B-36 Bomber Crash Site Photos

Discussion in 'Canada' started by DRZ400SK4, Oct 14, 2008.

  1. DRZ400SK4

    DRZ400SK4 Long timer

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    The 1953 crash site of the big "peacemaker" bomber, on Newfoundland's rugged East Coast, has always been a place I have wanted to investigate for myself, so while Renee and I were spending the long weekend in the Trinity Bight area, we decided we'd take a run down to Burgoyne's Cove, and walk the hike up the ridge to the crash site of bomber number 51-13721.

    The huge "peacemaker" aircraft (as the Cold War era B-36s were known) crashed into a high ridge just northeast of Burgoyne's Cove on March 18th 1953, after being driven off course by a low-pressure weather event above the North Atlantic Ocean. The flight was part of a top-secret test of the North American Air Defense System, during the early Cold War era of the 1950s. The plane took off from the Canary Islands, with a mission to try to enter North American airspace without being detected.

    All 23 airmen aboard the illfated flight would perish in the crash. Ellsworth Air Force Base was named in honour of the mission's commander 'Brig General R.E. Ellsworth'.

    The B-36 model which crashed at Burgoynes Cove was an updated version. The original was designed to drop bombs over Germany, during WWII. For it's Cold War conversion, the plane was fitted with an additional four jet engines, to complement it's six piston driven propeller engines, for a total of TEN powerplants.

    I had done a bit of research before heading out to see the crash site for myself. Much of the literature I found stated that very little of the plane was now left at the crash site. I guess this is a relative thing, because I was surprised by just how much is still there.

    There is a 5 km long dirt access road leading to the famous slate quarry near Burgoyne's Cove. It is from this road that the trail route up to the crash site ridge can be found. An air cadet squadren built the trail up the steep grade several years ago. Thanks to their efforts, the site can now be reached after a half hour hike up the steep and rugged trail. A sign indicating where the trail begins can be easily found on the left, about 3 or 4 kms along the quarry road.

    Aside from the intriguing nature of this crash site, and it's historical interest as part of Cold War era aviation, I figure this would be a great afternoon adventure for anyone visiting Eastern Newfoundland on adventure bikes...

    The coastal road (Route 232) from Georges Brook to Burgoyne's Cove is one of the most twisty and scenic paved routes in the province, and the 5 km dirt road through the high country and along the cliff tops is equally as spectacular. Although the trail would not be ride-able on anything less than a trials bike, it's only a half hour hike up the mountain. The panoramic views of Random Island and the Bonavista Peninsula are pretty impressive from the top of the ridge, too.

    Well worth the effort on so many levels.


    Click here for a rough map of the crash site location


    Here are some photos of the trail and the crash site.


    The trail head sign on the quarry road...
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    The trail...
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    A woodpecker knocks out a beat to guide us up the trail...
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    The mounted propeller blade monument on the very top of the ridge...
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    The tail section...
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    One of the jet engines...
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    A wing section...
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    A propeller head...
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    Renee reads the information plate that's been mounted on the bulkhead...
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    The monument atop the ridge...
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    About the mighty beast...
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    #1
  2. Ooobah-Moto

    Ooobah-Moto Banned

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    Now that's SUPER COOL!!! :clap



    by the way, if you like old planes.... check this ride report out
    #2
  3. H2oskier

    H2oskier Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the report. Such a loss of life for so many crewmen.
    Very interesting crash site, you usually don't see nearly as much
    stuff leftover after a crach like that one.
    #3
  4. jackd

    jackd Long timer

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    Supposedly the navigator onboard didn't reset his barometric setting on his altimeter for local conditions and the aircraft therefore flew into high terrain. They were flying on original barometric settings from the other side of the Atlantic - big mistake. I read this somewhere else. I think there are few air crashes around there where this was also the cause. Thanks for taking the shots. I'm guessing that the front of the aircraft is smashed beyond recognition because I don't see any shots. These aircraft were built out of magnesium alloy and burnt quite nicely. Any sign of fire or was the fuel load depleted after the long journey over the ocean? Jackd
    #4
  5. California

    California Motorcyclist

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    as a testament to the construction and materials of that aircraft, think for a moment what you have, that you could leave exposed to all the elements for over 55 years! I am amazed!

