Sandia, NM (Vicinity) Bomber Accidentally Shot Down, Apr 1961
MISSILE ACCIDENT IS PROBED; TWO MORE SURVIVORS FOUND.
By A UPI Special Reporting Team.
Albuquerque, N.M. (UPI) - The Air Force today intensified its investigation to determine what caused a Sidewinder air-to-air missile to be launched from a jet fighter plane into a B52 bomber during a training mission.
The accident killed three of the eight crewmen of the Strategic Air Command bomber. The fourth and fifth survivors were found alive Sunday - nearly two days after they had bailed out of the doomed plane.
Haste became imperative in the investigation Sunday when the Defense Department issued an order halting all simulated attacks with missile carrying planes. The only exception to the order was in the use of unmanned target drones or towed targets.
Air Force officers emphasized that air-to-air missiles such as the Sidewinder are vital to the nation's defense and the only way for a flier to learn to use them properly is in simulated attacks.
The two survivors found Sunday were Staff Sgt. MANUEL MIERAS, 23, of Flagstaff, Ariz., the bomber's crew chief, and Capt. RAY C. OBEL, 28, of Logan, Ohio, the co-pilot.
Both bailed out and survived not only the crash but a mountain blizzard. A helicopter was attracted by a red flag MIERAS had hung out, and picked him up about 9:30 a.m., EST.
The crew of the helicopter found MIERAS playing with a deck of cards, despite a badly broken leg, a frozen foot and cuts. He had taken refuge in a rancher's line cabin and made himself a crutch by trimming the branches from a bush.
OBEL was picked up on a hill about two hours later. He had spread out his parachute to attract attention, was broadcasting on his survival kit radio and shining a mirror at planes that passed over. He suffered a fractured spine but felt well enough within hours to give a detailed account of his ordeal.
The plane went down at 2:30 p.m., EST, Friday. The survivors couldn't be seen from the air until Sunday because a blizzard covered the mountain area where they were found, about 50 miles northwest of Albuquerque.
Ride In Copters.
Helicopters brought MIERAS and OBEL down to Sandia (Army0 Base Hospital at Albuquerque.
Capt. GEORGE D. JACKSON, 27, Richwood, W. Va.; Capt. DONALD D. BLODGELL, 30, Kalamazoo, Mich., and Staff Sgt. RAYMOND H. SINGLETON, 27, Havre de Grace, Md., were all rescued Friday before nightfall.
Ten airmen, including Maj. Gen. Perry B. Griffith, deputy inspector general for safety, went up in helicopters to recover the bodies of Capt. STEPHEN C. CARTER, 29, East Hartford, Conn.; Capt. PETER GENERIS, 30, Albuquerque, and 2nd Lt. GLEN V. BAIR, 24, Kemmerer, Wyo., from the wreckage. They were brought to the morgue at Sandia.
The victims and the survivors - all of whom parachuted from the bomber - were found within a few miles of each other on a 9,800-foot mesa.
Anderson Daily Bulletin Indiana 1961-04-10