What really happened on air legend Col. Mike McCoy's last flight

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Since: Nov 06

Chicago, IL

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#1
Oct 8, 2007
 
In public, the military praised Col. Michael McCoy for steering his disintegrating B-47 bomber away from Orlando homes. But in response to an Orlando Sentinel request, the Air Force finally reveals how it privately blamed the legendary pilot for causing the infamous crash 50 years ago Tuesday.

Read the complete story here ( http://www.orlandosentinel.com/orl-mccoy-stor... ) and comment below:
alan arthurs

Marietta, GA

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#2
Oct 8, 2007
 
my mother was a junior at edgewater high working in the office as an elective. she says she first heard the jet then looked out a window and saw the jet explode. her first reaction was to pick up the phone in the office and she called home. as soon as she heard her mother's voice-she hung up. the myers' house was near w. 50 and tampa ave. and after looking at the flight path, if the jet had lost control going through channel 6 t.v. towers it is a miracle that no person died on the ground. she later drove to the crash site with her father and brother.
John T Carney JD

AOL

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#3
Oct 9, 2007
 
I saw the plane making its final turn over Edgewater Drive at about 700ft altitude. It was banked about 35-40 degrees and as a former B-29 pilot I knew instinctively it was in bad trouble. I followed its path as it disappeared behind a large tree and explode north and beyond of the high school. No doubt McCoy was a hero by making his last-ditch effort to avoid killing innocent people.
Lynda Woodroffe

Stockport, UK

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#4
Oct 9, 2007
 
I congratulate the author of this article, Kevin Spears, for all his work and feel some pride that my father is remembered in this online publication. What crossed my mind when I read the article was this: "Yet 464 crewmen died in crashes between 1951 and 1966, according to the book Boeing's B-47 Stratojet." I did not know this statistic until this month.

While my father and the USAF airmen were intricately involved in the Cold War, I ask myself -'Did they not consider all the others who had died in this aircraft before them? Why did they take the risk?'. Of course I will never get the answer, but the question also echoes what Kevin Spear raised in his article, that maybe there was something that Boeing and the USAF hid from others, although it is difficult to imagine that the details of aircraft failure would be easy to hid from major airmen like my father and the others on that fateful flight.
Captain Jack

Palm Coast, FL

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#5
Oct 9, 2007
 
I would have preferred that the Orlando Sentinel let Colonel McCoy and his surviving family members and all the rest of us continue with the original explanation of his death. I find it toally devoid of good judgement and good manners to destroy a man's reputation needlessly. It's not much different than to go to a grieving Mother of a deceased Marine serving overseas and look her in the eye and say: "You son got drunk, climbed up into the cockpit of a parked fighter jet in the hanger of his carrier and yanked the ejection lever and blew himself through the cockpit and into the bulkhead above. Sorry, he was a stupid, careless jerk."
poor taxpayer

Lakeland, FL

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#6
Oct 9, 2007
 
Why is the Sentinel so determined to trash this man's reputation? He WAS a hero. He is not here to defend himself and we really can't ever know what exactly happened 50 years ago. This is just one of many examples of why I canceled my subscription to the fish wrapper long ago.
Mike Linquist

AOL

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#7
Oct 10, 2007
 
Lynda Woodroffe wrote:
I congratulate the author of this article, Kevin Spears, for all his work and feel some pride that my father is remembered in this online publication. What crossed my mind when I read the article was this: "Yet 464 crewmen died in crashes between 1951 and 1966, according to the book Boeing's B-47 Stratojet." I did not know this statistic until this month.
While my father and the USAF airmen were intricately involved in the Cold War, I ask myself -'Did they not consider all the others who had died in this aircraft before them? Why did they take the risk?'. Of course I will never get the answer, but the question also echoes what Kevin Spear raised in his article, that maybe there was something that Boeing and the USAF hid from others, although it is difficult to imagine that the details of aircraft failure would be easy to hid from major airmen like my father and the others on that fateful flight.
Ms. Woodruffe, I read your comments with interest. My grandfather was Col. Mike McCoy. My mother is Pam Linquist (formerly Pamela A. McCoy) and she still lives in Tampa, FL. I live 25 miles north in Wesley Chapel, FL. We attended the dedication of McCoy Elementary in Orlando last year n Veterans' Day. It was nice to discover someone like you who was so close to the tragic event that happened. Please feel free to get in touch.
Mike Linquist e-mail mikelinquist8@aol.com
Chuck

