6,000 feet, E of Stewart, British Columbia. Wreckage found in September 1953. See also 1950 British Columbia B-36 crash.

  • 15 February - de Havilland DH 108, VW120, flown by RAE's OC, Squadron Leader J.S.R. Muller-Rowland, enters steep dive from 27,000 feet (8230 m), breaking up around 10,000 feet (3048 m) with fatal result. Wreckage comes down at Birkhill, near Bletchley.
  • 22 February - On its 102nd flight, the USAF XF-89, 46-678, crashed on Rosecrans Avenue, Hawthorne, California after making a high-speed low pass for Air Force officials at Hawthorne Airport (Northrop Field). Right horizontal stabilizer peeled off, aircraft disintegrated, throwing pilot Charles Tucker clear, parachuted safely, but flight engineer Arthur Turton died in mishap. Aircraft impacted five miles from factory, setting alight a Standard Oil below-ground storage tank. Cause was found to be high-frequency, low-amplitude flutter of both the vertical and horizontal stabilizers.
  • 22 March - Fuerza Aérea Argentina Avro Lincoln B.Mk.II, B-019, c/n 1495, lost in storm over Tierra del Fuego, eleven killed. Wreckage finally found on a glacier on the Chilean side of Tierra del Fuego in 1983.
  • 5 April - Martin JRM-3 Mars flying boat, BuNo 76822, c/n 9266, "Marshall Mars", destroyed by fire near Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands - force landed in Keehi Lagoon, Oahu with engine fire. Crew were rescued after which aircraft exploded.
  • 11 April - A USAF B-29 on a routine flight crashes into mountain three minutes after take-off from Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, killing 13 crew. One fully-assembled bomb casing (probably a Mark 4 nuclear bomb) on board is completely shattered when triggers explode. A fuel capsule, carried separately, is recovered.

name="Gibson"> Gibson, James N. Nuclear Weapons of the United States - An Illustrated History . Atglen, Pennsylvania.: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1996, Library of Congress card no. 96-67282, ISBN 0-7643-0063-6, page 56.

  • 1 May - Third and final de Havilland DH 108, TG283, crash near Hartley Wintney, Hants, during stall tests, kills replacement RAE OC, Squadron Leader George E.C. Genders. Aircraft entered uncontrollable spin, pilot bails out, parachute fails.
  • 13 June - RAF Cierva Air Horse helicopter, VZ724, (at the time, the largest helicopter type flown), breaks up in flight and crashes, killing all three crew, Squadron Leader F.J. "Jeep" Cable, test pilot Alan Marsh and flight test engineer J. Unsworth.
  • 13 July - A USAF B-50D-110-BO, 49-267, of the 97th Bomb Wing out of Biggs AFB, Texas, carrying a nuclear weapon bomb casing (but no fuel capsule), stalls at 7,000 feet at about 1454 hrs. EST, crashes between Lebanon, Ohio and Mason, Ohio, killing four officers and twelve airmen.

name="Gibson"> Gibson, James N. Nuclear Weapons of the United States - An Illustrated History . Atglen, Pennsylvania.: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1996, Library of Congress card no. 96-67282, ISBN 0-7643-0063-6, page 58. No radio communication was received before the crash, and although all crew wore parachutes, none bailed out. HE in bomb casing explodes on impact leaving crater 200X25 feet, explosion heard for 25 miles. One account states that the weather was clear, but Joe Baugher reports that bomber was in a storm system.

name="Gibson"> Gibson, James N. Nuclear Weapons of the United States - An Illustrated History . Atglen, Pennsylvania.: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1996, Library of Congress card no. 96-67282, ISBN 0-7643-0063-6, page 56. The explosion also injures 173 civilians and causes extensive property damage to nearby mobile homes. The official explanation for the size of the explosion was that the nuclear bomb's high-explosive trigger detonated, causing a chain reaction that triggered ten to twelve conventional 500-pound bombs also aboard the B-29. The USAF claims that the nuclear bomb's fuel capsule was aboard a different aircraft, but admits that the bomb casing contained depleted uranium used as ballast, and later orders a public health assessment of the crash site.

  • 10 November - A USAF B-50 on a routine weapons ferrying flight between Goose Bay, Labrador and its home base at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, loses two of four engines. To maintain altitude it jettisons empty Mark 4 nuclear bomb casing just before 1600 hrs. at 10,500 feet above the St. Lawrence River near the town of St. Alexandre-de-Kamouraska, about 90 miles NE of Quebec, Canada. HE in the casing observed detonating upon impact in the middle of the twelve-mile-wide river, blast felt for 25 miles. Official Air Force explanation at the time is that the Superfortress released three conventional 500-pound HE bombs.

name="Gibson"> Gibson, James N. Nuclear Weapons of the United States - An Illustrated History . Atglen, Pennsylvania.: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1996, Library of Congress card no. 96-67282, ISBN 0-7643-0063-6, page 58.


  • 14 March - RAF Coastal Command Avro Lancaster GR.3, TX264, 'BS-D', of 120 Squadron Kinloss, off-course in high winds and heavy overcast during a night-time navigation exercise between the Faroes and Rockall, crashes into Beinn Eighe's Triple Buttress at ~0200 hrs., just 15 feet below the top of the 2,850 foot westernmost gully of the buttress known as Coire Mhic Fhercair in the Scottish Highlands, killing all eight crew. Wreck not found until 17 March, crew remains not recovered until 30 March. Due to remoteness of the crashsite the wreckage is still there.
  • 23 March - A United States Air Force C-124 Globemaster II, 49-244, c.n. 43173, of the 2nd Strategic Support Squadron, missing over the Atlantic Ocean; wreckage found near Ireland. 53 died, including Gen. Paul Cullen and his command staff.
  • 13 June - RAF English Electric Canberra B.1, VN850, bailed to Rolls-Royce for Avon engine tests. Crashed on approach to Hucknall with engine fire, coming down just outside field perimeter, killing Rolls-Royce test pilot R.B. Leach. This was the first loss of a Canberra.
  • 23 June - Second Avro CF-100 Mk.1, 19102, 'FB-K',crashes on the day it is handed over to the RCAF.
  • 30 June - The second prototype Republic XF-91 Thunderceptor, 46-681, had an engine failure during takeoff from Edwards AFB, California. Republic Aviation test pilot Carl Bellinger escaped from the aircraft just as the tail melted off; total flight time was a mere ninety seconds. By the time fire apparatus arrived, driving seven miles across the dry lake bed, the tail section had been reduced to ashes.
  • 23 August - Bell X-1D, 48-1386, suffers fire/explosion internally while being carried aloft for its first flight, jettisoned from mothership, impacting on Rogers Dry Lakebed, Edwards AFB, California. Joe Baugher cites loss date of 22 August, as does FlyPast article by Lance Thompson, "Valley of the Kings", December 1997, Number 197, page 25.
  • 26 August - Handley Page HP.88, VX330, a two-fifths scale flying testbed for the Handley Page HP.80 Victor bomber to prove crescent wing design, breaks up in flight when the rear fuselage separates during a manoeuvre.
  • 16 September - A damaged F2H-2 Banshee jet fighter, BuNo 124968, of VF-172, returning to the US Navy aircraft carrier misses the recovery net and crashes into several planes parked on the ship's deck, killing 7 people and destroying 4 aircraft. This crash led the USN to equip all future carriers with angled flight decks for safer airplane recovery.


