Flying Tanker Crashes and Burns at Dow Air Force Base
While making a normal landing at Dow Air Force Base, Maine, on September 20, a KC-97 Stratofreighter is believed to have hit short of the runway, tearing off the left wing and continuing on down the runway for several hundred feet. Witnesses said two explosions resulted, one upon impact, and the other when the aircraft stopped. The plane was a mass of flames immediately. All twelve crew members escaped unaided, receiving minor injuries and burns. Five firemen were treated for smoke inhalation and eye injuries.
Four large Air Force crash trucks (O-11A’s), a tanker and two Air Force pumpers were used to control and extinguish the intense fire which was under control in thirty minutes. A 1500foot relay of 2 1/2-inch hose using a foam generator, was put to use to subdue the stubborn blaze. Several hundred gallons of liquid foam and over 2,000 pounds of powdered foam were utilized. Magnesium continued to burn under the thick foam blanket for some time, hampering final extinguishment.
The exact quantity of fuel aboard the aircraft was not known, but Col. Layton, Base Commander, stated, “The aircraft had an appreciable amount of fuel aboard.”
Loss is estimated close to the two million mark. The KC-97 is an aerial tanker, used to refuel other aircraft while in flight.