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Last updated: 20 April 2019
Date:Saturday 9 February 1974
Type:Silhouette image of generic K35A model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing NKC-135A
Operator:United States Air Force - USAF
Registration: 55-3120
C/n / msn: 17236
First flight: 1957-02-01 (17 years )
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants:
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants:
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 18
Collision casualties:Fatalities: 7
Aircraft damage: Minor
Aircraft fate: Repaired
Location:near Colorado-Springs, CO (   United States of America)
Phase: En route (ENR)
Departure airport:Seattle (unknown airport), WA, United States of America
Destination airport:Albuquerque-Kirtland AFB, NM (ABQ/KABQ), United States of America
The USAF North American T-39A Sabreliner jet (60-3506) departed Peterson Field (COS), bound for McClellan AFB (MCC). At the same time a Boeing NKC-135A (Airborne Laser Lab) was en route from Seattle to Albuquerque-Kirtland AFB, NM with 18 crew on board. It reportedly carried scientific equipment to make observations of the Comet Kohoutek.
En route at 23,000 feet both aircraft collided. The Sabreliner struck the tail of the NKC-135 and subsequently crashed out of control. The NKC-135 suffered only minor damage and landed safely at Albuquerque-Kirtland AFB, NM.

Reportedly the Sabreliner experienced some kind of landing gear failure shortly after takeoff. The crew of the NKC-135 offered to do a visual inspection of the underside of the T-39 in flight. The collision occurred during this manoeuvre.

Mid air collision
Forced landing on runway

» 7 Killed as 2 Air Force jets collide (Pasadena Star-News 11-2-1974)
» Aircraft collision probe is under way (Times Recorder, 11-2-1974)


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This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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