  • 12 January - Prototype RAF Vickers Valiant, WB210, catches fire during in-flight relight trials, crew bails out but co-pilot, Squadron Leader Foster, is killed when his ejection seat strikes tail.
  • 3 April - A United States Air Force B-29 Superfortress crashes at night. Suspected reason - Fuel line issues. Unknown number of fatalities. Majority of the crew bail out and land in farmers field 8 miles N/5.5 miles W of Onaga, Kansas, United States.
  • 4 April - A United States Air Force C-124 Globemaster II collides in midair with a C-47 Skytrain over Mobile, Alabama, United States; 15 die.
  • 24 June - On the eighth test flight of the first Convair YB-60-1-CF, 49-2676, a flutter condition resulted in the trim tab disintegrating and the rudder suffering severe torsional wrinkles while flying at 263 mph at 35,000 feet. Replaced by rudder built for second prototype which never received one and never flew. As the B-52 project was succeeding, the B-60 program was cancelled and the two airframes were salvaged in 1954 for parts.
  • 8 July - Israeli IAF/DF Mosquito T.3, 2119, RAF serial unknown, as Capt. Daniel Shapira demonstrates a take-off to Lt. Ze'ev Tavor it goes badly, airframe ending up in the weeds. Despite this, both pilots eventually become test pilots. This was the first Israeli loss of the type.
  • 9 May - Maj. Neil H. Lathrop attempts low-level aileron roll in second prototype Martin XB-51-MA, 46-686, crashes at end of runway at Edwards AFB, California with fatal result.
  • 29 August - Boulton Paul P.120, VT951, first flown 6 August 1952, crashes this date on Salisbury Plain, Wilts, Great Britain after control failure. Pilot A.E. "Ben" Gunn ejects safely. Airframe had accumulated only ~eleven hours flying time. This is the first recorded loss of a delta-wing-design airframe.
  • 30 August - One of a pair of Northrop F-89 Scorpions disintegrates in flight during a display at the International Aviation Exposition at Detroit, Michigan, killing the Scorpion pilot and one spectator.
  • 1 September - Several tornados sweep across Carswell AFB, Texas destroying B-36B-10-CF, 44-92051, and damaging 82 others of the 7th and 11th Bomb Wings, including ten at the Convair plant on the other side of the Fort Worth base. Gen. Curtis LeMay is forced to remove the 19th Air Division from the war plan, and the base went on an 84-hour work week until repairs were made. 26 B-36s were returned to Convair for repairs, and the last aircraft deemed repairable was airborne again on 11 May 1953.

name="Jenkins"> Jenkins, Dennis R., Moore, Mike and Pyeatt, Don, compilers, B-36 Photo Scrapbook . North Branch, Minnesota.: Specialty Press, 2003, ISBN 1-58007-075-2, page 53.


  • 31 January - A USAF F-86F Sabre crashes in bad weather while on final approach to Truax Field, Wisconsin, killing the pilot, Major Hampton E.Boggs a former Korean War and World War II ace with the 459th Fighter Squadron.
  • 21 April - Last Handley Page Halifax in RAF service, HP.71 Halifax A.Mk.IX, RT396, of No. 1 Parachute Training School, RAF Henlow written off in accident.
  • 24 April - USAF Strategic Air Command experimental project MX-1018, Project Tom-Tom, an attempt to extend fighter escort for bombers on long-range missions by coupling a pair of Republic F-84s onto bomber wingtips, suffers setback when EF-84D, 48-641, piloted by Maj. John Davis, loses control, rolls upside down, hits wing of EB-29A-60-BN Superfortress, 44-62093, sending both aircraft down to crash in Peconic Bay, New York, killing all crew of both.
  • 12 May - Bell X-2, 46-675, exploded in belly of Boeing EB-50D mothership during captive LOX topping-off test and was dropped into Lake Ontario. Bell test pilot Jean "Skip" Ziegler and Bell flight engineer Frank Wolko killed. EB-50D, 48-096, piloted by William Leyshon and D.W. Howe, limps into Niagara Falls Airport, New York - never flies again.
  • 15 May - An errant USAF F-84 Thunderjet collides with 2 USAF C-119 Flying Boxcars flying in formation near Weinheim, Germany, sending all 3 planes down in flames. C-119C-70-FA, 51-8235, c/n 10783, struck by the fighter, which then struck C-119C-70-FA, 51-8241, c/n 10789, 3 Flying Boxcar crew KWF, 3 injured. F-84 pilot parachutes to safety.
  • 18 June - A United States Air Force C-124A Globemaster II, 51-137, crashes at Kodaira, Japan after engine failure on take-off at Tachikawa Air Force Base, Tokyo, Japan. 129 die, making this the deadliest recorded disaster in aviation history at the time.
  • 6 August - Israeli IDF/AF Mosquito FB.6 2113, ex-RAF PZ183, disappeared in flight over the Mediterranean, Lt. Uriel Ashel and 2nd Lt. Oded Shatil missing.
  • 14 October - Second of two Bell X-5 swing-wing testbeds, 50-1839, gets into irrecoverable spin condition at Edwards AFB, California, crashes in desert, killing test pilot Capt. Ray Popson on his first flight in the type.
  • 17 November - USAF C-119F-KM, 51-8163, c/n 166, crashed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, during a joint airborne operation. One of 12 C-119s on a troop drop, it lost an engine, dropped out of formation, hit and killed ten troopers in their chutes that had been dropped from other aircraft, that in addition to 4 crew members and one medical officer that went down with the plane.
  • 17 December - A USAF B-29 Superfortress making an emergency landing at Andersen AFB, Guam, failed to reach the runway and crashed into an officers housing area at the base, demolishing ten homes and damaging three more. Nine of sixteen crew were killed, as were seven on the ground - an officer, his wife, and five children.
  • 18 December - USAF TB-29, formerly Silverplate B-29-55-MO, 44-86382, of the 7th Radar Calibration Squadron, Sioux City Air Force Base, Iowa, destroyed by post-crash fire when pilot and co-pilot mistake Ogden Municipal Airport, Utah, for nearby Hill Air Force Base, put down on much shorter runway, overrun threshhold, bounce across deep ditch, 10-foot wide canal, crosses highway, comes to rest in pieces, followed by immediate fire. One fatality on crew, two others injured.



  • 22 March - A United States Navy Douglas R6D-1, BuNo 131612, c/n 43715, of VR-3, assigned to MATS, hits a cliff on Pali Kea Peak in the Waianae Range, 15 miles NW of Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands, United States, at 0203 hrs., killing 57 passengers and nine crew, making this the worst heavier-than-air disaster in US Navy history.
  • 14 April - Second prototype Lockheed XF-104A Starfighter, 53-7787, c/n 083-0002, lost when airframe lost an access panel during 20mm gun firing. Test pilot Herman R. "Fish" Salmon ejected as aircraft broke up, injured landing in rough country.
  • 13 May - On seventh and final flight of Northrop N-69A test vehicle for the XSM-62 Snark, only two of which were successful, mission was cut short when the missile collided with its T-33A photo plane.

name="Gibson"> Gibson, James N. Nuclear Weapons of the United States - An Illustrated History . Atglen, Pennsylvania.: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1996, Library of Congress card no. 96-67282, ISBN 0-7643-0063-6, pages 152, 154.


