L-188
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52 Killed In Usaf Crash, Aircraft Missing Since 52

Fri Jun 29, 2012 9:41 pm

Hey guys, sorry I didn't get this posted up earlier this week but earlier this week crews from the Alaska Army National Guard and the Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command commenced recovery operations of a USAF transport that crashed up here. A National Guard Blackhawk on weekend drill discovered the wreakage on Pioneer glacier on the 10th of June during a routine training flight.

The C-124 went down near Gannitt Mountain on Nov 22., 1952. All 52 on board perished. The wreckage that was found was located some 12-14 miles downhill of the crash site on the glacier itself. Material wa. The flight originated at McCord AFB in Washington State and was enroute to Elemendorf AFB. It had been in the air about 6-7 hours when it went in.

At the time a small plane piloted by the then president of the University of Alaska landed at the site and reported no surviors and that a avalanche probably triggered by the crash had pushed the wreckage down on the glacier and buired it under at least 8 feet of snow. A later rescue/recover party hiked into the wreck from Prince William Sound but was turned back due to weather, avalanche danger, and frostbite. No surviors where found by them and several feel of new snow on the site prevented them from attempting any remains revcovery.

During the current survey of the site the AKARNG and JPAC crews did positively identify the wreck and material and probable HR's where recovered at the crash site. They are being sent to Hawaii to be identified, this is the same facility that processes and identifies remains from other wars, most famously MIA personel from Vietnam.

http://www.adn.com/2012/06/27/2522442/plane-found-on-glacier.html

The ADN Link does have a photo link to a photo of the crash site taken in 52 and an overview of the current recovery ops.
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redflyer
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RE: 52 Killed In Usaf Crash, Aircraft Missing Since 52

Sat Jun 30, 2012 12:39 pm

I don't understand something...if they knew in 1952 where the plane went down, why did they give up on attempting recovery or, at a minimum, keeping records of the crash site active so that eventually someone could work the site? It appears as though they just wrote off the accident as an unrecoverable event and the records were lost to history. With 52 passengers and crew on board, someone - friends/family/descendants - should have kept the coordinates active so that someday someone could have made some kind of recovery attempt. I know it was 1952 and we were in the midst of a war in Korea and had just come off another conflagration where MIA-type events were fairly common, but to lose the records of the location seems a bit odd, especially when 52 lives were lost - this wasn't a typical military aircraft gone missing with just a handful of crew. It was the largest plane of its type in the world and 52 people were on board.
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Revelation
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RE: 52 Killed In Usaf Crash, Aircraft Missing Since 52

Sat Jun 30, 2012 4:13 pm

There really was nothing to recover:

Quote:

"The scene that met their eyes was not pleasant," Davis said, reading from his book. "The large aircraft had plowed into the mountainside at full speed, and except for a portion of the tail section, everything else including the crew and passenger complement was strewn over the glacier in small pieces."

It appeared that the crash triggered an avalanche that buried the smaller pieces of the wreck. "One fact is obvious from observation," Sullivan and Moore said in their reports. "The aircraft is scattered over at least two acres and covered by 8 feet of fresh powder snow."

The article points out how hard it was for the family to accept, but yes, in that era, expectations were different, and all kinds of technology (from transport to winter survival gear to forensic identification) were totally different.

At best they could have waited for a stretch of good weather (probably months later) and send up a few dozen troops to sift through cubic acres of snow hoping to use fingerprints and dental records to identify various body parts.

Given all of the above, it doesn't surprise me that much that they didn't expend the effort.
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ssteve
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RE: 52 Killed In Usaf Crash, Aircraft Missing Since 52

Sat Jun 30, 2012 5:58 pm

Quoting Revelation (Reply 2):

Given all of the above, it doesn't surprise me that much that they didn't expend the effort.

Different times, though. In this era, they'd go over the site with a fine-toothed comb at the height of the subsequent summer melt season.
 
rc135x
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RE: 52 Killed In Usaf Crash, Aircraft Missing Since 52

Sat Jun 30, 2012 6:42 pm

Not a lot has changed in the intervening years due to the extreme nature of terrain and weather in Alaska.

On 25 February 1985, RC-135T 55-3121 crashed near Valdez, AK. Despite intensive search efforts, including SR-71 missions, the wreckage was not located until 2 August 1985, by a member of the mishap airplane's squadron. On-site inspection and recovery of the crew of three took place two weeks later.