Safety Harbor, FL

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#8
Oct 10, 2007
 
Captain Jack wrote:
I would have preferred that the Orlando Sentinel let Colonel McCoy and his surviving family members and all the rest of us continue with the original explanation of his death. I find it toally devoid of good judgement and good manners to destroy a man's reputation needlessly. It's not much different than to go to a grieving Mother of a deceased Marine serving overseas and look her in the eye and say: "You son got drunk, climbed up into the cockpit of a parked fighter jet in the hanger of his carrier and yanked the ejection lever and blew himself through the cockpit and into the bulkhead above. Sorry, he was a stupid, careless jerk."
I agree with you. The Slantinel just couldn't help it. Gotta trash the dead pilot to sell more ads. The Air Force never really knew what happened and they couldn't ask the crew. I saw the plane as a kid on the playground at Lake Silver. It appears that he did get it out over the dairy property and died doing it.
I later flew fighters for the Navy. I don't know much about newpspapers but I do know that pilots don't make the errors in judgement that he is accused of. The excessive speed that the Slantinel talks about can occur for a number of other reasons, some of which can be from a pilot trying to correct for a plane malfunction.
The paper does a great disservice to the community and families of the deceased in repeating speculative propaganda that was produced to continue hiding the design problems of the craft.
Then again.....smearing good guys does sell ads, doesn't it?
Lynda Woodroffe

Stockport, UK

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#9
Oct 11, 2007
 

Judged:

1

Captain Jack wrote:‘I would have preferred that the Orlando Sentinel let Colonel McCoy and his surviving family members and all the rest of us continue with the original explanation of his death. I find it toally devoid of good judgement and good manners to destroy a man's reputation needlessly.’

Captain Jack, I don’t think this article strips Colonel McCoy of his honours. He, like my father, was a victim of faulty design, something they should have been able to avoid; they were not test pilots. The article describes how the aircraft was too powerful for its appendages. Surely Boeing should be held accountable for this?
How many men died in 1957? Forty.
How many died in this plane over the 15 years that the B-47 was being ‘trialled’? Over 400.

Many, many families have suffered at the hands of Boeing’s callous disregard for the military personnel and as far as I know not one has been compensated. For my part, I know only too well how my mother suffered from the loss of her husband and provider, just as my brother and I also missed his love and protection for all of our lives. Not a day has gone by over the last 50 years when I have not felt the loss of my father.

That the facts of this disaster have at last been laid open is right and correct. Boeing created a killer machine and we should be compensated.
James Goodwin

United States

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#10
Oct 11, 2007
 
In the cold war, technology was pushed to the limits, new designs for fighter aircraft and bombers created and then tested until ready for production. Then on to production if deemed ready for service after testing.

During those days, risk was taken. Those who flew the planes knew of the risks inherent in doing so. No pilot would fly a plane that was totally unsafe to get out of the ground - they would quickly point it out to the ground crew for the aircraft to be stricken from the day's flying activities.

I cannot speak for individual pilots as to their qualifications to fly. Some were hot dogs while the great majority respected the aircraft they flew and flew safely to return to their famlies. It is not enough to blame a plane crash on a pilot's hotdogging, you have to find other factors that could cause the crash such as design or mechanical failures.

I am not pointing fingers at Mc Coy for the crash of his B-47. However, I will point out the fact that if the Air Force had deemed the B-47 totally unsafe to fly, it would have had to ground the B-47's and be without a bomber until sufficient quantities of B-52's could be made to take their place. Since it was not possible to increase B-52 production at a faster rate without disrupting supply chains to make up the lost quantities of grounded B-47's, they made the choice to keep the plane flying until finally retired in 1966 once ICBM's were built in sufficient numbers to allow it to happen. At that time, their options were limited and they had to make do with what they had.

It is not enough to blame Boeing for the deaths of all those B-47 crews during the Cold War. Boeing was building planes the Air Force wanted. THey designed cutting edge planes and had to bear risk that the planes would fly and to fly safely so that they would remain in business to build more planes.

Contractors make the government indemify them against claims filed by deceased crew members. Otherwise their lawyers would advise them against building planes if they could not be protected.

Suffice it to say that during those cutting edge times of the Cold War, contractors who built planes that crashed, killing the crews felt bad for the crews killed as they had families to come home to like the deceased crews did. No one is becoming callous, but that is the universal feelings of employees who built the planes the government needed. Nobody felt any cheer about the plane crashes of the military, especially those whose companies built those planes.

The people who flew America's planes took great risks and they are heroes to America and their families, too. From crashes, lessons were learned and changes made to preclude them from happening.

In the past two decades, we have had fewer fighter and bomber crashes than wew had in the 1950's and 1960's. Safety is often stressed during flying and the military wants its crews to fly and then bring back home their planes so that they can live to fly another day.

Mc Coy was a hero who saved people living in the homes by steering his doomed B-47 away from certain disaster. He should be remembered for such than for a FOIA document that listed pilot error as the cause of the crash.
Chloeellen

Winter Park, FL

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#11
Oct 11, 2007
 
I have agree with you. This story serves no purpose except to tarnish the memory of surviving family. Must have been a slow news day.
Captain Jack wrote:
I would have preferred that the Orlando Sentinel let Colonel McCoy and his surviving family members and all the rest of us continue with the original explanation of his death. I find it toally devoid of good judgement and good manners to destroy a man's reputation needlessly. It's not much different than to go to a grieving Mother of a deceased Marine serving overseas and look her in the eye and say: "You son got drunk, climbed up into the cockpit of a parked fighter jet in the hanger of his carrier and yanked the ejection lever and blew himself through the cockpit and into the bulkhead above. Sorry, he was a stupid, careless jerk."
John C Evans Tempe AZ