  • 10 January - The most notorious incident of aircraft pitch-up known as the "Sabre dance" was the loss of F-100C-20-NA Super Sabre 54-1907 during an attempted emergency landing at Edwards AFB, California which was caught by film cameras set up for an unrelated test. The pilot fought to retain control as he rode the edge of the flight envelope, but fell off on one wing, hit the ground, and exploded with fatal results. These scenes were inserted in the movie The Hunters, starring Robert Mitchum and Robert Wagner.
  • 31 January - USAF TB-25N, (built as B-25J-22-NC), 44-29125, on cross country flight from Nellis AFB, California to Olmsted AFB, Pennsylvania, after departing Selfridge AFB, Michigan suffers fuel starvation NE of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in mid-afternoon, attempts to divert to Greater Pittsburgh AFB, ditches in the Monongahela River at the 4.9 mile marker, west of the Homestead High-Level Bridge, drifts ~1.5 miles downstream in 8-10 kt. current, remaining afloat for 10-15 minutes. All six crew evacuate but two are lost in the 35 degree F water before rescue. Search for sunken bomber suspended 14 February with no success - aircraft is thought to have possibly settled in submerged gravel pit area in 32 feet of water, ~150 feet from shore, possibly now covered by 10-15 feet of silt. This crash remains one of the Pittsburgh region's unsolved mysteries.
  • 17 February - Douglas R5D-2 Skymaster, BuNo 39116, on flight from MCAS El Toro, California to NAS Alameda, in low overcast and drizzle, strikes Sunol Ridge on ranch ~3.5 miles N of Niles, California at 1345 hrs. Aircraft broke up and burned, killing 35, all but one of them Marines.
  • 24 February - USAF C-124C, 53-021, c/n 44316, enroute from Goose Bay, Labrador to Upper Heyford in the United Kingdom, lost power in number one and four engines (port and starboard outer). Restricted data cargo was jettisoned over the North Atlantic, including nuclear weapon firing and maintenance sets from an altitude of 8,000 to 9,000 feet. The Air Force assumed that the cargo packaging ruptured and sank after impact with the sea. Impact area searched, nothing recovered. On its return flight to the U.S. on 2 March, the aircraft crashed in the Atlantic ~225 nmi. SW of Keflavik, Iceland. The aircraft and crew were lost in 3,000 feet of water.
  • 10 March - One of four U.S. Air Force B-47Es out of MacDill AFB, Florida, misses tanker meet over the Mediterranean. Extensive search never turns up plane, crew, or two 210DE nuclear capsules.

name="Gibson"> Gibson, James N. Nuclear Weapons of the United States - An Illustrated History . Atglen, Pennsylvania.: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1996, Library of Congress card no. 96-67282, ISBN 0-7643-0063-6, page 64.

  • 25 March - First prototype Martin XB-51-MA, 46-0685, crashes in sand dunes near Biggs AFB, El Paso, Texas, killing both crew.
  • 15 May - A RCAF Avro CF-100 Canuck Mk. IVB, 18367, of 445 Squadron, out of CFB Uplands, falling from 33,000 feet crashed into Villa St. Louis, a convent of the Grey Nuns of the Cross in Orleans, Ontario, Canada at roughly 2300 hrs. (reports vary). 15 people were killed; both crewmen of the aircraft, pilot William J. Schmidt, and navigator Kenneth D. Thomas, a priest, 11 nuns and one other woman.
  • 5 June - A USAF Northrop F-89 Scorpion fighter jet of the 18th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron armed with 104 live rockets, strikes an automobile during an aborted take-off at Wold-Chamberlain Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States, killing 3 of the 5 occupants of the vehicle; both F-89 crew members survive.
  • 9 June - A Grumman F9F-4 Panther fighter jet of VMF-213, flown by a USMC Reserve pilot crashes into a row of houses near Wold-Chamberlain Field, striking the home at 5820 46th Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States. In addition to killing the pilot, Maj. George Armstrong, the crash kills 5 and injures 12 on the ground, most of whom are young children. This is the second time in 5 days that a military jet operating from this airport crashes and kills multiple civilians on the ground.
  • 16 June - A USAF MATS C-124A, 51-5183, c/n 43593, inbound to Eniwetok atoll, Pacific Ocean, carrying nuclear test device components (possibly for the EGG device fired during the Operation Redwing Mohawk test) crashed 421 feet short of, and eight feet below, the runway at Eniwetok Island, shearing off its landing gear and coming to rest 2,000 feet from the southeast end of the runway. Fire ensued, extinguished within three hours. No loss of life - most of the cargo, although damaged by water and foam, was recovered. The runway was cleared of wreckage and reopened to normal traffic before noon on 17 June. Salvage of certain aircraft components was accomplished by a team from Hickam AFB, Hawaii.
  • 27 July - A U.S. Air Force B-47E-130-BW, 53-4230, of the 307th Bomb Wing from Lincoln AFB, Nebraska, crashes while making touch-and-goes at RAF Lakenheath, skidding off runway and into nuclear weapons storage igloo holding three Mark 6 nuclear bombs, burns. No weapons in the facility go off and all are later repaired. Stratojet was unarmed.
  • 31 July - In a high-speed flight, prototype Folland Gnat, G-39-2, suffers tailplane flutter which breaks away. Folland test pilot Teddy Tennant bails out, becoming first person to use the Folland/Saab ejection seat in action. Tennant descends safely.
  • 21 September - Grumman company test pilot Tom Attridge shoots himself down in an F11F Tiger during a Mach 1.0 20 degree dive from 22,000 feet to 7,000 feet. He empties the fighter's 20mm cannon during the descent and as he reaches 7,000 feet the jet is struck multiple times, including one shell that is ingested by the engine, shredding the compressor blades. He limps the airframe back towards the Grumman airfield but comes down at almost the same spot where the first prototype impacted on 19 October 1954. Pilot gets clear before jet burns, suffers only minor injuries - investigation shows that he had overtaken and passed through his own gunfire!
  • 27 September - Test pilot Mel Apt is killed on the 20th flight of the Bell X-2, 46-674, out of Edwards Air Force Base, California, when he attempts a turn at Mach 3.2 (nearly 2,100 mph), and the airframe goes into a vicious case of inertia coupling. Apt jettisons the escape capsule but runs out of height before he can bail out of the falling nose section.
  • 1 October - The RAF's first Avro Vulcan B 1, XA897, which completed a fly-the-flag mission to New Zealand in September, approaches Heathrow in bad weather on GCA approach, crashing short of the runway. Two pilots eject, but four crew do not have ejection seats and are killed. Aircraft Captain Squadron Leader "Podge" Howard and co-pilot Air Marshal Sir Harry Broadhurst survive. Signal delays in the primitive Ground-Controlled Approach system of the time may have let the aircraft descend too low without being warned. Undercarriage damaged in contact short of runway with control lost during attempted go-around. Pathe News report
  • 10 October - A United States Air Force C-118 lost at sea about 150 miles north of the Azores. 59 died.
  • 5 December: An XSM-62 Snark, 53-8172, N-69D test model, fitted with new 24 hour stellar inertial guidance system, launches from Cape Canaveral Missile Test Annex, Florida, wanders off-course, ignores destruct command, disappears over Brazil. It is found by a farmer in January 1983.

name="Gibson"> Gibson, James N. Nuclear Weapons of the United States - An Illustrated History . Atglen, Pennsylvania.: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1996, Library of Congress card no. 96-67282, ISBN 0-7643-0063-6, pages 152, 154.


name="Gibson"> Gibson, James N. Nuclear Weapons of the United States - An Illustrated History . Atglen, Pennsylvania.: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1996, Library of Congress card no. 96-67282, ISBN 0-7643-0063-6, pages 61-62.

