Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Coming Soon! Lots To Be Happy About!

I have ordered two batches of accident reports from AFHRA in the last two months. I found some long lost acident reports today, which I had mistaken for some of my wife's papers (they were neat and tidy, my stuff is always crumpled and messy, who would've guessed?). And a friend of mine is sending me a couple pieces of informatin that I don't have! Oh, and best of all, on Saturday, I will be at the decommissioning ceremony of the USS Kitty Hawk. She will likely be the last carrier decommisioned until Enterprise ends her career. She is definitely the last US carrier powered by non-nuclear means. I will take plenty of pictures of Bremerton NSY while I am there...or as many as I can without the wife taking away the camera because I am taking too many pictures of Bremerton NSY!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

B-17F #42-2998 or 2993, UPDATED

This is, of course, a B-17G. F models are more difficult to come by.

On the morning of June 21, 1943, at about 10:20AM, B-17F #42-2998, plioted by Lyle E. Graham, broke apart in mid-air and fell to the ground some 30 miles SW of Moses Lake, Washington. All eight men aboard perished. They were members of the 352nd bombardment squadron of the 396th bombardment group.

The ship left Moses Lake Army Air Field with 10 bombs on a routine training mission.

Mr. E. J. Barnes was standing in his driveway when it happened. He saw the aircraft at about 6000 feet in a 45 degree dive, apparently spinning to the left. At an altitude of about 3000 feet the aircraft came apart. With him was Mr. F. W. Richerson. Both drove to the scene of the crash and arrived about 30 minutes later. They were the first at the scene of the crash. A small army liason plane landed about 15 minutes later and one of the two crew stayed with the wreck when it took off again.

The report includes the statements from several individuals. Most add no information to the report. On the other hand, there are a few that appear to offer some explanation or information that might have been helpful in determining the cause of the crash. One radio operator on another B-17 about 10 miles away reported seeing a B-17 apparently practicing stalls, and that it seemed "out of the ordinary," but he did not see it crash. Another aircraft was apparently nearby when 2998 crashed. The pilot stated that he saw the tail and then wings depart the aircraft, and had to change his heading to avoid possible 'chutes or wreckage.

The "Agent" who took the statements is interesting in his inclusion of his own opinion of the interviewees. One, the Chief of Police of the city of Moses Lake, he had a strong opinion of: "It is the opinion of this agent....that Mr. McClean is the type of person tht would be eager to give information in order to be involved in any investigtion made."

Given the information in this accident report, it seems likely that the pilot had been practicing stalls after dropping their bombs and somehow either got disoriented or lost control. The aircraft went into dive and broke up. There was no explosion, although there were some small fires at the scene of the crash. The report indicates that the majority of the wreckage was eventully recovered, despite covering a large area.
The following crewmen were aboard the aircraft:
2nd Lt. Lyle E. Graham, pilot
2nd Lt. Kenneth F. Westover, co-pilot
2nd Lt. Russell H. Wolff Jr. ,bombadier
Sgt. Charles H. Land, engineer
Sgt. Guy H. Reeves, radio operator
Sgt. John J. Babb, radio operator(?)
Sgt. Jackson B. Woodley, gunner
Sgt. Lois S. Sacerino, gunner

This page shows an engine and two props, plus an instrument panel.

This photo shows a pair of .50 cal machine guns

*Author's Note: This crash has been referred to as #42-2993 in most instances (i.e., several databases and other referrence works), but upon viewing the actual report it is, without doubt #42-2998. I originally based this on the fact that the threes in this type-font had flat tops and the eights had round tops. The rough copies of the first page had a round topped digit as the last of the serial. Tonight, I was leafing through the report and found the photos clearly marked 2998 in someone's handwriting.

I was asking my wife her opinion of the writing when she said, "Hello! Eight!!" She pointed at a photo of the tail number that I had overlooked...Clearly and without a doubt an eight.

I want to thank Mr. G. Gould for his sharp eyes and his kind emails! He is the one who called attention to the discrepancy between the AAIR database (Aviation Archeology Investigation & Research site) and this post. The funny thing is I used the AAIR database to obtain this report, so it would seem that even the USAF Historical Research Agency has it filed under 2993. It is for people like Mr. Gould that I created this site. Thank you Mr. Gould.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Welcome! USS George H. W. Bush

This day, CVN-77 was commissioned. Numerous dignitaries and presidents were on hand to make speeches. I, alas, was not present. No, I shall be seeing the ship she replaces safely out of commission, instead. Yes, it was a happy day for the crew of the GHWB. CNN covered it for awhile, but the news crew was easily bored and went on to other subjects. No mention was made of the ship that has served the Navy and the country for 40 plus years. It will be a sad day January 30, but today is a happy day for the GHWB, may she sail true and never fire in anger.

Carriers ARE cool, though. Have airport, will travel.

Monday, January 5, 2009

BAe's Little Trainer That Could

One day early this last summer I stood outside one of the schools and saw two white jets flying in formation finish their down wind leg for a landing at the huge airport of Yakima. I had trouble seeing them. They seemed smallish, and they did not look like anything I had ever seen. I even called the Air Museum. The people there knew nothing of aviation in the modern era, I suspect the last airplane the person I spoke to on the phone was able to identify was a Sopwith Pup. I was disappointed. I could not jump in my truck and go see, simply because that would have been an hour round trip and a waste of gas and I wouln't get paid for it, either. They had appeared to be in Navy trainer colors, but I knew the T-2 Buckeye had been retired. They did not look like T-38s...I couldn't figure it. I even, briefly, entertained the idea that they might be A-4s...but no, they appeared to have horizontal stabilizers...then I forgot to look it up...and the memory slipped from my consciousness. Until today.

This morning I was looking up the USS Kitty Hawk (looking forward to seeing her t the decommissioning), then looked to see what other ships were homeported at Bremerton (which is where I found this site. Want to know what ship is assigned to the port you are interested in? Have a look!) and I found the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) site. She is based at Everett, Washington. While I was looking at that site I found some pictures of an unfamiliar plane.

Now, I know I have a blog that seems to indicate I might have some knowledge of aircraft. I do. I simply, due to the massive number of aircraft types, have generally limited my interests to combat and transport aircraft. Trainer types just aren't that interesting to me usually, so I feel I have some justification for not knowing what they were.

The aircraft in question was a T-45 Goshawk. It is a design from British Aerospace (BAe), and was originally called the Hawk. The British use it as their training aircraft. Apparently Boeing and BAe are both producing parts of the aircraft. It is a small aircraft; only 38 feet long with a 30 foot wingspan. There is room for an instructor and a student. The T-45 has been modified for carrier landings. They are designed to have a 14,400 hour lifespan, which is figured at "720 hours a year in a 'carrier environment'"

If you want to learn more, and you should, because, believe me I am discovering that maybe trainers are not so boring after all. Here are some sites to have a look. First, this one has some good info on all military aircraft. Second, this one is about Navy tech. Third, this one is good for basic, fast facts. And finally, here is the Lincoln's site. They have some righteous pictures, some of which I am using here to illustrate the type for you.
does that tail pipe look a bit off center to you, too?