Mather Air Force Base, CA B-52G Bomber Crash, Dec 1982


United Press International.
Nine crewmen on a B-52G bomber died in a fiery crash in a muddy California pasture near a California airbase.
The pilots of the fuel-laden Stratofortress bomber managed to steer it away from buildings, gasoline pumps and busy roads, witnesses said.
The bomber and another one that had taken off 10 seconds earlier were practicing quick-takeoff maneuvers Thursday when it went down about 1 1/2 miles from Mather Air Force Base, officials say.
The airplane, carrying 290,000 gallons of fuel, blew up "like a napalm bomb" and made a fireball about 250 feet in diameter, witnesses said.
It left a 400-yard-long swath of burning debris, killed at least three horses and four people had to be treated for smoke inhalation.
"They were awful close, about 10 seconds apart," Jim Carver, a contractor whose office is a quarter-mile away, said of the planes. "He might have veered trying to get out of the end of the turbulence" caused by the leading bomber.
"The fireball was 200 or 300 feet in diameter," he said. "It was all fuel. If it had been bombs, we wouldn't be here to tell about it."
Carver and other witnesses said by banking right at the last moment, the pilot appeared to be trying to avoid nearby buildings and gasoline pumps. His huge craft also missed roads busy with morning traffic, coming down about 100 feet from a farm house, barns and sheds.
"I heard the engine roar really loud," said Richard Nide, who was riding a garbage truck about 400 yards away from the crash. "He looked like he was going to go off to the left. Then he banked hard right and the right wing clipped the ground and exploded."
"It looked like he was trying to pull out of it. It was great ball of fire and I could feel the heat all the way to my window. It scared the holy hell out of me."
Both planes had left the runway in a low-level training procedure called "Minimum Interval Take Off."
"MITO takeoffs are used when you want to get airborne in a hurry -- something less than a minute," Lt. Col. Mike Edwards, operations officer for the 441st Bomber Squadron, explained after the crash 10 miles east of the Capitol.
He declined to speculate on the cause of the crash. Air Force investigators convened a board of inquiry within hours of the crash.
No nuclear weapons were aboard the plane, a modified version of a 20-year-old model due for fitting with the air-launched Cruise missile. Sixteen B-52G's each carrying 12 Cruises, became operational Thursday at Griffiss Air Force Base, near Rome, N.Y., the Air Force said.
The victims were identified as:
Maj. JAMES H. YORK, 43, South Bend, Ind., the aircraft commander.
Capt. LYLE A. BRUNNER, 32, Florence, Mont., a bombardier instructor.
Capt. DENNIS E. DAVIS, Hililsboro, Ore., a navigator.
Master Sgt. GERE E. LeFEVER, 42, Conestoga, Pa., an aircraft gunner.
2nd Lt. SCOTT A. SEMMEL, 23, Levittown, Pa., a student co-pilot.
2nd Lt. PETER M. RILEY, Woonsocket, R. I., a sudent co-pilot.
2nd Lt. RICHARD P. ROBESON, JR., 27, Freeport, Ill., a student navigator.
2nd Lt. BENJAMIN C. BERNDT, 24, Norwalk, Conn., a student navigator.
2nd Lt. DANIEL N. BADER, 25, Salt Lake City, Utah, a student navigator.
Intended for replacement by the B-1B bomber, B-52s have been used since the 1950s and often are older than the pilots who fly them.

Altoona Mirror Pennsylvania 1982-12-17


South of jackson rd, on

South of jackson rd, on Mayhew, next to the old gravel pit.


Is there a way for you to post them?

B-52 crash Mather

I have a copy of the Sacramento Bee that has photos
copy at the Travis AFB Heritage Center

B-52G Crash after MITO from Mather, CA

I grew up near the base and was at the SAM site off of Florin Road with my dad at the time. That is where people go to fly radio control aircraft. We saw the plane go down and burn, but I do not remember where it went down, exactly. I would like to visit the crash site. Can you help guide me to where it crashed? I seem to recall that it crashed south west of the runway. Thank you in advance.

Mather: Awful Day

I was running the 4AF McClellan AFB MARS Net that day, supporting a Mather AFB MARS team providing "Santa Claus" messages to an elementary school just west of Mather. "BREAKOFF. CLOSE NET. MAYDAY TRAFFIC FOLLOWS." Came from Navy LtCdr David Minton, who was located about 500 meters north of the main crash site. From my window at McClellan, I could see an awful black smoke column reaching up far into the sky. David took the Mather comm van from the school to the incident command post, and for the next several hours, provided the only link from the crash site to the command post at Mather AFB, as telephone lines had been burned and there were no cell phones at the time. The site was just outside the Land Mobile Radio range of Mather, and not distant enough to be reached by other systems then in use.

I also remember that day very

I also remember that day very well. I was on the search and recovery team that went and picked up those poor souls from that dreadful field. I was only 24 years old...after that day I aged tremendously. A few of us were on the front page of the Sacramento Bee the next day. I was the blonde skinny SSgt in front carrying that poor soul to the coroner's vehicle in the picture. If anybody has that photo or knows where I can get it...I would appreciate it.

sad memories

I worked in the sheet metal shop which had a good view of the flight line. Guess I tried to forget the sight that day until someone at church today asked me, "what kind of aircraft did I work on at Mather"? I could not fully answer his question for the lump in my throat, holding back tears. I remember counting other MITO take-offs which were usually 10 seconds apart. However, that day I only counted 8 seconds. I clearly saw the second aircraft struggle to get some clean air, then turn right banking into the ground. Guess some things you really never forget. I hope God played a part in the families recovery. We all prayed for the families of those on board.

Dan Bader

Dear Chris, I am Dan Bader's sister. I was watching about the helecopter crash at Elgin. Dan is never far from my mind, but I felt so much sorrow for the families today. I was touched by your comment and so happy others have fond memories of Dan. I hope your life has been wonderful!
Jane Bader Bugni

Thank you Bea that meant a

Thank you Bea that meant a lot to me. I wish I met my grand father but from the stories they told of him he sounds like one of the greatest men that ever lived

Mather B-52 Crash

I Remember that day fully like it was yesterday. I Was working over at the planetarium giving a christmas light show of what the sky might have looked like on Christ's birthday, when one of the volunteer Firefighter with the group beeper went off. We looked out of the planetarium, and saw the giant Fireball and I knew an aircraft had gone down. I Called the 323rd Security Police Desk Sergeant and I Was told that we had been recalled and to report to the squadron. Later, we were doing crash sight security, and I remember seeing the dead horses and charred ground. Later while performing perimeter security, a woman came up to my side and said one of the crew was her husband, and I had to tell her to go to the Entry Control Point. What a Day