  • 31 May - A Royal Canadian Navy McDonnell F2H-3 Banshee fighter jet, BuNo 126313, Sqn. No. 104 of VF-870, spirals out of control after its right wing breaks in half during a high-speed flyby at naval air station HMCS Shearwater, Nova Scotia, Canada. The canopy is observed to separate from the aircraft, but the pilot, Lt. Derek Prout, fails to eject and is killed when the plane slams into McNabs Island. The crash is attributed to improperly manufactured fittings in the folding wing mechanism, and most RCN and US Navy Banshees are grounded until improved fittings can be installed.
  • 28 June - In two separate accidents, two newly delivered Lockheed U-2s of the SAC's 4028th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron (SRS) based at Laughlin Air Force Base, Del Rio, Texas, are lost on the same day. At 08:55 Lt. Lowcock is killed when his aircraft, U-2A 56-6699, Item 366, crashes while on the approach to Laughlin. Less than two hours later, Lt Leo Smith is also killed when his aircraft, U-2C 56-6702, Item 369, crashes in the New Mexico desert. At this time U-2s are not equipped with ejection seats to save weight, but at around this point this policy is reversed. Three months later on 26 September, the squadrons' Commanding Officer, Col. Jack Nole climbs out of his disabled U-2A, 56-6694, Item 361, near Del Rio, Texas, making the highest ever parachute escape to date.
  • 27 August - A Royal Canadian Navy McDonnell F2H-3 Banshee fighter jet, BuNo 126306, Sqn. No. 103 of VF-870, collides on a runway with an RCN General Motors TBM-3E Avenger, BuNo 53358, of squadron VC-921, at naval air station HMCS Shearwater, Nova Scotia, Canada. A flight of 3 Avengers had been cleared for a formation takeoff on Runway 20 while the Banshee was performing touch-and-go landings on intersecting Runway 16. Due to an inoperable radio, the pilot of the Banshee, Lt. Ed Trzcinski, a U.S. Navy exchange officer, did not hear instructions from the control tower to go around. He apparently did not see the oncoming Avengers or the red flares launched from the control tower due to a combination of light fog over the airfield and a lack of situational awareness. The Banshee collided with the second Avenger of the flight, killing Trzcinski and SubLt. Julian Freeman, RCN, pilot and sole occupant of the Avenger.
  • 15 November - USAF TB-29-75-BW, 44-70039, c/n 10871, of the 5040th Radar Evaluation Flight, 5040th Consolidation Maintenance Group, Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, crashed 39 miles SE of Talkeetna, Alaska at ~1822 hrs. Mission departed Elmendorf on a ground radar calibration mission at 0954 under instrument flight rules on flight path to the Aircraft Control and Warning radar stations at Campion near Galena and then Murphy Dome, N of Fairbanks. Flight covered 1,800 nmi. with ~ten hours in the air. Superfortress had fourteen hours' fuel and a crew of eight plus an instructor pilot. On final leg of approach to Elmendorf, bomber came down on glacier now known as “Bomber Glacier,” three crew with major injuries and one with a minor injury later upgraded to major, others KWF. Due to remoteness of crashsite, wreckage is still there.
  • 12 December – A U.S. Air Force B-52D-75-BO, 56-0597, crashes on takeoff at Fairchild AFB near Spokane, Washington. All crew members are killed except the tail gunner. The incident is caused by trim motors that were hooked up backwards. The aircraft climbed straight up, stalled, fell over backwards and nosed straight down.


  • 31 January - During simulated Strategic take-off from overseas base, a USAF B-47 suffers failure of left-rear landing gear, tail strikes ground, rupturing fuel tank. Aircraft burns. Fortunately, nuclear weapon on board, in strike configuration, does not detonate.

name="Gibson"> Gibson, James N. Nuclear Weapons of the United States - An Illustrated History . Atglen, Pennsylvania.: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1996, Library of Congress card no. 96-67282, ISBN 0-7643-0063-6, page 64.

  • 1 February – A USAF Douglas C-118A Liftmaster military transport, 53-3277, c/n 44648, of the 1611th ATW, and a U.S. Navy P2V-5F Neptune patrol bomber, BuNo 127723, collided over Norwalk, California (a suburb of Los Angeles) at night. 47 servicemen were killed as well as a 23-year-old civilian woman on the ground who was hit by falling debris. Two crew on P2V-5F survive. A plaque commemorating the disaster was erected by the American Legion in 1961 at the location of the accident, the corner of Firestone Boulevard and Pioneer Boulevard.
  • 5 February - A USAF B-47E-50-BW, 51-2349, of the 19th Bomb Wing out of Homestead AFB, Florida has ~0200 hrs. mid-air collision with USAF F-86L Sabre on simulated combat mission near Sylvania, Georgia, jettisons Mark 15, Mod 0 nuclear bomb training weapon casing from 7,200 feet over Wassaw Sound off Tybee Beach, Georgia. Stratojet recovers to Hunter AFB, Georgia, bomb is still missing. The Pentagon disputes reports that the plutonium trigger WAS on the weapon. See also Tybee Bomb. The B-47 was subsequently scrapped. All crew of both aircraft survive uninjured.
  • 11 March - A USAF B-47E from Hunter AFB, Georgia, jettisons nuclear weapons casing from 15,000 feet over rural section of Florence, South Carolina, high-explosives detonate on impact causing property damage, several civilian injuries. No fuel capsule installed on bomb.

name="Gibson"> Gibson, James N. Nuclear Weapons of the United States - An Illustrated History . Atglen, Pennsylvania.: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1996, Library of Congress card no. 96-67282, ISBN 0-7643-0063-6, pages 65.

  • 9 September – Two B-52s collide over the town of Airway Heights near Fairchild AFB, Washington. B-52D-30-BW, 56-661, c/n 464-032, and B-52D-40-BW, 56-681, c/n 464-052, both crash. Thirteen crew members are killed, while three survive. There were no casualties on the ground.
  • 30 September - A Rolls-Royce test pilot flying an Avro Vulcan, VX770, in an airshow at RAF Syerston pulls up too hard after a high-speed flyby and exceeds the airframe's structural limits, collapsing the plane's right wing. The craft spirals out of control and crashes, killing the entire aircrew and 3 people on the ground.
  • 4 November - A USAF B-47 catches fire during take-off from Dyess AFB, Texas, crashes from 1,500 feet altitude. Three crew eject, okay, one killed. Fire sets off single bomb casing on board, creating crater 35X6 feet. Some tritium contamination at crash site.
  • 26 November - A USAF B-47 on Alert Status at Chennault AFB, Louisiana, accidentally ignites RATO assisted take-off bottles, is pushed off runway into tow vehicle, catches fire, completely destroying single nuclear weapon on board. Contamination limited to area within aircraft wreckage.


  • 10 August - A Royal Canadian Air Force Canadair Sabre of the Golden Hawks aerobatic team overshot when landing at McCall Airfield, Alberta, with the rest of the team and collided with a Piper Pacer about 2 miles W of the field. Pilot of the Sabre and two occupants of the Pacer were killed.
  • 24 September - A Lockheed U-2C, 56-6693, Item 360, of the SAC's 4028th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron (SRS), Detachment C, out of Atsugi Air Force Base, Japan, and clandestinely operated by the CIA, runs out of fuel and pilot Tom Crull makes an emergency landing at the civilian airfield at Fujisawa. The black-painted aircraft with no identity markings attracts curious locals, and officials and Military Police are quickly dispatched to cordon-off the area. This they do at gunpoint, which attracts even more attention and pictures of the highly-secret U-2C soon appear in the Japanese press. This is the airframe that pilot Francis Gary Powers will be shot down in on 1 May, 1960.
  • 25 September - A United States Navy Martin P5M Marlin out of NAS Whidbey Island, Washington on Puget Sound, is forced to ditch in the Pacific Ocean, about 100 miles W of the Washington-Oregon border. A Betty depth bomb casing is lost and never recovered, but it was not fitted with a nuclear core.

name="Gibson"> Gibson, James N. Nuclear Weapons of the United States - An Illustrated History . Atglen, Pennsylvania.: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1996, Library of Congress card no. 96-67282, ISBN 0-7643-0063-6, page 214. Coast Guard rescues all ten crew after ten hours in a raft. The press was not notified at the time.

