KC-135

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KC-135A Stratotanker
(photo courtesy of USAF), KC-135 stratotanker crash, tanker crash in arizona, midair collision in airzona, KC-135 crash in arizona, tanker wreckage in phoenix

KC-135A STRATOTANKER s/n 57-1489
GRUMMAN YANKEE AA-1 N6160L:

KC-135 - Fatalities
LTC James Floor, 53
Maj Truman Young Jr., 48
LTC Ted Beam, 40
TSGT Donald Plough, 47

Grumman Yankee - Fatalities
James Breshears, 48, of Livermore,CA
Kenneth Gurtz, 36, Pleasanton, CA

We remember this crash well.  13 March 1982. It was a sad day for the Air National Guard at Sky Harbor.  It collided with a civilian Grumman Yankee on which the California pilot was unfamiliar with the local flight patterns.  The light plane struck the tail of the Stratotanker, the KC impacting in an inverted dive after the tail was severed.

The giant plane crashed on the Perryville Prison grounds, which is now a big medium-security women’s prison.  We emailed the warden asking to see the crash site and were astonished when the warden set up an appointment for us to do so.

After a security screening and background check, we met a very helpful assistant warden who took us out on the perimeter road to the crash site in a guard truck.  It is in a plowed field just off the perimeter fence near a prison maintenance yard.  The field is not cultivated, just cleared for security.

We were not allowed to search the field or leave the perimeter road.  With such a large plane a lot of wreckage probably remains in that field.

The Grumman Yankee impacted across the road in what is now an annexed addition to the prison with a similar plowed field for security.

We talked to numerous employees of the prison when were there, but none of them had worked there long enough to remember the crash. 


See NTSB report here:

http://ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?ev_id=20020917X02154&key=2


(photo courtesy of USAF), KC-135 stratotanker crash, tanker crash in arizona, midair collision in airzona, KC-135 crash in arizona, tanker wreckage in phoenix
Dusk take-off
(photo courtesy of USAF), KC-135 stratotanker crash, tanker crash in arizona, midair collision in airzona, KC-135 crash in arizona, tanker wreckage in phoenix
A familiar site in Phoenix
KC-135A crash in arizona
Crash Photo - Perryville Prison
Impact - Perryville Prison
Rudder and tail by the water tower
Fatal for the crew
Original Crash Report
Crash site today - prison grounds
An F-15E Strike Eagle is refueled by a KC-135 Stratotanker during opertions over Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Robert Wieland), kc-135 crash wreck in arizona
KC-135 feeding an F-15
Grumman Yankee crash site today
Grumman Yankee.
Newspaper article, Arizona Republic, KC-135 crash
Newspaper article, page two, Arizona Republic
Witness notes from Gary Underhill

We were contacted by Gary Underhill (Arizona ANG retired) regarding this KC-135 crash, and he gave us the following eyewitness account of this terrible crash:

Gary was an SP with Arizona Air Guard from 1981 to 1989.  He was ordered to stand guard over the KC-135 crash site.

He arrived the morning after it crashed; the wreck was still smoking.  He guarded it for more than two weeks after that from 6AM to 6PM (12 hr shifts), they would chopper in and out every day, keeping the looky-loos away from the wreck.  Some days the prison fed them in their chow hall.
 

He was told that the two aircraft impacted at 6,000 feet. 
NTSB also told them that the Grumman had hit the star on the rear fuselage of the KC and cut the tail off.   They found the civilian (Grumman) pilot’s body wedged into the tail of the KC-135.

A big part of the Grumman Yankee’s engine bounced across the field and landed in a big construction hole.
 

Gary described the search team forming a skirmish line about 30-men across and just marching forward searching for crew member remains to be sure that they recovered everything for the families so they could put them to rest.
 

Much of the Grumman landed on the paved, tree-lined road west of the prison, the rest in the plowed field across the road.  He said the inside of the Grumman was a very horrific sight that cannot be described here.
 

After NTSB and all the brass left, they walked all around in the wreck.  All 4 engines were clearly visible as were the wings and some of the crew compartment.
 

He said the Air Force finally trucked the wreck out but he is sure they didn’t get all the little stuff.
 

Gary described this as a very traumatic time for the Arizona ANG and one that he will never forget.  The tragic images are burned into his memory and he hopes that the crew of this KC-135 will not be forgotten.  Thanks very much to Gary Underhill for his eyewitness account.
 
SEE BELOW FOR PAGE TWO AND GARY'S PHOTOGRAPHS

Newspaper article, Arizona Republic, KC-135 crash
Newspaper article, Page 3, Arizona Republic
N6160L crash, Yankee N6160L, Grumman Yankee
Grumman N6160L crash site view from helicopter.
Crash area near prison gates, KC-135A crash
Crash area near prison gates
Perimeter road of the prison, crash area ahead
Perimeter road of the prison, crash area ahead
One of the main entrance gates to the prison, perryville prison, kc-135 crash
One of the main entrance gates to the prison
Scene of the crash as it looks today, perryville prison, kc-135a crash
Scene of the crash as it looks today
Patch, 161st AREFG, Tanker Crew, KC-135 crash, arizone KC-135 tanker crash
161st ARG
KC-135 crash, KC-135 tanker wreck in arizona, stratotanker wreck
Stateside tankers in action
(photo courtesy of USAF), KC-135 stratotanker crash, tanker crash in arizona, midair collision in airzona, KC-135 crash in arizona, tanker wreckage in phoenix
What's that Bumper Sticker say?
(photo courtesy of USAF), KC-135 stratotanker crash, tanker crash in arizona, midair collision in airzona, KC-135 crash in arizona, tanker wreckage in phoenix
Unsung hero
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