Hunts Mesa, AZ Bomber Crash, Oct 1984


Kayenta, Ariz. (AP) -- An unarmed B-52 bomber on a low-level training flight with seven people aboard crashed in remote Monument Valley, leaving one person dead and another missing in windblown snow that hampered rescue efforts, authorities said today.
"They all bailed out," said Maj. David MacNamee at Strategic Air Command headquarters in Omaha, Neb.
Of the cause of the crash, he said, "It could have been a million things."
A second B-52 trailing the jet picked up radio signals from survivors, MacNamee said. He said there were conflicting reports about whether the bomber had crashed into a mesa or a valley in the rugged Navajo Indian reservation terrain in northeastern Arizona.
"There is one deceased," said John Boylan, spokesman for the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
Boylan said early today he had received information from the Air Force that the missing crewman had been found, but MacNamee said there had been a communications mix-up between the Air Force and DPS and that the crewman remained missing.
Capt. Robert Ballew at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane said a helicopter from Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M., picked up the crash victims early today.
Maj. Jack Higginbotham, also at Fairchild, said the five survivors were taken by helicopter to San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington, N.M.
"They all have some degree of injuries," said Higginbothan, "but no one is in guarded or critical condition."
A ground convoy left Kirtland, meanwhile, and planned to "drop off medical people," from the Air Force at Farmington before heading for the crash site, said George Pearce, a civilian spokesman at Kirtland.
The crash site is a spectacular area of mesas and buttes rising a thousand feet above the mile-high valley.
"You could be walking along level ground and suddenly be on the edge of a 400-foot cliff," Boylan said.
The plane took off from Fairchild around 3:45 p.m. MDT and was following an established 9-hour route known at IR-276 when it crashed around 8:57 p.m., said MacNamee and Maj. John Higginbotham at Fairchild, where the bomber was part of SAC's 92nd Wing.

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