  • 1 October - English Electric test pilot Johnny W.C. Squier, flying prototype two-seat Lightning T.4, XL628, suffers structural failure, ejects at Mach 1.7, becoming first UK pilot to eject above the speed of sound. Radar tracks the descending fighter, but not the pilot as he landed in the Irish Sea, and despite an extensive search, Squier has to make his way ashore by himself after 28 hours in a dinghy. Squier passes away 30 January 2006, aged 85.
  • 15 October - A USAF B-52F-100-BO, 57-036, collides with KC-135 tanker, 57-1513, over Hardinsberg, Kentucky, crashes with two nuclear weapons on board, killing four of eight on the bomber and all four tanker crew. One bomb partially burned in fire, but both are recovered intact. Bombs moved to the AEC's Clarksville, Tennessee storage site for inspection and dismantlement. Both aircraft deployed from Columbus AFB, Mississippi.



  • 24 January: A USAF B-52G-95-BW, 58-0187, on airborne alert suffers structural failure, fuel leak, of starboard wing over Goldsboro, North Carolina, wing fails when flaps are engaged during emergency approach to Seymour Johnson AFB, two weapons on board break loose during airframe disintegration, one parachutes safely to ground, second impacts on marshy farm land, breaks apart, sinks into quagmire. Air Force excavates fifty feet down, finds no trace of bomb, forcing permanent digging easement on site. Five of eight crew survive.
  • 14 March: Failure of a pressurization system forces USAF B-52 to fly low, accelerating fuel-burn, bomber has fuel starvation at 10,000 feet over Yuba City, California, crashes, killing aircraft commander. Two nuclear weapons on board tear loose on impact but no explosion or contamination takes place.
  • 13 June: A United States Navy Grumman S-2 Tracker lost complete power in one engine and partial power in the other. Flying instructor Lt.J.G Loren Vern Page, 24, died 6 hours later at Iberia Parish Hospital, in New Iberia, Louisiana. He intentionally attempted ditching the aircraft in Spanish Lake, near the Naval Auxiliary Air Station New Iberia, after losing power. Students Lt.J.G. Donald L. Miller and a second unnamed student were both hospitalized with treatable injuries. Lt.J.G. Page was posthumously promoted to full Lieutenant status by the Secretary of the Navy, John B. Connally, for courage and valor. Also named for courage during the rescue of the pilot and the 2 students were LCDR Alvin E. Henke, who commanded the rescue mission, Dr. Lt. Donald E. Hines (MC), and hospital corpsman 3rd class Arthur J. Hoeny. Lt.J.G. Miller was also credited with assisting in the rescue. Lt. Page was survived by his wife Elsa and a daughter, Deborah Anne.
  • 21 October - Vought F8U-1 Crusader, BuNo 145357, 'AB 12', of VF-11, arrestor hook and right landing gear broke during heavy landing on USS Franklin D. Roosevelt, with aircraft catching alight and going over port side. A series of nine photographs taken by Photographer's Mate L.J. Cera showed the crash sequence with pilot Lt.J.G Kryway ejecting in Martin-Baker Mk. F-5 seat just as the fighter leaves the deck. These images were widely distributed in the Navy to assure pilots that the seat could save them. Kryway escapes with minor injuries, being picked up by helicopter ten minutes later. Joe Baugher notes that date of 21 August 1961 has also been reported.
  • 12 December - Mid-air collision of two Belgian Air Force C-119 Flying Boxcar at Chièvres Air Base, Belgium. 15 died.


  • 5 January - Three crew killed in crash of USAF B-47E-105-BW, 52-615, at March AFB, California. This will be the last fatal crash at that base until 19 October 1978.


  • 20 March - McDonnell F3H-2 Demon, BuNo 145281, of VF-14 suffers either cold cat launch or failure of cat harness before launch off USS Franklin D. Roosevelt, CV-42, and goes over the bow. Pilot Lt.j.g. Joseph Janiak, Jr. killed, body not recovered. Navy photo captured moment the Demon tipped over the bow.
  • 24 May - Central Intelligence Agency pilot Ken Collins is forced to eject from Lockheed A-12, 60-6926, Item 123, during subsonic test flight when aircraft stalls due to inaccurate data being displayed to pilot. Airframe impacts 14 miles (22.5 km.) S of Wendover, Utah. Official cover story refers to it as a Republic F-105 Thunderchief. Cause was found to be pitot-static system failure due to icing.
  • 26 June - A Belgian Air Force C-119 Flying Boxcar crashes near Detmold, Germany after being accidentally hit by a British mortar bomb. 5 crewmen and 33 paratroopers died, while 9 paratroopers managed to jump into safety using their parachutes.
  • 10 December: Test pilot Charles Chuck Yeager, out of Edwards AFB, California, zoom climbs NF-104A, 56-0762, modified with rocket engine in tail unit, to 106,300 feet (32,400 m), but aircraft enters flat spin when directional jets in nose run out of propellant, forcing him to eject. He suffers injuries when his helmet collides with the ejection seat. This mission was very loosely depicted in the film The Right Stuff. Aircraft was originally built as F-104A-10-LO. See also flying accident during a test flight


  • 4 January - NRB-57D, 53-3973, of the Wright Air Development Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, suffers structural failure of both wings at 50,000 feet (15240 m), comes down in schoolyard at Dayton, Ohio, crew bails out. The USAF subsequently grounds all W/RB-57D aircraft.
  • 13 January - United States Air Force B-52D-10-BW, 55-060, suffers structural failure in turbulence of winter storm, crashes approximately 17 miles SW of Cumberland, Maryland. Pilot, co-pilot, eject, survive. Navigator, tail gunner, eject, die of exposure. Radar nav fails to eject, rides airframe in with two nuclear weapons on board. Both bombs survive intact and are recovered.
  • 11 May - A United States Air Force C-135B-BN, 61-0332, c/n 18239, crashed on landing at Clark Air Force Base, Philippines, hitting a taxi. 84 on board, 5 survivors, passengers in taxi also killed. Date of 11 August 1964 cited by Joe Baugher. The crash occurred while attempting to land during a rainstorm at approximately 1920 hrs.
  • 10 June - First Lockheed XV-4A, 62-4503, crashes, killing civilian Army test pilot. Aircraft had just transitioned from conventional to vertical flight at 3,000 feet (914 m) when control was lost. Airframe came down between Dobbins AFB and Woodstock, Georgia, injuring one civilian on ground.
  • 9 July - Lockheed test pilot Bill Park ejects safely from Lockheed A-12, 60-6939, Item 133, on approach to Groom Dry Lake, Nevada during test flight after total hydraulic failure.
  • 8 December - United States Air Force B-58A, 60-1116, taxiing for take-off on icy taxiway at Bunker Hill AFB, Indiana, is blown off the pavement by exhaust of another departing B-58, strikes concrete manhole box adjacent to the runway, landing gear collapses, burns. Navigator killed in failed ejection, two other crew okay. Four B43 nuclear bombs and either a W39 or W53 warhead are on board the weapons pod, but no explosion takes place and contamination is limited to crash site.

name="Gibson"> Gibson, James N. Nuclear Weapons of the United States - An Illustrated History . Atglen, Pennsylvania.: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1996, Library of Congress card no. 96-67282, ISBN 0-7643-0063-6, page 74.


