September 15, 1996 in Nation/World

Crashes Marred Other Fairchild Shows

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Fairchild Air Force Base has been the site of three crashes in the last nine years, and all have been related to aerobatic maneuvers for air shows.

But Saturday’s crash of a CAP-10 aerobatic plane, which injured pilot Robert Heale, was the first to occur during an actual show.

On June 24, 1994, a B-52 practicing for the upcoming Aerospace Days air show, crashed and killed the four men on board.

The bomber was the last on the base, which was making the change from a B-52 wing to become the nation’s largest KC-135 tanker facility.

The B-52 was flying low over the runway when it made a steep climb followed by a sharply banked curve. It stalled and slid to the ground, coming apart in a fiery crash.

Air Force investigators later said the plane was attempting unauthorized maneuvers and pilot, Lt. Col. Arthur “Bud” Holland had a history of unsafe flying. His supervisor, Col. William Pellerin, later pleaded guilty to dereliction of duty to avoid a court martial, and several other officers received career-ending reprimands.

On March 13, 1987, a KC-135 crashed in a field near the commissary while practicing for an air show routine. Six people on board and one on the ground were killed.

The tanker was to be part of a new aerobatic team for the Strategic Air Command that would feature maneuvers with a B-52. The low-flying tanker probably was caught in turbulent air rolling off the wings of the bomber, lost control and did not have enough room to recover, investigators said.

The air show routine included maneuvers that were beyond the large plane’s capabilities, investigators added. Plans for the team, the Thunderhawks, were scrapped under orders from Congress.

Other crashes at Fairchild include:

April 15, 1952: 15 members of a B-36 bomber died in a fiery crash during a pre-dawn takeoff.

March 29, 1954: A B-36 crashed just beyond the runway on takeoff, killing 7.

Dec. 12, 1957: A B-52 crashed into a field near Airway Heights a few minutes after take-off because of faulty wiring for a motor that operated part of the plane’s control panels. Only the tailgunner survived.

Sept. 8, 1958: Thirteen died when two B-52s practicing landings collided over Airway Heights. Sept. 10, 1962: A KC-135 crashed into Mount Kit Carson, near Mount Spokane, killing 44 people after a navigational mistake.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

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