Savage Mountain B-52 crash

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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. The two nuclear bombs being ferried were found "relatively intact in the middle of the wreckage", and after Fort Meade's 28th Ordnance Detachment secured them, the bombs were removed two days later to the Cumberland Municipal Airport.

Accident description

The B-52D was returning to Georgia from Massachusetts after an earlier Chrome Dome airborne alert to Europe. Near Meyersdale, Pennsylvania, on a path east of Salisbury, Pennsylvania; and after altitude changes to evade severe turbulence; the vertical stabilizer 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. Today, the crash site is in a private meadow of Elbow Mountain within Savage River State Forest, along the public Savage Mountain Trail just north of the Pine Swamp Road crossing.


As the only crew member who did not eject, the radar bombardier died in the crash and was not located until more than 24 hours afterward. The navigator and tail gunner died of exposure in the snow. The navigator's body was found two days after the accident, 6 miles (10 km) from the crash and 3 miles (5 km) away from where his orange parachute was found near Poplar Lick Run – he had left his unused survival tent and "meandered" into and out of an open barn as with hypothermia stages 2 & 3. After landing in the "Dye Factory field", the tail gunner trekked in the dark with a broken leg and other injuries 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.

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, notified the United States Air Force of the crash. The co-pilot landed near New Germany Road and remained "cozy warm" until rescued.


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