  • 16 January - A United States Air Force KC-135A-BN, 57-1442, c/n 17513, crashed after an engine failure shortly after take off from McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, USA. The fuel laden plane crashed at the intersection of 20th and Piatt causing a huge fire. 30 were killed 23 on the ground and the 7 member crew.
  • 27 April - Ryan XV-5A, 62-4505, noses over from 800 feet (244 m) and crashes at Edwards AFB, California, during a demonstration in front of several hundred reporters, military personnel, and civilians. Ryan test pilot Lou Everett attempts failed low-altitude ejection, dies.
  • 25 June - A United States Air Force C-135A, 60-0373, c/n 18148, out of McGuire AFB, New Jersey, crashed after 0135 hrs. take off in fog and light drizzle from MCAS El Toro, California, USA. Pilot flew into Loma Ridge at 0146. 84 died. Aircraft was bound for Okinawa.
  • 25 August - First Curtiss-Wright X-19A prototype, 62-12197, was destroyed in a crash at the FAA's National Aviation Facilities Experimental Center, Caldwell, New Jersey when gearbox fails followed by loss of propellers at 0718:44 hrs EDT. Test pilot James V. Ryan and FAA copilot Hughes ejected in North American LW-2B seats as the now-ballistic airframe rolled inverted at 390 feet, chutes fully deployed in 2 seconds at ~230 feet. Elapsed time between prop separation and ejection was 2.5 seconds. Airframe impacted in dried out tidewater area after completing 3/4 of a roll at 0719. Crew suffers minor injuries from ejection through canopy. The program was subsequently cancelled. This will be the last airframe design from two of the most famous company names in aviation.
  • 5 December - A-4E Skyhawk of VA-56 on nuclear alert status, armed with either one B43 nuclear bomb or a B61 nuclear bomb (sources differ), rolls off of elevator of aircraft carrier , in the Pacific Ocean. Airframe, pilot, and bomb are lost in 16,000 feet of water 80 miles from one of the Ryukyu Islands in Okinawa.

name="Gibson"> Gibson, James N. Nuclear Weapons of the United States - An Illustrated History . Atglen, Pennsylvania.: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1996, Library of Congress card no. 96-67282, ISBN 0-7643-0063-6, page 130. Winchester, Jim, Douglas A-4 Skyhawk: Heineman's Hot Rod. Barnsley, Yorkshire, United Kingdom: Pen & Sword Books, 2005, ISBN 1-84415-085-2, page 199. No public mention was made of the incident at the time and it would not come to light until a 1981 Pentagon report revealed that a one-megaton bomb had been lost. Japan then asks for details of the incident.

  • December 28 - CIA pilot Mele Vojvodich takes Lockheed A-12, 60-6929, Item 126, for a functional check flight (FCF) after a period of deep maintenance, but seconds after take-off from Groom Dry Lake, Nevada, the aircraft yaws uncontrollably, pilot ejecting at 100 feet (30 m.) after six seconds of flight, escaping serious injury. Investigation finds that the pitch stability augmentation system (SAS) had been connected to the yaw SAS actuators, and vice versa. SAS connectors are changed to make such wiring mistake impossible.



  • 5 January - Lockheed A-12, 60-6928, Item 125, lost during training/test flight. Pilot Ken Collins successfully ejects but is killed when he fails to separate from his seat.
  • 5 January - Martin MGM-13 Mace, launched from Site A-15, Santa Rosa Island, Hurlburt Field, Florida, by the 4751st Air Defense Squadron, fails to circle over Gulf of Mexico for test mission with two Eglin AFB F-4s, but heads south for Cuba. Third F-4 overtakes it, fires two AAMs with limited success, then damages unarmed drone with cannon fire. Mace overflies western tip of Cuba before crashing in Caribbean 100 miles south of the island. International incident narrowly avoided. To forestall the possibility, the United States State Department asks the Swiss Ambassador in Havana to explain the circumstances of the wayward drone to the Cuban government.
  • 10 January - Lockheed SR-71A, 61-7950, Item 2001, lost during anti-skid brake system evaluation at Edwards Air Force Base, California. Pilot Art Peterson survives.
  • 13 April - Lockheed SR-71A, 61-7966, Item 2017, crashed near Las Vegas, New Mexico, after a night refuelling devolved into a subsonic high-speed stall. Pilot Boone and RSO Sheffield eject safely.
  • 21 April - Fourth prototype F-111B, BuNo 151973, suffers flame-out of both engines at 200 feet after take-off, killing the project pilot Ralph Donnell and co-pilot Charles Wangeman.
  • 10 May - Northrop M2-F2, NASA 803, during the 16th glide flight, crashes on landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, due to a pilot-induced oscillation coupled with misjudged height and drift. Airframe rolls over six times, footage used for television program "The Six Million Dollar Man". Pilot Bruce Peterson survives.
  • 3 August - A USAF de Havilland Canada C-7B Caribou, 62-4161, c/n 99, 'KE' tailcode, of the 459th TAS, 483th TAW, plunges to earth minus its tail from low altitude after being hit by US 155 mm artillery "friendly fire" on approach to Duc Pho Special Forces camp, Vietnam. Three crew killed. Dramatic photo of plunging aircraft taken by Japanese journalist Hiromichi Mine, who was himself killed in the line of duty several weeks later.
  • 15 November - On the 191st flight of the X-15 program out of Edwards AFB, California, the third of three, 56-6672, suffers problems during reentry from 266,000 foot altitude, 3,750 mph mission. Airframe has massive structural failure, killing pilot Michael J. Adams, the only fatality in X-15s.

name="Miller"> Miller, Jay "USAF X-Series Aircraft - Part II", Aerophile, San Antonio, Texas, March/April 1977, Volume 1, Number 2, page 75.




  • 3 April - A USAF B-52D-60-BO Stratofortress, 55-089, c/n 464-17205, of the 26th Bomb Wing caught fire and crashed during landing at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, skidding into a brick storage building containing 25,000 gallons of jet fuel. Heroic efforts by crash crew save all nine on board, although one suffered broken limbs, and three firefighters were injured. One of the eight jet engines ran for forty minutes following crash.
  • 16 April - US Navy A-4 Skyhawk from NAS Oceana, Virginia, and USAF T-39 Sabreliner en route from Shaw AFB, South Carolina to Langley AFB, Virginia, collided in mid-air, the T-39 coming down over residential area of Weldon, North Carolina, but no one on the ground was injured and wreckage missed homes. Skyhawk crew, Lts. George D. Green, 27, and Walter G. Young, 27, both of Virginia Beach, Virginia, were killed as it came down in a swamp area ~20 miles away. Pilot Col. Francis G. Halturewicz, of the Sabreliner, was credited with minimizing ground damage as he jettisoned most of its fuel before impact. Killed were Col. Ivey J. Lewis, Stockton, California, Halturewicz, Maj. Ronald L. Edwards, and T. Sgt. Joseph R. Brown, all of MacDill AFB, Florida.
  • 28 April - A USAF F-4 being ferried from Robins AFB, Georgia to Torrejon Air Base, Spain, was disabled by a severe thunderstorm, forcing the crew to eject at 36,000 feet 150 miles E of Charleston, South Carolina, suffering minor injuries from hail while descending. Pilot Capt. Daniel Heitz, 25, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and navigator Lt. MacArthur Weston, 28, of Jacksonville, North Carolina are spotted by rescue aircraft, and are recovered by the oil tanker Texaco Illinois, diverted from 8 miles away.
  • 10 May - Lockheed SR-71A, 61-7969, Item 2020, crashed near Korat RTAFB, Thailand, after a refuelling resulted in a subsonic high-speed stall. Pilot Lawson and RSO Martinez eject safely.
  • 22 May - A USAF T-33A of the 1st Composite Wing, Andrews AFB, Maryland, crashes just short of the north runway on approach to that base, killing pilot Maj. Jerry H. McDowell, 36, Clinton, Maryland, and Lt. Edwin D. Billmeyer, 24, of Baltimore, Maryland, and injuring three motorists on the ground.
  • 24 May - A USAF C-5A makes an emergency landing at Dobbins AFB, Georgia, suffering an electrical malfunction that knocks out landing lights, causes minor damage to the nosegear and flattens four of 28 tires.
  • 27 May: A USAF C-5A catches fire while taxiing at Air Force Plant 42, Palmdale, California, due to an electrical fire in the cargo compartment. Five crew escape, but seven firefighters suffer minor injuries fighting blaze.
  • 6 June: A USAF C-5A, fifteenth off the production line, but first to be delivered to any operational Military Airlift Command wing, loses one tire and blows another on landing at Charleston AFB, South Carolina for the 437th MAW.
  • 17 June - Lockheed SR-71A, 61-7970, Item 2021, collides with KC-135Q tanker 20 miles E of El Paso, New Mexico. Pilot Buddy Brown and RSO Mort Jarvis eject safely. Tanker limps back to Beale Air Force Base, California.
  • 30 July - USMC KC-130F, BuNo 150685, c/n 3728, of VMGR-152, crashed at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, Lake Forest, California during misjudged maximum effort landing - wings broke, fuselage ended up overturned, burned.
  • 5 August - A USAF F-4 of the 36th TFW, Bitburg, Germany, TDY to Zaragoza Air Base, Spain, crashes on a gunnery range near Zaragoza, killing pilot Capt. Charles A. Baldwin and navigator Capt. Stephen N. Smith.
  • 11 November -A USAF F-4 crashes in the North Sea after an engine fire. Both crew eject. Capt. Johnny Jones, 28, of Snow Hill, North Carolina, and Capt. David Allen, 27, of Darien, Connecticut are rescued by helicopter, officials at Ruislip, England said.
  • 15 November - US Navy S-2 Tracker crashes at Fort Dix, New Jersey killing four. Wreckage found on 16 November in wooded area off Range Road. Killed were pilot Navy Lt.J.G. James K. Larson, 24, of Milltown, New Jersey, co-pilot 1st Lt. (USMC) Carleton C. Perine, 25, of Orange, New Jersey, and passengers Navy Airman Apprentice Robert Suttle, 20, of Bricktown, New Jersey, and Navy Airman Apprentice Gary B. Warner, 19, of Central Bridge, New York.
  • 16 November - A U.S. Navy F-4 crashed in the Atlantic Ocean 30 miles E of the Virginia Capes shortly after launch from the carrier USS Forrestal, CVA-59. Two crew, out of NAS Oceana, Virginia, are lost, the Navy reported 17 November. Pilot was Lt.j.g. John Dale O'Connor, and RSO was Lt.j.g. Thomas F. Hanagan, both of Virginia Beach, Virginia.


