Memorial Celebration and Dedication of B-52 Crash Site Saturday in Greenville [VIDEO]
On January 24th, 1963, nine members of the U.S. Air Force left from a base in Massachusetts aboard a B-52 Stratofortress-C. The mission was to practice low-level navigation in order to avoid the latest soviet radar technology. They left the base just after noon and were due back at 5:30 that afternoon.
The crew was flying at 280 knots at an altitude of 500 feet. Outside it was minus 14 degrees Fahrenheit. Below them was a mountain covered in 5 feet of snow. The wind was gusting at over 40 mph causing the plane to experience turbulence. The experienced pilot attempted to fly above it.
The aircraft made a sudden 40 degree right turn and began going straight down. The pilot, Lt. Col. Dante E. Bulli, attempted to level the plane, but when he couldn’t, he ordered ejection. The navigator, Capt. Gerald J. Adler, ejected first, followed by Bulli and the copilot, Maj. Robert J. Morrison. There was not enough time for the others to get out before the plane crashed into the side of Elephant Mountain, just north of Greenville, at 2:52pm (kind of ironic given that the plane was a B-52). Major Robinson died when he hit a tree while parachuting.
Bulli landed in a tree and was able to survive the night in 28 below zero temps by using a sleeping bag from his survival kit. Adler struck the snow covered ground about 2,000 feet from the wreckage at a force estimated at 16 times the force of gravity. His skull was fractured and three ribs were broken. The impact bent his ejection seat enough that he couldn’t get his survival kit out. He wrapped himself up in his parachute, which did not deploy upon ejection. Both his feet were frost bitten and, although severely injured, he was one of the two who survived.
Bulli and Adler were rescued the next day (over 80 rescuers had to plow through snow drifts up to 15 feet high to make their way into the woods ten miles) by the Maine Fish and Game Department, the Maine State Police, the Civil Air Patrol, Air Force Units from Dow Air Force Base in Bangor, and volunteers from New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
According to the press release, tomorrow, the 25th, there will be a commemorative service at the Moosehead Riders Snowmobile Club on the Scammon Road in Greenville, starting at 10 in the morning. Below is the agenda:
The purpose of this event is to dedicate and honor the crash site as a tragic historical event that occurred in our area, and to provide a meaningful experience for the participants, be they persons who assisted with the rescue, family members of the victims, survivors of the crash or interested visitors to the site.
B-52 Memorial AGENDA
50th Anniversary Memorial
25 May 2013
(Subject to change)
Time Activity Point of Contact
0930 Arrive at Club House All
1000 Club House Memorial
Color Guard Maine Warden Service
Welcome MRSC/ John Cobb Pres.
Intro of Families/Special Guests TBD
National Anthem Maine Air Guard
Laying of Wreath American Legion
Chaplin’s Comments Maine Air Guard
Taps Maine Air Guard
Administrative Instructions Jeff Pomerleau
1030 Travel to Crash Site All
1115 Arrive at Crash Site All
1130 Crash Site Memorial All
Laying of the Wreath American Legion
Amazing Grace Maine Air Guard
Routine Training Flight TBD
Offering of Prayer Maine Air Guard
Three Flag Folding Ceremony Maine Air Guard
Honors Salute/Taps Maine Air Guard
Closing Comments MRSC
1215 Depart Crash Site All
1300 Arrive MRSC Reception
Flag Folding Presentation Maine Air Guard