    If I ever get to that area of the planet, I WILL go and see it!

    Thanks, great photos
    #5
  6. olebiker

    olebiker Old buzzard bait

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    Great pics I think I will add that to our trip to the rock.
    #6
  7. tbirdsp

    tbirdsp REMF

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    #7
  8. Dru

    Dru Hardly an Adventurer

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    Wow! That is amazing! I can't imagine what a crash that would have been... yikes! Good report! Nice pics!
    #8
  9. DRZ400SK4

    DRZ400SK4 Long timer

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    I've heard mixed versions of the reasons why there are no large pieces of the fuselage, the wings, or any of the big piston engines left at the site...

    Stories range from the US military removing most of it, to locals pillaging the crash site for pieces of the plane and valuable metals.


    No sign of fire at all, which is odd, since the crash caused a huge explosion upon impact, which was seen by loggers from miles away. I'm guessing that this debris field is a long way down from the original point of impact.



    This is something which really struck me, too. I tried to take a close up of a couple of fuel-line fittings on the J47 jet engine in the photo above, but they came out blurry. They were in as perfect condition as the day they were installed on the engine. They looked to be made of a VERY high-quality nickel alloy. This aircraft most definitely had the absolute finest quality parts and materials that the late forties and early fifties era could supply.
    #9
  10. TREE

    TREE Interloper

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  11. squonker

    squonker Eat my shorts

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    Very cool indeed! I'll now that to my list of things to do in Nfld when I make it out there. Thanks!
    #11
  12. DRZ400SK4

    DRZ400SK4 Long timer

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    BTW...

    We recently rode an excellent combination coastal road/logging road/trail loop in the area where the bomber crash site is located (Burgoyne's Cove). The combined distance was about 100 kms. So if you're up this way looking for the bomber crash site, it might be worth your while to combine that little adventure with the ride around the loop, and make a day of it.

    Click HERE to read my report about the ride around the loop.

    :thumb
    #12
  13. funhouse

    funhouse Overdue

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    This could be the single coolest post I've ever come across on ADV!! I can remember hearing these fly over my boyhood home in Ojai, Ca. .... the entire house would shake and throb.....six turning/four burning ..... the factory where they were assembled in San Diego still stands......thanks very much....Bruce
    #13
  14. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer

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    That's an intriguing story. Thanks for the pictures.
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  15. DRZ400SK4

    DRZ400SK4 Long timer

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    Thanks guys. My pleasure.

    What really surprised me, was just how few Newfoundlanders I spoke with knew about this crash site.
    #15
  16. Transalp Jas

    Transalp Jas Been here awhile

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    Gonna have to see that for myself for sure. Maybe next year!
    #16
  17. skibum69

    skibum69 slave to gravity

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    right on Geoff, great thread; maybe I'll make it over there myself one of these days?
    #17
  18. Natnewt

    Natnewt Been here awhile

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    This is my old stomping grounds. Actually my father grew up here and I remember seeing pics of him holding the propeller up before they turned it into a monument. Oddly enough I never went up there myself but I spent alot of time running around the back roads into the camps and cabins on my old XL185S. Many of my family are currently working at the quarry.
    #18
  19. DRZ400SK4

    DRZ400SK4 Long timer

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    You might be interested in our ride report about a recent off trip we took in that area, in that case.


    :thumb
    #19
  20. Natnewt

    Natnewt Been here awhile

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    i know exactly where that trussel is in your pictures and ive done that loop more than once... and then some. ive gone to many of the ponds off the beaten path. its a beautiful run you have to be really careful of the blind turns.
    #20