  • 7 January - An unarmed USAF B-52C-45-BO, 54-2666, of the 9th BW, Westover AFB, Massachusetts, crashed into Lake Michigan near Charlevoix, Michigan during a practice bomb run, exploding on impact. Only a small amount of wreckage, two life vests, and some spilled fuel was found in Little Traverse Bay. Bomber went down six nautical miles from the Bay Shore Air Force Radar Site. Nine crew KWF.
  • 6 June - USMC F-4B-18-MC Phantom II, BuNo 151458, en route from NAS Fallon, Nevada to MCAS El Toro, California, has mid-air collision with Hughes Airwest Flight 706, DC-9-31, N9345, out of Los Angeles International Airport, at 1811 hrs. over the San Gabriel Mountains, N of Duarte, California. Collision at 15,150 feet altitude killed F-4 pilot 1st Lt. James R. Phillips, 28, of Denver, Colorado (inoperable canopy release), the RIO ejecting and landing near Azusa, California. All 44 passengers and five crew members were killed aboard the DC-9, which impacted into a remote canyon of Mt. Bliss approximately three miles N of the city of Duarte. The wreckage of the F-4B fighter landed in another canyon approximately .75 miles SE of the DC-9's crash site. Although visibility was good, with no clouds, both crews failed to see and avoid each other. The Airwest DC-9 jetliner was under radar control, but the F-4B fighter was flying with an inoperable transponder that made it invisible on air traffic control radar screens. The RIO, Lt. Christopher E. Schiess, 24, of Salem, Oregon, admitted to inquiry board that the F-4B had performed a 360-degree slow roll about a minute before the collision. One of the early leaders of campus antiwar activism, Prof. Arnold Kaufman, at the University of Michigan in 1965, was killed aboard the DC-9.
  • 26 July - Altus Air Force Base KC-135 (co-piloted by AF Captain John Lewis Daugherty from Little Rock, Arkansas) crash landed at the Birmingham National Airport in the early afternoon. Most of the crew quickly escaped the wreckage with minor injuries. Captain Daugherty was briefly rendered unconscious prior to his last minute escape from the burning wreckage, mumbling incoherently. This accident shut down the Birmingham air port for about six hours.
  • 11 September - Lockheed C-121 of the West Virginia Air National Guard, carrying five state governors to a conference in Puerto Rico, experiences engine problems, force-lands at Homestead AFB, Florida. Governors of Connecticut, Minnesota, Montana, Texas and Utah, transfer to another aircraft to continue flight.
  • 28 September - A United States Navy P-3 Orion, on patrol over the Sea of Japan, is fired on by a Soviet Sverdlov class cruiser in international waters. The P-3 was checking a group of Soviet Navy ships cruising off the shore of Japan when crew members reported seeing tracer rounds fired well ahead of the Orion. Immediately following the incident, authorities recalled the P-3 to its base at MCAS Iwakuni, and all surveillance craft were pulled back five miles.
  • 29 September - A USAF C-5A of the 443rd Military Airlift Wing, Altus AFB, Oklahoma, one of six used for training, had its number one (port outer) engine tear off the pylon while advancing take-off power before brake release, setting the wing on fire. The crew evacuated safely within 90 seconds and the fire was extinguished by emergency equipment. The engine had flown up and behind the Galaxy, landing some 250 yards to the rear. The Air Force subsequently grounded six other C-5s with similar flight hours and cycles. Further investigation found cracks in younger C-5s and the entire fleet was grounded.
  • 19 October - Grumman E-2B Hawkeye and Ling-Temco-Vought A-7B Corsair II, both from the USS Midway, CVA-41, collided over the Sea of Japan, with E-2 crashing near the stern of the carrier, all five crew lost. A-7 pilot ejected safely, picked up by helicopter from MCAS Iwakuni in good condition.
  • 29 October - A USAF T-33A crashes near Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, both crew ejecting before the airframe impacted in a sugar cane field; one seriously injured, one with minor injuries.
  • 7 November - A USAF F-4 Phantom II and a USAF F-106A-130-CO Delta Dart, 59-0125, of the 84th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Hamilton AFB, California, suffer mid-air and crash in isolated areas near Nellis AFB, Nevada. All three crew eject and survive. F-4 crew, Maj. Henry J. Viccellio and Maj. James A. Robertson, okay. Phantom comes down 35 miles from Caliente, Nevada, Delta Dart attempts recovery to Nellis but pilot Maj. Clifford L. Lowrey ejects eight miles NE of base.


