The grandkids were home for a few weeks from the Carolina's so one of our places to hike this summer was to a plane wreck in Maine.
At Moosehead lake in Greenville, drive north on Lily Bay Road for six or so miles. We were looking for this B-52 site sign on the right hand side of the road which lead to a dirt road on the right as well.
Elephant Mountain is 2,636 feet above sea level looks some what like an elephant’s body, head and tusks from a distance. There are no trails to the summit but a trail at the base leads to the B-52 crash site.
a few maps I found on the internet
On January 24th 1963, the weather was very cold in the teens during the day and to below zero nightly. In Massachusetts nine Air Force members set out on a mission to fly through mountain terrain and chose the Maine Mountains instead of the Carolina's on a training mission at low levels to avoid Soviet radar technology. They were to simulate entering enemy airspace below radar and travel as close to the ground as they could. The plane had difficulties at 500 feet. The order was given to climb above the turbulence as the plane ascended there was a loud noise. The vertical stabilizer broke.
At the Boeing B-52 crash site. You can only get there via walking or by snowmobiling. This is a short walk through the base of Elephant Mountain.
Walking in to the site was a sobering feeling even so many years later. The last time we were here was in the middle of winter on our snowmobiles and most of what we see today was under the snow.
The plane started to plummet.The pilot Dante Bulli lost control of the plane. A few seconds later the plane crashed into Elephant Mountain. Before the plane crashed Bulli ordered the crew to abandon. Only the upper deck were able to eject and those in the lower deck did not have ejection seats and would have had to parachute but just wasn't enough time or elevation to do so. Pilot Dante Bulli, navigator Gerald Alder and Maj. Robert J. Morrison all ejected. Bulli landed upright dangling in a tree 30 feet in the air in his seat with fractured skull, ribs and an injured leg. Alder landed without his parachute opening, the level of snowfall on the mountain saved his life. He is the only person to be ejected from an airplane without the parachute opening and survive. He was in bad shape with frostbite, broken ribs, fractured skull and an injured leg. His landing crushed his seat so that his survival kit was not accessible. He was able to get his unused parachute out and cover himself up for the night. He was in a comma for five days after being rescued. Bulli was able to climb out of the tree, dig a hole in the snow and use his sleeping bag from his survival kit for the night. He inflate a raft, which the helicopter rescuers were able to locate them by. Both men stated that they remembered the strange sense of quiet that night, but neither remembered the plane hitting the mountain. Neither knew that the other was alive. Morrison died when he crashed into a tree head first. The other crew went down with the plane. It was difficult getting to the site via snowmobiles and rescue vehicles because the territory was vast wilderness, the terrain was impossible, but still the sled tried to make it in, but one complication after another took place. The had to use helicopters, snowshoes and primitive snowmobiles. The next day twenty hours later rescuers arrived by helicopter to rescue the survivors. Bulli and Alder were still alive. Bulli recovered months later and went on to flying again at one point serving at Loring Air Force base in Maine. Alder retired after fifteen months of recovery in a hospital from the frost bite, pneumonia, and gangrene that set into his leg, having his leg amputated to save his life. He went on to retire from the Air Force as a captain to become a Lawyer and City Councilman for California. Thirty years later a commemorative service took place at Moosehead River Snowmobile club as a memorial ride was commencing to take off. Alder visited the site again after thirty years. That weekend in 1993 Dave and I pulled into the snowmobile club on our sleds while the service was taking place and the sleds were lining up for a snowmobile ride to the plane crash site.
The property where the plane crashed is owed by Plum Creek Timber Company and Scott Paper Company. Years ago all this property from the crash was cleared away. A few years ago it was all returned from what a sign displayed at the site said. Some things were not removed at that time though because they are embedded into the ground where they landed when the plane crashed. This site is a no harvest site.
The 40-foot-tall vertical stabilizer remains where it landed, 1 -1/2 miles from the other wreckage. About 10 miles away, at the clubhouse for the Moosehead Riders snowmobile club, newspaper clippings, Bulli’s parachute and Adler’s ejection seat are on display.
Gerald Adler, the navigator of a B-52 that crashed in the Maine woods.
what a day. I was told by a co-worker that there was a geocache in the area of Elephant Mountain so we thought we would give it a try and find it. This turned out to be a fun adventure. Gotta love smartphones for coordinates. In a short time we found what we were looking for.