Atlantic Ocean – February 26, 1965

Atlantic Ocean – February 26, 1965

About 700 miles east of Bangor, Maine, and 220 miles south of Cape Race, Newfoundland

B-47 Stratojet during refueling operations. U.S. Air Force Photo

B-47 Stratojet during refueling operations.

U.S. Air Force Photo

     On February 26, 1965, a flight of three B-47 bomber aircraft, and one KC-135 tanker plane, were en-route from Torrejon Air Force Base in Madrid, Spain, to Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.   The planes were returning to the U.S. after a three week deployment overseas.  

     The B-47s were assigned to the 100th Bomb Group assigned at Pease, and the tanker was part of the 71st Air Refueling Squadron at Dow Air Force Base, but all were under the command of the 8th Air Force.    

     As the formation was about 800 miles from the coast of Maine, the tanker began refueling operations.  After refueling one of the B-47s, a second moved into place.  At 9:40 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, a mid-air collision took place between the tanker and the second B-47 resulting in a massive fire ball.  Both aircraft went down in flames and into the icy water. 

RB-47E Stratojet U.S. Air Force Photo

RB-47E Stratojet

U.S. Air Force Photo

     No parachutes were seen by crew of the other aircraft, and even though the planes carried life jackets and rubber rafts, Air Force officials doubted any survivors could last long in the frigid water and cold temperatures.

     Between both planes, eight servicemen were lost.

     The crew of the B-47 consisted of:

     (Pilot) Capt. James B. Reddig, 27, of Webster, N.Y.

     (Co-pilot) Capt. Milton S. Stone, 32, Normal, Ill.

     (Navigator) Capt. Frank Velasquez, 31, of Brooklyn, N.Y.

     (Instructor Pilot) Major Charles E. Michigan, 34, of Medford, Mass.

     The crew of the KC-135 consisted of:

     (Pilot) Capt. Nolan W. Payn, 32, of Lampassas, Texas.

     (Co-pilot) Capt. Robert G. Lowe, 29, of Arlington, VA.

     (Navigator) Lt. Milburn D. Taylor, 22, of Carbondale, Ill.

     Mstr. Sgt. Carey A. Addison Jr., 32, of Louisiana. 

Source: New York Times, “8 Crewmen Lost In Fueling Crash”, February 27, 1965


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