Accident Convair B-36H-25-CF Peacemaker 51-5719, Friday 6 February 1953
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Date:Friday 6 February 1953
Type:Silhouette image of generic b36 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Convair B-36H-25-CF Peacemaker
Owner/operator:492nd BSqn /7th BWg USAF
Registration: 51-5719
MSN: 256
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 14
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Nethermore Woods, near Pitters Farm, Sandy Lane, Lacock, Wiltshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: Approach
Departure airport:Carswell AFB, Texas
Destination airport:RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, England
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
According to a published newspaper report ("Wiltshire Gazette & Herald" 6 February 2003):

"6th February 2003
Bomber flew 30 miles without a crew

FIFTY years ago on February 7 one of the world's largest aircraft crashed near Lacock, and the crash remains unexplained to this day.

Chippenham historian Paul Moran who has compiled newspaper reports of the accident and talked to witnesses, says the B-36 bomber, carrying top secret military equipment, flew 30 miles over the north Wiltshire countryside without pilot or crew, before plummeting to the ground.

The plane could have crashed in Chippenham with a heavy death toll but fortunately it came down in an isolated location at Nethermore Woods, near Pitters Farm, at Sandy Lane.

To mark the anniversary of the crash, Mr Moran, of Salisbury Close, wants the United States Airforce to come clean and reveal why the crash happened.

"We still don't know the full story," he said. "Why on earth did the crew bail out, leaving the plane and the people on the ground to their fate, when they still had enough fuel to fly for 30 miles?"

Mr Moran, an engineer at Wiltshire College Chippenham, has carefully researched the crash.

Events began on February 2 1953 when 17 B-36 aircraft left their Carswell Base in Texas to fly to RAF Fairford.

The aircraft flew over the Atlantic but weather conditions deteriorated and by the time the squadron reached the English coast at dawn, they were running short of fuel.

The doomed plane was piloted by Lt Col Herman Gerick. In bad weather he missed two ground controlled approaches and was forced to circle over Fairford.

The fuel situation became critical and he decided the crew should bale out, but it is not clear why he did not land the plane while he had some fuel left.

He flew to open country and ordered his 13-man crew to abandon the aircraft, and then baled out himself. The crew came down in three counties, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, and Wiltshire.

A report in the Fort Worth Star Telegram, February 8, stated that frantic efforts had been made to put out a fire which broke out before Lt Col Gerick ordered the crew to bale out. No-one on the ground was injured and firemen were quickly on the scene to dowse the burning trees. The rest of the squadron landed safely at RAF Fairford.

Malcolm Heath of Lacock still remembers the day well. He was with his father at home when they heard a strange throbbing noise. "Suddenly there were two or three loud thumps. We later learnt that an aircraft had come down in Nethermore Wood," he said. The site was cordoned off and US military officials removed top secret equipment. Mr Moran said details of the subsequent investigation were not made public.

He said: "Causes of the crash were said to include crew undermanning and inexperienced personnel at RAF Fairford air traffic control. But no facts have been released to shed light on the circumstances of the crash. In a cruel twist of fate, most of the crew that baled out were later killed in another B-36 crash at El Paso, Texas, in December 1953."



Revision history:

25-Jan-2013 02:35 Tetrapack Added
07-Dec-2013 19:23 TB Updated [Operator, Location, Phase, Source, Narrative]
07-Dec-2013 19:25 TB Updated [Time]
16-Dec-2020 14:04 A.J.Scholten A.J.Sch Updated [Date, Time, Aircraft type, Cn, Location, Destination airport]
11-Apr-2021 21:38 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Operator, Location, Source, Narrative]
11-Apr-2021 21:39 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator]
12-Apr-2021 18:43 Anon. Updated [Operator, Operator]
09-Jul-2021 20:20 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative, Category]

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