Orlando, FL Bomber Crashes, Mar 1972
CIVILIANS HURT; BUILDINGS BURN.
Orlando, Fla. (AP) -- Seven Air Force crewmen died and at least eight civilians were injured Friday when a burning B52 bomber nosedived into a residential neighborhood and sprayed homes with a sheet of blazing jet fuel.
The huge, eight-engined plane, which had reported a fire on board a few minutes before the crash carved a 150-foot crater in the field where it crashed. It slammed into the earth about 50 yards from the nearest house and a quarter mile from the McCoy Air Force Base runway where it was trying to land.
McCoy is just south of Orlando.
The eight civilians injured were identified as:
NANCY ROBERTSON, 36, and three of her children, ROBIN, 15; DANNY, 10, and LAURA, 9, all treated for minor burns at Orange Memorial Hospital.
ANTHONY ELLINGTON, 10, listed in very cricital condition.
BILLY GARLAND, 12; DONALD GARLAND, 7, and CHARLES GARLAND, 5, all listed in satisfactory condition at Florida Hospital.
Orange County sheriff's deputies said two buildings were completely gutted and two others suffered heavy damage as the wreckage continued to burn fiercely more than an hour after the crash.
One Air Force man who helped recover the bodies of the crew from smouldering wreckage that was scattered over a quarter-mile said only three of the bodies were recognizable.
The Air Force said the names of the seven men aboard the eight-engined bomber would be withheld pending notification of next of kin.
Two witnesses said it looked as if the pilot made an effort to guide his crippled plane away from McCoy's civilian terminal and populated areas and crash it in a nearby woods.
"I heard the plane first. I'm just out of the Marine Corps and I know the sound of an engine in trouble," said TOM SMITH, 24, who smashed down a redwood fence to rescue MRS. ROBINSON and her three children who were trapped in their yard near their burning home.
Florence Morning News South Carolina 1972-04-01
ORLANDO AREA AN INFERNO AS B52 BOMBER CRASHES.
Orlando, Fla. (UPI) -- A crippled Air Force B52 jet bomber, trying to make the runway at McCoy Air Force Base, crashed in a sizzling inferno near a row of houses Friday, killing all seven crewmen and injuring eight persons on the ground.
The crash, which occurred a quarter-mile short of the runway, destroyed four houses and heavily damaged two others.
The plane plowed a 150-yard furrow in the ground within 50 to 100 yards of the houses of the Silver Beach residential section and sloshed flaming jet fuel through streets and backyards.
"I was standing in my friend's front yard and I heard the engines -- they sounded weird," said 17-year-old JAMES REEVES. "I live around here and I know what they sound like .. but these were like screaming."
The youth said he saw the plane "coming straight down -- coming down sort of sideways, slipping over" and when it hit, amushroom cloud of flame and black smoke shot into the sky.
The wing of the plane which has a wingspan of 185 feet, appeared to have hit one house, "and you can't even tell the house was there," Reeves said.
Lt. Gen Russell E. Dougherty, commander of the 2nd Air Force, said a fire apparently broke out in the No. 7 engine on the right wing of the eight-engine plane. Dougherty refused to speculate on the cause of the fire, but he said it was improbable that it was caused by lightning.
He said it appeared the crew did not bail out because they thought they could make it to the runway.
"They almost made it," he said.
Dougherty, who flew to Orlando from his headquarters at Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, La., spent most of the first hour he was in town at the hospital bed of 10-year-old ANTHONY ELLINGTON, the most seriously injured civilian in the crash.
He said the Air Force had made arrangements to fly young ELLINGTON to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Tex. for treatment of burns.
The other civilians injured were identified as MRS. NANCY ROBERTSON and her three children ROBIN, 5, LAURA, 9, and DANNY, 10; BILLY GARLAND, 9, and his brothers DAN and CHARLES, ages 12 and 7 respectively. CHARLES was treated at a hospital and later released.
The dead crewmen, all members of the 306th Bombardment Wing at McCoy were identified as:
CAPT. WENDELL W. CAMPBELL, 30, the pilot, of Washington, D.C..
CAPT. BARRY E. APPLEBEE, 26, co-pilot, Dormansville, N.Y.
MAJ. JAMES J. HAMMONS, 37, radar-bombadier, Shawnee, Okla.
1st LT. ROBERT HEATHERLY, 26, navigator, Mount Vernon, N.Y.
MAJ. WILLIAM E. KESLER, 41, electronic warfare officer, Kesler's Fuquay-Varina, N.C.
M.SGT. ALLEN H. MURRAY, 53, gunner, Philadelphia, Pa.
LT. COL. GEORGE M. GAMACHE, 42, instructor-navigator, Sumerset, Mass.
Fort Pierce News Tribune Florida 1971-04-02