On 16 October 1972, U.S. Representative Hale Boggs (and others) were lost when their Cessna 310 disappeared during a flight from Anchorage to Juneau. After 39 days of intense search efforts, nothing was (or has been) found.

Alaska is particularly unforgiving in terms of crash terrain, and even with contemporary technology finding a site and recovering crew and passengers is a situation where the odds are heavily against success. I wish it was better.
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canoecarrier
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RE: 52 Killed In Usaf Crash, Aircraft Missing Since 52

Sat Jun 30, 2012 6:56 pm

They briefly covered this story on the local news here in Seattle the other day. I'd heard about this crash before and that they never recovered the bodies. It's a testament to our military that they never gave up trying to recover the remains.

Quoting redflyer (Reply 1):

I don't understand something...if they knew in 1952 where the plane went down, why did they give up on attempting recovery or, at a minimum, keeping records of the crash site active so that eventually someone could work the site?

It's not that different than the Curtis Commando R5C transport plane that crashed into Mount Rainier, killing 32 U.S. Marines, on December 10, 1946. Those bodies were never recovered and are entombed in a glacier somewhere on a mountain just a short helicopter ride from JB Lewis-McCord.

http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm...isplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=7820
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kc135topboom
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RE: 52 Killed In Usaf Crash, Aircraft Missing Since 52

Sun Jul 01, 2012 4:54 pm

There have been lots of aircraft, military, commerical, and general aviation, that have crashed that have never been found. Among the most famous is the USAF/SAC RC-135E and the USN "Flight-19" of 5 TBMs, and the PBM sent to look for them. Steve Fosset's wreckage took over a year to find, by that time his body had been consumed by bears. There are many others that took weeks, months, or years to find. In 1950, USAF/SAC B-36B tail # 44-92075 on a practice mission lost 3 of its 6 engines, the nuke was jettisoned and the crew bailed out. The airplane continued on and was thought to have crashed at sea until it was found 3 years later by the RCAF (who was looking for another missing aircraft at the time) crashed on a mountain side east of Stewart, BC and Hyder, AK. Also in 1950, USAF/SAC C-54D tail # 42-72469 disappeared enroute from Alaska to Montana with a crew of 8 and 36 passengers. That aircraft has never been found. It's last known position was reported to be over Snag, Yukon two hours after take-off.
 
L-188
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RE: 52 Killed In Usaf Crash, Aircraft Missing Since 52

Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:23 am

There is a Facebook page up about the crash where they are getting photos sent in of the crash victims.

If you had any doubts that this is a worthwhile mission I suggest you look it up
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canoecarrier
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RE: 52 Killed In Usaf Crash, Aircraft Missing Since 52

Mon Jul 02, 2012 2:02 am

Quoting L-188 (Reply 7):
If you had any doubts that this is a worthwhile mission I suggest you look it up

I can't imagine anyone here has any doubts that this is worthwhile, do you have the link to the FB page?

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 6):
Also in 1950, USAF/SAC C-54D tail # 42-72469 disappeared enroute from Alaska to Montana with a crew of 8 and 36 passengers. That aircraft has never been found. It's last known position was reported to be over Snag, Yukon two hours after take-off.

This one I hadn't heard of. Although, I've spent quite a bit of time canoeing in northern Manitoba and Ontario. You'd be surprised what you run into that has been sitting out in the wilderness for decades. Nothing as big as a plane, but I've found dog sleds, fire fighting equipment and trappers cabins that don't look like anyone has been in them in years.
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ssteve
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RE: 52 Killed In Usaf Crash, Aircraft Missing Since 52

Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:02 pm

 
L-188
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RE: 52 Killed In Usaf Crash, Aircraft Missing Since 52

Tue Jul 03, 2012 4:56 am

Thanks SSTeve.

I wasn't able to link to it using my iPod.

I wanted to link to this photo that was taken after the FAA cleared the TFR over the crash site. I lifted it from the link SSTeve put up. Credit to the photographer.

The box is the location of the debris field. That is about 14 miles down the valley from the original crash site. Also I want to point out the location of the field in reation to the face of the glacier. There is a good chance some debris has already calved into Lake George and additional calving from the glacier is to be expected

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