by Curtis Peebles
© Copyright 1997
The second site which I have personally visited was that of a B-1A prototype which crashed on August 29, 1984. The aircraft was conducting a low-level test when the four-man crew made an error in transferring fuel from one tank to another. The aircraft exceeded its center of gravity limits, stalled, and was too low to recover. The crew fired the escape capsule, but a problem occurred with the parachute system. The capsule made a hard landing, killing Tommie D. Benefield, and injuring the other crewmen.
The crash site was visited by Merlin, Tony Moore, and me in the spring of 1997, nearly 13 years after the accident. While the debris from the YB-49 crash was picked up, that from the B-1A was bulldozed into a hole. The crash site resembles a landfill. There are large pieces of debris visible on the surface. Unlike the YB-49 site, these include a wide range of structural and equipment parts.
While a casual passer-by might not immediately realize the debris at the YB-49 site was from an aircraft, there would be no question here. Another difference is that the B-1A crash site is both fresher and more remote than that of the YB-49. It has not been "picked over" like the YB-49 debris.
Picking Up A "Broken Arrow"
An obvious objection can be made to both of these examples - at the time of the two crashes, neither the YB-49 nor the B-1A were secret aircraft. Both had been subject to extensive press coverage. Although classified equipment was on board, these aircrafts' existence was not itself secret. Believers in Roswell maintain that the recovery of a UFO is so secret that even 50 years later the U.S. government continues to cover it up.
There are numerous examples of devices that are of earthly manufacture but which are surrounded by a high degree of secrecy as to their design and components. Such devices would, on the surface, require a similarly exacting clean-up. Any fragment would represent a major compromise of national security.
On May 22, 1957, a B-36 bomber was on final approach to Kirtland AFB, New Mexico. Aboard was an unarmed MK-17 H-bomb, which was being transferred to the base for fuzing modifications. Due to a failure of the manual release cable, the weapon fell from the bomber, going through the bomb bay doors and impacting on the desert floor. The high explosive charge detonated on impact, blasting a crater approximately 25 feet across and 12 feet deep. Debris was scattered as far as a mile from the impact point.
The site was ideal for removing every trace of debris, and the nature of the object was such that every effort would be made. It was located about 4.5 miles from the Kirtland tower, and was on public land 0.3 miles from the Sandia Base Reservation boundary. The site was flat, with very little vegetation. There was no radioactive contamination beyond the lip of the crater. Sensitive compounds were removed, and the crater was bulldozed.
Some 30 years later, Peter Merlin investigated the site. He found parts of the steel bomb casing, aluminum, cork, plastic, and lead. These were subsequently donated to the National Atomic Museum, who verified the debris had come from the MK-17. It will be put on display at the museum. In 1957, access to any design information about nuclear weapons required a special "Q" clearance. It would, on the surface, be inconceivable that parts of a weapon would be left out in the desert. It was not inconceivable - it was inevitable.
It is not possible to remove every trace of a crash, no matter how sensitive. Debris can be thrown considerable distances from the impact point. Debris can be buried in soft sand. Debris can be hidden under brush, and searchers have a reluctance to reach in, lest they find a rattlesnake has attached itself to their hand. Debris can be caught in branches - while the searchers are looking on the ground, it is hanging in plain sight.
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The opinions in this article are exclusively those of Curtis Peebles based on his experience and many years of research and do not necessarily reflect those of "The San Diego UFO Information Homepage" or other organizations represented at this website. - Paul
The text on this page is © Copyritten by Curtis Peebles (All Rights Reserved)