Nobleboro, NY Air Force Tanker Crashes, Jan 1957


Griffiss Air Force Base, Jan. 25. -- The Air Force today sent two squads of investigators in to survey the wreckage of a tanker plane which crashed Tuesday night on a rocky ledge in the Adirondack vastness.
The pilot of a search plane spotted the wreckage yesterday on a mountainside about three miles north of the Herkimer County community of Nobleboro and 40 miles northeast of this base.
According to an Air Force announcement, two civilian identification experts from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio, were flown in to the demolished aircraft in an attempt to "positively identify" the crew members.
In addition, members of a crash investigation board from this base and Westover Field, Mass., went in on sleds to "sift evidence" in an attempt to determine the cause of the crash.
Members of the investigation board, headed by Col. GENE CHOLENDT from Westover, planned to stay at the scene. One Air Force spokesman said the board may remain at the crash site "several days" in order to complete the investigation.
Meanwhile, officials here announced the bodies of the airmen would not be brought out until tomorrow when the civilian team of GEORGE G. SCHWANDERER and RODGER D. GLASS could complete identification.
The Air Force said it plans to bring the bodies out by land rather then attempt to fly them out by helicopter.
It had been hoped that identification could be completed in time to move the bodies to this base before nightfall.
The possibility of heavy snow in the Adirondacks, forecast for over night, threatened to make the task more difficult tomorrow.
State Police Capt. Harold Muller said a roadway, passable for snowmobiles and tractors, was opened up this morning, and a detachment of troopers went to the scene to aid the Air Force personnel.
He said the trail was opened up from the end of Flatrock Rd., northwest out of Nobleboro to a point about two miles from the crash. From there, snowmobiles have packed down a trail the rest of the way, he said.
The bodies of the fliers will be brought out on a sled hauled by a snowmobile.

The Post Standard Syracuse New York 1957-01-26



Rome, Jan. 26. -- The bodies of seven air force men were brought here today from an Adirondack mountain top where their giant KC-97 tanker plane crashed Tuesday.
The bodies were carried out of the snowy wilds on a truck pulled by a tractor. They were transferred to ambulances at Noblesboro, about 40 miles northeast of here, and driven to Griffiss Air Force Base. They will be shipped home for burial.
An investigation board of 10 officers by Col. Gene Chelendt from Westover, Mass., Air Force Base, remained at the scene.
The members of the board, from Griffiss and Westover, are living in tents near the site of the crash. An Air Force spokesman said the board would stay on for another day or so -- until their inquiry is finished.
The Air Force also plans to take part of the wreckage from the area today or tomorrow. The plane's four engines will be included in the parts taken down from the mountain wilderness, an official said.
However, the terrain may hold up this part of the work. The heavy truck used to carry out the bodies, broke through ice over a spring on the road to Route 8, officials said, and the released water made the trail "mushy and impassable."
It is feared that the truck, loaded down with the heavy engines, may be trapped in the mire, officials said.
Coroner C. C. Whittemore of Herkimer County viewed the bodies at Noblesboro. He did not issue a verdict.
The tanker crashed while awaiting landing instructions at Griffiss after a training flight from Westover, where the seven crew members were stationed.

The Syracuse Herald-Journal New York 1957-01-27

Maj. CHARLES D. MELLINGER, 40, Tacoma, Wash., pilot.
1st Lt. FRED W. DEFRENCH, 25, Bedford, Ohio, co-pilot.



Hi Bob,

I grew up playing back in the woods where your Fathers plane crashed in Nobleboro NY. My Dad and Uncle had a hunting camp at the base of the knob where it happened and I used to climb the hill and collect a lot of the parts at 10 years old. When Terry and I went in in 2003 I found one of the instrument cases from the cockpit, the vert speed gyro that sits at the co-pilots left knee. If you would like to have this I can send it to you. georgemccawjr@gmaildotcom.

KC97 crash Nobelboro NY

Sure I can take you in. Might be better to wait til spring as deer season has started here now. It's pretty remote but we can get to about a 1/4 from wreckage with ATV's

I can help you.

I can help you. scottvanlaer@yahoo.com

Bob, I have not been to the

Bob, I have not been to the site but have directions and going there in the next couple weeks. I would be happy to go with you.

KC97 crash 1953


My father was in this crash; I am looking for it's location so I can visit the site. Can do?

KC97 crash Nobelboro NY

Went in last summer (2013) Still wreckage there on top of a rocky outcrop. Found a piece of Propeller and actually brought it out. The wreckage now is mostly buried but there still is plenty there. My dad went id the spring after the crash and remember him telling me the story when I was young, I'm now 53 and he has passed on. Only way in is by ATV or horse or hike.