[A]Think you're having a bad day?[A]

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Let'sgoflying!, Dec 14, 2010.

  1. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Dave Taylor
    You're not. You're really not.

    http://www.air-and-space.com/b-36 wrecks.htm#44-92035

    corrected link, sorry

    Aircraft Commander 1st Lt. Oliver Hildebrandt, Pilot 1st Lt. Walter Ross,
    and Co-pilot Captain Wilbur Evans, and a crew of thirteen took off from
    Carswell AFB in B-36B, 44-92035 of the 26th Bomb Squadron of the 7th Bomb
    Wing at 5:05 A.M. on November 22,1950. The planned 30-hour training
    mission consisted of air-to-air gunnery, bombing, simulated radar bombing,
    and navigational training.

    Immediately after take-off, the #4 alternator would not stay in parallel
    with the other three alternators, so it was taken off-line and de-excited
    three minutes into the flight. About one minute after the #4 alternator was
    shut down, flames 8 to 12 feet long erupted from around the air plug of the
    number-one engine. The left scanner reported the flames to the pilot. Six
    minutes after take-off, the flight engineer shut down the number-one
    engine, feathered its propeller, and expended one of its Methyl bromide fire
    extinguishing bottles.

    The mission continued on the power of the remaining five engines. 44-92035
    cruised to the gunnery range on Matagorda Island at an altitude of 5,000
    feet. It arrived at 7:00 A.M. and the gunners began practicing. Radar
    Observer S/Sgt. Ray Earl manned the tail turret. The charger for the right
    gun burned out, so he expended just half of his ammunition. Then the APG-3
    radar for the tail turret started acting up, so S/Sgt. Earl secured the
    set.

    Aircraft Commander 1st Lt. Oliver Hildebrandt noted that the vibration from
    firing the 20mm cannons increased significantly during the fourth gunnery
    pass. Immediately afterward, radar operator Captain James Yeingst notified
    Hildebrandt that the APQ-24 radar set blew up and was smoking. Vibration
    from the firing of the guns was causing shorting between the internal
    components of the radar. Then the liaison transmitter failed as well.

    The cannons in the left forward upper turret and the left rear upper turret
    stopped firing. The gunners attempted to retract the gun turrets, but the
    failed turrets would not retract. Gunner S/Sgt. Fred Boyd entered the turret
    bay, but other problems began to take precedence over the stuck turrets.
    Boyd was called out of the bay before he could manually crank the turret
    down.

    At 7:31 A.M. the number-three engine suffered an internal failure. The
    torque pressure fell to zero. The manifold pressure dropped to atmospheric
    pressure. The fuel flow dropped off, and the flight engineer could not
    stabilize the engine speed. The pilot shut down the number-three engine and
    feathered its propeller. The B-36B had only one operating engine on the left
    wing, so the pilot aborted the remainder of the training mission and set
    course for Kelly Air Force Base.

    Flight engineer Captain Samuel Baker retarded the spark, set the mixture
    controls to "normal", and set the engine RPMs to 2,500 to increase the power
    from the remaining engines. Unknown to Captain Baker, the vibration from the
    guns had disabled the electrical systems controlling the spark settings and
    fuel mixture. He immediately discovered that the turbo control knobs no
    longer affected the manifold pressure.

    The B-36B could not maintain its airspeed on the power of the four
    remaining engines. It descended about 1,000 feet and its airspeed bled off
    to 135 miles per hour. The pilot called for more power. The flight engineer
    attempted to increase engine speed to 2,650 RPM and enrich the fuel mixture,
    but got no response from the engines except for severe backfiring. The fuel
    mixture indicators for all of the engines indicated lean. The second flight
    engineer, M/Sgt. Edward Farcas, checked the electrical fuse panel. Although
    the fuses appeared to be intact, he replaced the master turbo fuse and all
    of the individual turbo fuses. He noticed that the turbo-amplifiers and mixture amplifiers were all cooler than normal. He climbed into the bomb bay to check the aircraft power panels and fuses, but could not find any problem there.

    Kelly Air Force Base had a cloud overcast at just 300 feet and the visibility was restricted to two miles. The weather at Bergstrom Air Force Base not as bad, with scattered clouds at 1,000 feet, broken clouds at 2,000 feet and 10 miles visibility. Carswell Air Force Base was clear with 10 miles visibility, but it was 155 miles farther away than Bergstrom. Air traffic control cleared all airspace below 4,000 feet ahead of the crippled B-36B. Aircraft Commander Hildebrandt was flying on instruments in
    thick clouds.

    The poor weather at Kelly Air Force Base convinced Hildebrandt to change
    course from Kelly to Carswell Air Force Base, passing by Bergstrom Air Force
    Base on the way in case the airplane could not make it to Carswell. Bombardier Captain Robert Nelson made two attempts to salvo the 1,500 pounds of practice bombs in the rear bomb bay, but the bomb bay doors would not open by automatic

    or manual control, or emergency procedure.