  • 19 February - C-130E 62-1813, c.n. 3775, of the 16th Tactical Airlift Training Squadron, mid-air collision with Cessna T-37 from Biggs AFB, Texas, 6 kilometers NE of Little Rock, Arkansas - four killed on Hercules. Two Tweet pilots eject safely.
  • 14 March - Two F-4 Phantoms have mid-air collision over the town of El Buste, Spain, about 30 miles from the joint US-Spanish base at Zaragoza. All four crewmen are KWF. Debris showered down onto the town, damaging communications and starting several roof fires, but no injuries to townspeople. Aircraft were returning to base in strong winds and broken clouds after a routine gunnery mission.
  • 31 March - Twenty minutes after take-off from McCoy AFB, Florida, a USAF B-52D-80-BO, 56-0625, of the 306th Bomb Wing, suffers in-flight fire in engine number seven which spreads to starboard wing; attempts emergency landing at McCoy, crashes one quarter mile short of runway, killing seven on board, injuring eight civilians on the ground, destroys four houses.
  • 8 April - Hawker-Siddeley Andover C.1, bound for the United Kingdom, carrying 18-man paratroop exhibition team, crashes on take-off at Siena, Italy, digging in starboard wingtip before skidding 300 yards across airfield and catching fire. Four killed, four injured, most escaping before fuel tank ignited. Dramatic photo, distributed worldwide, showed aircraft at almost 90 degree angle from ground with wingtip digging in.
  • 20 July - Lockheed SR-71A, 61-7978, Item 2029, lost in landing accident at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. Pilot Capt. Dennis K. Bush and RSO Jimmy Fagg are unhurt.
  • 13 October – Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, a Fairchild FH-227D, T-571, c/n 572, carrying a rugby union team from Montevideo to a match in Santiago, Chile, crashes in a remote region of the Andes on the Chile-Argentina border. Of the 45 on board, 12 died in the crash, five died by the following morning, and one died from his injuries a week later. The survivors were eventually forced to resort to cannibalism to live, feeding off the bodies of the dead that had been preserved by the freezing temperatures. On 12 December, the remaining survivors sent three of their own to find help. After sending one of the party back to the crash site to preserve rations, the remaining two found help. The 14 survivors remaining at the crash site were rescued in a mission that ended on 23 December. The story would spawn a critically-acclaimed book in 1974, along with several film adaptations.
  • 24 November - Two USAF RF-4Cs of the 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, Shaw AFB, South Carolina, suffer mid-air collision over the Atlantic Ocean about 30 miles off of Pawley's Island at about 1450 hrs. Two crew from one Phantom recovered 27 miles out to sea by UH-1N, Save 53, of Detachment 8, 44th ARRSq, out of Myrtle Beach AFB, but two others including one officer of HQ 9th Air Force, Shaw AFB, are lost.
  • 5 December - During an aerospace defense command training mission, F-102A, 56-1517, from McEntire Air National Guard Base, South Carolina, collided with C-130E, 64-0558, of the 318th SOS, out of Pope AFB, North Carolina, during a simulated interception, over the Bayboro area of Horry County, east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. One killed in the Delta Dagger, and all twelve aboard the Hercules perish. Some press reports list Conway, South Carolina, west of the crash site, as the location.


  • 7 February - A US Navy A-7 Corsair II piloted by Lt. Robert Lee Ward, 28, one of two on a routine training flight to Sacramento, California from NAS Lemoore near Fresno, California, crashes in Alameda, after breaking formation at 28,000 feet for unexplained reasons. Fighter strikes four-story Tahoe Apartments building at 1814 Central Avenue in the city center with fire spreading to other structures, killing pilot and ten civilians, 26 injured. Navy inquiry found evidence of a cockpit fire involving the pilot's oxygen hose, and that the in-flight blaze was "very near" Ward's oxygen mask. Speculation that smoking could have caused it, but no proof. Lawsuits for more than $700,000 were filed in connection with the disaster, including a $500,000 damage action filed in Alameda County Superior Court by owner of the demolished 36-unit Tahoe Apartments.
  • 12 April - A United States Navy P-3C-125-LO Orion, BuNo 157332, c/n 185-5547, of VP-47 and a Convair 990, N711NA, '711', "Galileo", (formerly N5601G), belonging to NASA, collided while on final approach to NAS Moffett Field in Sunnyvale, California and crashed short of the runway. The planes fell on the Sunnyvale Municipal Golf Course and 16 of the 17 people aboard the two planes were killed.


  • 8 February - A USAF B-52G-95-BW, 58-0174, of the 744th BS, 456th BW, veered off the runway during night take-off from Beale AFB, California, skidded 1,500 feet through a muddy field before overturning, destroyed by four massive explosions and fire. One crew, the first pilot, was thrown free with severe burns, but seven others perished.
  • 9 February - Two USAF F-105s of the 457th TFS (TH tailcode), 506th TFG, 301st Reserve TFW, Carswell AFB, Texas, suffer mid-air collision, downing one Thud ~1 mile from Holliday, Texas, pilot Capt. Frank E. Peck ejecting, suffering broken right leg on landing, recovered by helicopter. Second F-105 recovers to Carswell despite damage, pilot Lt. Hays C. Kirby uninjured.
  • 10 February: A USAF T-39A returning to McClellan AFB, California collides with a USAF NKC-135A at 23,000 feet, over Peterson Field, Colorado, killing all seven on board T-39. Sabreliner had experienced landing gear trouble, rendezvoused with NKC-135 for look-over, accidentally strikes rear fuselage and fin of Boeing. NKC-135 lands safely, was en route from Seattle, Washington to Kirtland AFB, New Mexico.
  • 4 March - A USAF CIM-10 Bomarc missile of the 4751st ADS, Hurlburt Field, Florida, explodes on Santa Rosa Island due to a malfunction shortly after launch from Site A-15, impacting on government property adjacent to the launchsite. Eglin AFB authorities confirmed that there were no personnel injuries, and local law enforcement agencies had received no damage reports.
  • 5 March - A United States Navy RA-5C crashes in the Gulf of Mexico 35 miles west of Tampa, Florida. Both crew eject, two chutes observed, but only the navigator is recovered, by a fishing boat.
  • 5 March - A USAF KC-135A, 57-1500, c/n 17571, of the 91st Air Refuelling Squadron, 384th Air Refuelling Wing, crashed and burned shortly after take-off from McConnell AFB, Kansas, killing two of seven crew. Air Force spokesmen reported that the aircraft was carrying 136,000 pounds of fuel when it crashed 3,000 feet from the main runway, after it apparently lost power.
  • 5 March - A USAF KC-135A of the 7th Air Refuelling Squadron, 7th Bomb Wing, en route from Eielson AFB, Alaska to its homebase at Carswell AFB, Texas, suffered explosive decompression when a small window blew out at 35,000 feet at 1630 hrs. EST about 40 miles SE of Fort Nelson, British Columbia. One passenger of the 25 aboard died from the effects of the rapid decompression; others and eight crew okay. The tanker made an emergency landing at a Canadian Armed Forces Base at Edmonton, Alberta.
  • 29 April - A USAF Martin MGM-13 Mace of the 4751st ADS, crashed in a wooded area of Eglin AFB, Florida, approximately ~1.5 miles north of Auxiliary Field 4 after launch from Eglin Site A-10 on Santa Rosa Island about 1200 hrs. for a routine Air National Guard training mission. There were no injuries or property damage although a small brushfire was ignited, quickly extinguished. The okay to launch the remaining nine remaining Maces during June for air-to-air missile tests was given on 29 May 1974. "Officials noted that 154 mace [sic] target missiles had been fired prior to this failure, with none failing due to a similar problem.
  • 31 July - A United States Navy E-2 Hawkeye based at NAS Norfolk, Virginia, crashed on take-off from CGAS Elizabeth City, North Carolina during a touch-and-go, striking a maintenance facility, triggering a fire in a fibreglass and upholstery shop. Instructor pilot, three civilians killed, student pilot, and 12-18 others injured.
  • 18 August - Lockheed C-141A, 65-0274, c.n. 300-6126, of the 437th MAW, Charleston AFB, South Carolina, hits Mount Potosi at the 19,000 foot level, ~17 miles from destination, John F. Kennedy International Airport, La Paz, Bolivia, killing seven crew.
  • 1 September - The Sikorski S-67 Blackhawk company demonstrator N671SA crashed while attempting to recover from a roll at too low an altitude during its display at the Farnborough Air Show, United Kingdom, killing its two crew.

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External links


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