1964 Savage Mountain B-52 crash

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Savage Mountain B-52 crash
The test of B-52H 61-0023 demonstrated the loss of vertical stabilizer in strong winds.
10 January 1964: 3 days before the Savage Mountain crash, a New Mexico B-52 test showed the vertical stabilizer could fail.
Accident summary
Date 13 January 1964 (1964-01-13)
Summary Structural failure
Site Savage Mountain, Garrett County (near Barton, Maryland)
39°33′55″N 79°04′33″W / 39.565278°N 79.075833°W / 39.565278; -79.075833 (1964 Savage Mountain B-52 crash)
1964 SAVAGE MOUNTAIN B-52 CRASH Latitude and Longitude:

39°33′55″N 79°04′33″W / 39.565278°N 79.075833°W / 39.565278; -79.075833 (1964 Savage Mountain B-52 crash)
Crew 5:
  • Pilot: Maj Thomas W. McCormick
  • Co-pilot: Capt Parker C. Peedin
  • Radar bombardier: Maj Robert J. Townley [1]
  • Navigator: Maj Robert Lee Payne
  • Tail gunner: TSgt Melvin F. Wooten
Fatalities 3
Survivors 2 (Pilot, copilot)
Aircraft type Boeing B-52D Stratofortress
Operator 484th Bombardment Wing, Heavy ( SAC, United States Air Force)
Registration 55-060
(c/n 464012, [2] call sign "Buzz 14")
Flight origin Westover Air Force Base

Turner Air Force Base

1964 Savage Mountain B-52 crash is located in Maryland
Crash site
Crash site
Barton, MD
Barton, MD
Crash site in Maryland

The 1964 Savage Mountain B-52 crash was a U.S. military nuclear accident in which a Cold War bomber's vertical stabilizer broke off in winter storm turbulence. [3] The two nuclear bombs being ferried were found "relatively intact in the middle of the wreckage", [4] and after Fort Meade's 28th Ordnance Detachment secured them, [5] the bombs were removed two days later to the Cumberland Municipal Airport. [6]

Accident description

The B-52D was returning to Georgia from Massachusetts after an earlier Chrome Dome airborne alert to Europe. [7] Near Meyersdale, Pennsylvania, on a path east of Salisbury, Pennsylvania; [8] and after altitude changes to evade severe turbulence; [4] the vertical stabilizer [7] broke off. The aircraft was left uncontrollable as a result; the pilot ordered the crew to bail out, and the aircraft crashed. The wreckage of the aircraft was found on the Stonewall Green farm. [8] Today, the crash site is in a private meadow of Elbow Mountain [9] within Savage River State Forest, along the public Savage Mountain Trail just north of the Pine Swamp Road crossing. [10]


As the only crew member who did not eject, the radar bombardier [1] died in the crash and was not located until more than 24 hours afterward. [11] The navigator and tail gunner died of exposure in the snow. The navigator's frozen body was found two days [1] after the accident, 6 miles (10 km) from the crash and 3 miles (5 km) away [12] from where his orange parachute was found high in a tree near Poplar Lick Run. [8]:1 Unable to disentangle his chute he released the Koch fittings and fell over thirty feet through the tree, suffering injuries from the branches; his survival tent and other gear remained in the tree. He then attempted to find shelter and "meandered", eventually falling down a steep slope in the dark into a river basin. [1] After landing in the "Dye Factory field", the tail gunner trekked in the dark with a broken leg and other injuries [1] over 100 yards (90 m) to the embankment of Casselman River – in which his legs were frozen when his body was found five days later, 800 yards (700 m) from a Salisbury street light. [8]:2,4

The pilot parachuted into Maryland's Meadow Mountain ridge near the Mason–Dixon line and, after being driven to the Tomlinson Inn on the National Road in Grantsville, [8]:2 notified the United States Air Force of the crash. The co-pilot landed near New Germany Road and remained "cozy warm" until rescued. [8]:2


1964 ... Savage ... Mountain ... B-52 ... Crash ...



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