    There was no way to dump fuel to reduce the weight of the B-36B. The flight
    engineers resorted to holding down the switches used to prime the fuel system

    in an attempt to increase fuel flow to the engines. M/Sgt. Edward Farcas held

    down the prime switches for the number-two and number-four engines while

    Captain Baker held down the prime switch for the number-five engine and

    operated the flight engineer's panel. The configuration of the switches did not

    allow them to prime the number-five engine and the number-six engine at the

    same time.

    The high power demand coupled with the lean fuel mixture made the cylinder
    head temperatures of the engines climb to 295 degrees C. Flight engineer Baker jockeyed the throttles, decreasing the throttle setting of the engine with the highest cylinder head temperature until another engine grew even hotter. The high temperature caused the gasoline/air mixture in the cylinders to detonate before the pistons reached top dead center, diminishing power and damaging the engines.

    Despite the critical situation with the engines, Aircraft Commander Hildebrandt decided to continue past Bergstrom Air Force Base to Carswell. Bergstrom was overcast and its runway was only 6,000 feet long. Carswell offered a much longer runway. By the time the B-36B reached Cleburne , the backfiring on all engines increased in violence. The number-2, number-5, and number-6 engines were running at 70% power and the number-4 engine was producing only 20% power. The airspeed had dropped off to 130 miles per hour.

    Aircraft Commander Hildebrandt attempted to restart the number-one engine, the one that had spouted flames on take-off, but fuel was not getting to its induction system. He tried to restart the number-three engine, but could not unfeather the propeller on that engine. As the bomber passed to the west of Cleburne , the right scanner reported dense white smoke, oil, and metal particles coming from the number-five engine.

    After a short while the number-five engine lost power, and Aircraft Commander Hildebrandt feathered the propeller on that engine while still twenty-one miles from Carswell Air Force Base. The B-36B could not stay airborne on the power of the three remaining failing engines. It was flying at just 125 miles per hour, seven miles per hour above the stall speed, losing both altitude and airspeed. Howard McCullough and W. Boeten were flying Civil Aeronautics Authority DC-3 N342 near Cleburne. They were notified by Meacham Tower to be on the lookout for 44-92035. They spotted
    it about five miles south of Cleburne. They observed that the number-one and number-three propellers were feathered and the number-five engine was on fire. They turned to follow the descending bomber. Aircraft Commander Hildebrandt ordered the crew to bail out of the stricken bomber.

    Bombardier Captain Robert Nelson had bailed out of airplanes on two previous
    occasions. He had crash landed twice and ditched once. He was the first man
    to bail out from the forward crew compartment. He suffered contusions of his
    lower spine when he landed.

    Radar Operator Captain James Yeingst responded to stress with laughter and
    jokes. He was a bit giddy before the bailout. He was the second man to exit
    from the forward crew compartment. His parachute streamed after he pulled
    the rip cord. He passed Captain Nelson going down. Captain Yeingst's
    parachute mushroomed open just before he hit the ground, but he suffered
    fatal injuries.

    Co-pilot Captain Wilbur Evans was the third man to exit from the forward
    crew compartment. He had bailed out of airplanes twice before and crash
    landed several times during WW-II. This time he broke both bones in his
    lower right leg when he landed.

    Navigator Captain Horace Stewart had previously tried to get off flying
    status because he felt that the B-36 was too dangerous. It is reported that
    during the hour before bailout, he was tense, nervous, and chain-smoking. He
    was the fourth man to bail out from the forward crew compartment. He pulled
    his rip cord right as he exited the forward escape hatch on the left side of
    the fuselage. His parachute opened and pulled him toward the number three
    propeller. His head hit the downward pointing blade of the propeller,
    killing him instantly.

    Radio Operator Cpl. Paul Myers followed Captain Stewart out the escape
    hatch. Myers landed with minor injuries. Flight Engineer M/Sgt. Edward
    Farcas jumped head first through the exit hatch of the forward crew
    compartment right after Cpl. Myers. His parachute did not open when he
    pulled the rip cord. He pulled the parachute out of its pack with his hands
    and landed with only minor injuries.

    Radar Mechanic Robert Gianerakis and Flight Engineer Captain Samuel Baker
    were the next to escape from the forward compartment. Both landed with only
    minor injuries. Radio Operator Sgt. Armando Villareal bailed out after
    Captain Baker. Villareal did not trust his parachute to open, so he pulled
    the rip cord while he was still in the forward crew compartment. He held his
    parachute in his arms as he jumped feet first through the escape hatch.
    Despite his unorthodox method of escape, he landed with only minor injuries.

    Pilot 1st Lt. Walter Ross was the next to last to leave the forward
    compartment. He landed with only minor injuries. Gunner S/Sgt. Andrew
    Byrne and Radar Observer S/Sgt. Ray Earl were the first two crew members to
    bail out of the rear crew compartment. Both landed with only minor injuries.
    Gunner Cpl. Calvin Martin was the third man to exit the rear crew
    compartment. He was swinging under his parachute as he hit the ground. He
    broke his right ankle as he landed. He fell backward onto a rock, fracturing
    his third lumbar vertebra and compressing his tailbone. Gunner S/Sgt. Ronald
    Williams followed Cpl. Martin out the rear escape
    hatch. He landed with only minor injuries. Gunner S/Sgt. Fred Boyd was the
    last man to exit the rear crew compartment. He called to Aircraft Commander
    Hildebrandt over the intercom to let him know that everyone had escaped from
    the aft compartment. When he turned back to the exit hatch, it had fallen
    shut. He had to open the hatch again to make his escape. He broke the fibula
    of his left leg when he landed farther to the north than the other crew
    members.

