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Narrative:The 319th bomb wing was in an exercise preparing for an ORI, and had just completed the flight phase of the inspection.
|Date:||Thursday 27 January 1983|
Boeing B-52G-90-BW Stratofortress
|Owner/operator:||319th BW USAF|
|Fatalities:||Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: |
|Aircraft damage:|| Written off (damaged beyond repair)|
|Location:||Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota -
United States of America
|Departure airport:||Grand Forks AFB, ND|
|Confidence Rating:|| Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources|
Postflight maintenance of a fuel transfer valve 29 fault was improperly performed. The valve was popping circuit breakers and technicians were performing fault isolation. The valve was energized in a nearly empty fuel cell. Technicians were continually resetting the breaker. The valve motor ignited the explosive fuel vapor in the tank. The explosion broke the bombers backbone. The forward fuselage fell onto the ground cutting off the crew exit. The maintenance crew inside was trapped as the remaining fuel burned.The plane melted with only a skeleton remaining, and the empenage left standing un marked.
Heroic actions on the part of maintenance crews saved adjacent planes from burning. Additional egress training was given to enlighten crews about alternate egress hatches and ropes in the B-52.
Alternative scenario as I observed and heard it. I was there in a parked truck in front of the aircraft. We had just dropped off McDonald to help refuel the aircraft after/if the valve was resolved. The valve failed in flight and the crew was unable to use the fuel. The crew also reset the breaker several times in flight. The mission was cut short and the resulting explosion was smaller than it could have been due to the low volume of vapor. The fire was larger due to the amount of fuel spilled on the ground.
A1C Michael McDonald
Senior Airman Robert Gray
A1C Anthony Salva
Senior Airman Scott Wicik
A1C Robin Rise (the only woman)
Eight others were injured
I was performing avionics maintenance on 6507 that morning. I had just left the aircraft to pick up a radar altimeter for 6507. I was delayed in the shop as the technician screwed the lid onto the unit.
Job control had listed me as onboard the aircraft when it exploded.
They were in the process of calling my wife, when I intercepted the radio call to the maintenance supervisor, as we were on the ramp awaiting the fire departments final extinguishing of the fire.
The fatalities consisted of an instrument/autopilot, 2 fuel cell and 2 crew chief technicians.
I was working in the control tower the morning of accident and the intial explosion was a low velocity giant whoosh/whoom and then flames everywhere. We had a S-SE wind at 10-15 kts that morning which pushed the flames toward the bomber parked north of this aircraft. Quick action by personnel to move that aircraft definitely prevented another possible explosion and fire. Fire Department actually drove directly acrossed the frozen infield direct to the parking ramp instead of taking the taxiway. Several firetrucks opened up with foam cannons at approximately 100 yards away and had the fire extinquished in about 30 minutes. We were told that they actually pumped off several tons of fuel after the fire was extinquished. I also think the time is wrong. We activated the crash phone in the control tower about five seconds after the initial explosion because the shift supervisor was standing right over the console and the crash phone. If memory serves me right, the control tower audio tape transcript's time code was ~0837 CST when the crash phone activated. I have some pics at home of the aircarft after the fire that' I'll try to find and upload. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/24341601/b52_fire_gfafb_12783_page_1/ https://www.newspapers.com/clip/24341639/b52_fire_gfafb_12783_page_2/
The ramp light sorta ruins the pic. This was the day they were removing the remains.
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