    After S/Sgt. Boyd reported that all other crew members had bailed out of the
    rear compartment, Aircraft Commander Hildebrandt set the autopilot and
    jumped clear when the bomber was less than 1,000 feet above the ground. He
    and nine other crew members escaped from the B-36B with only minor injuries.
    When McCullough and Boeten in DC-3, N342 saw the parachutes of the escaping
    crew members, they announced the bail-out on the emergency frequency of
    121.25 megacycles.

    Each report of Emergency Parachute Jump indicates that the incident occurred
    20 miles south southeast of Carswell Air Force Base. The descent of the B-36B was witnessed by Mr. Buck Bell and his wife, who lived about 5 to 7 miles southwest of Crowley, Texas. Mr. Bell saw the crew members parachuting from the bomber, but did not see it hit the ground about one mile north of his house. Mr. James Bandy and his wife were on the road to Cleburne about 4 miles from their house on Route 1 near Joshua when hey spotted the B-36B trailing smoke, flying in a nose-high attitude. They saw it hit the ground in a level attitude, raising a cloud of dust.

    The B-36B descended straight ahead in a nose-high attitude for a mile after
    Aircraft Commander Hildebrandt bailed out. It stalled, pitched nose down,
    and impacted in a terraced field on Less Armstrong's Dairy, 14 miles south
    of Carswell Air Force Base, 2 miles west of the South leg FTW range, and six
    miles west of Crowley at 9:50 in the morning. The forward crew compartment
    separated and folded underneath the rest of the fuselage. The tail section
    broke off, and the rear crew compartment came away from the mid-fuselage as
    the wreckage slid 850 feet along the ground and twisted to the right.

    The rear sections of the airplane remained largely intact. The elevation at
    the crash site was approximately 700 feet. Mr. W. Doggett witnessed the
    bail-out and crash from his home on Route 1 near Joshua. The B-36B impacted
    about 2-1/2 miles north of his house. He drove to the crash site in his
    pickup truck and helped the surviving crew members to regroup.

    Four minutes after the crash, McCullough and Boeten in DC-3, N342 reported
    that two Navy aircraft were circling the wreckage. The wreckage smoldered
    for about eight minutes before a fire broke out in the number-six engine.
    The 15,000 gallons of remaining fuel consumed the forward fuselage and
    wings. The civilians and crew members were driven away from the crash site
    by exploding ammunition and the knowledge of the presence of 1,500 pounds of
    bombs aboard the airplane.

    Read this the next time you think you're having a bad day.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2010
  2. bbchien

    bbchien Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Bruce C
    I'm not.
    But after a fire he continued?(!)
     
  3. TangoWhiskey

    TangoWhiskey Touchdown! Greaser!

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  4. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    I would have turned the sucker around after one engine caught fire. That way my day wouldn't be so bad. Was there some kind of minimum equipment list that included only five of the engines?
     
  5. Tom-D

    Tom-D Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Yeah, the dreaded 5 engine approach..
     
  6. Tom-D

    Tom-D Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I've known a couple old Navy flight crew members that had prior AF service and 36 time, and they quit the airforce and joined the NAVY because the NAVY did not have 36s.
     
  7. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    If one of my engines catches fire, I begin to ask myself what's keeping the rest of them from doing likewise. I assume that if one did it, the rest may follow suit, and get the aircraft on terra firma and keep it there until the incendiary engine is replaced or someone figures out what was wrong with it and repairs said defect. Call me a coward, I'm cool with it. I've lived a long time doing dangerous things.
     
  8. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Sadly, that story sounds like a typical day underway when I was Chief Engineer on a USN Amphib.
     
  9. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    Engines typically caught fire? If so, I am quite relieved I never joined the military. Can't see a reason to fly such a deathtrap in peacetime.
     
  10. jsstevens

    jsstevens En-Route

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    Unfortunately the simple and correct answer is: so you're ready to fly it in wartime. The balance between safety and effective training has always been difficult for the military to manage (because it is inherently hard to manage, not because the military is bad at it) and in war as in flying you react the way you train. Risks are inevitable, the question is how much is to much?

    John
     
  11. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Well, the engines themselves weren't always catching on fire, but we did have fires.....and flooding....and constant mechanical failures to make life interesting. I once went from full plant (4 main propulsion diesels online) to completely dead in the water in the span of less than 5 minutes while entering port. Let's just say that our planes are in much better shape than our ships.
     
  12. Tom-D

    Tom-D Ejection Handle Pulled

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    1 engine out in any aircraft with 4 or more should be a non event. Just because one caught fire doesn't mean they all will.

    Mission requirements dictates if you return or not, but when you start getting multiple discrepancies that is a different story, usually ending in a smoking hole.

    as I read this story I thought it was a normal NATOPs Check ride.