Phoenix, AZ

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#12
Oct 12, 2007
 
I have been looking at the recovered parts and eye witness reports of COL McCoy's accident. I am having second thoughts about the cause and COL McCoy's responsibility.
Three things that jump out at me are that the #4 (right inboard) engine is the only engine broken in alf, a loose compressor disk was found in the wreckage, and the bulk of the burned parts appear to be mid fuselage inline with the #4 engine. To me this looks like a in-flight #4 engine failure that ejected hot parts into the forward/center main fuel tanks.
In 1957 the B47 was the only long range medium jet bomber in the game. We still had some B36 bombers but they were fighter fodder. The would never have made it to target. The B29's wouldn't have done much better, but they were all mothballed. The B52's were several years away.
A lot was riding on the outcome of the investigation. If an aircraft deficiency caused this catastrophic accident it would have grounded the entire fleet until the cause was resolved. On the other hand if it could be attributed to pilot error the fleet would remain operational and a strong deterrent to Russia. As COL McCoy and his crew weren't around to contest the findings pilot error was the best outcome for SAC and the Air Force.
Eye witness' said the aircraft was in a 30 to 45 degree left bank at about 700-feet. This bank would result in a 1.5 to 1.71 G-turn, well within the B47's -0 to +3.5 G-limit (+1 G = straight and level flight). The fact that the aircraft was about 700-feet AGL and appeared to be on fire indicates that COL McCoy could actually have been steering a aircraft crippled B47 toward an empty field.
So what could have been the cause of the accident? I noticed that 5-engines were in tact after the accident, but the #4 (right inboard) engine was missing its turbine. If a engine turbine had shed several blades of a section of the turbine wheel the engine cases would not have contained the red hot parts. In addition the out of balance turbine could well have separated from the compressor as the debris field indicates.
Flying red hot turbine parts from the #4 engine would have imbedded into the #4-5 engine firewall, right wing, of the aircraft fuselage. The aircraft main fuel tanks are located above the fuselage centerline from the forward edge on the forward wheel well to the aft edge of the aft wheel well. The #4 engine turbine is inline with the aft edge of the forward main fuel tank.
The B47 aircraft did NOT have nitrogen purged fuel tanks. The tanks were vented to atmosphere. COL McCoy took off with a 50,000-pound fuel load and flew for 57-minutes. His remaining fuel was probably less than 25,000-pounds of the aircraft's 100,000 pound internal capacity meaning that the fuel tanks were 3/4th full of combustible fuel vapors.
If the aircraft experienced a #4 engine turbine failure and some red hot turbine parts penetrated the forward or center main fuel tank they could easily have caused an in-flight fire followed by an explosion. With 5-engines still running the failed engine probably wouldn't have been noticed by witness'. This failure could explain most of the fire damage being mid fuselage trailing aft. Any in-flight explosion in the forward fuel tank would have separated the wing from the fuselage and most likely blown the fuselage in half.
I believe this scenario dovetails nicely with the reports I have read. This would make COL McCoy the hero he was originally portrayed to be 50 years ago, and deserving of the praise he received.
P.s. I was a B47 mechanic stationed with the 93rd BS 19th BW at Pine Castle AFB from 10/54 through 10/57.
Truly Blessed Mom

Tavares, FL

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#13
Oct 12, 2007
 
I'm glad I'm not the only one who wonders why this article was printed. What I got from the article was: 50 years later, it is determined that it may have been pilot error that caused the crash, or, then again, it might have been a problem with the plane. Why even bring it up after this length of time unless you have reasonable proof that he was at fault?
Spears likes the X Files

Fort Huachuca, AZ

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#14
Oct 14, 2007
 
Col. McCoy defended this nation and he is human and made a mistake. That doesn't mean he is NOT a hero. His final act was to steer away from the community. Guys like Kevin Spears search for conspiracy theories in all things government. They serve a good purpose in our society, to keep our elected people honest, but media exertions like this serve no purpose other than to showcase the resiliency and investigative research skills of a man who is obviously looking for employment or trying to keep his job at a newspaper that continues to cut jobs and is obviously, by the remarks posted here, not in touch with its readership.
John C Evans Tempe AZ

Phoenix, AZ

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#15
Oct 14, 2007
 
My assessment of the cause of Col. McCoy's accident is based on eyewitness reports and FOI act documents of the accident, debris recovered, and their condition (Burned, Etc.) contained in the Orlando Sentinel article written by kevin Spear. The burned and separated debris is a good indicator of the location where the fire/explosion initiated. I found Kevin’s article to be accurate and informative.

I do not believe the cause of the accident was the Boeing B47 aircraft or limitations of its design. I am sure Col. McCoy was well aware of the B47’s limitations, and that he flew well within his capabilities and the limits of the aircraft, for self-preservation if nothing else. I believe the real culprit was the envelope pushing design of GE J47 jet engines powering the B47.

In 1957 GE J47 jet engines were state-of-the-art power plants operating at the limits of our engineering and metallurgy knowledge.

The report of wreckage indicates that five GE J47 jet engines were fairly intact (in one piece). However the #4 (right inboard) engine was broken in half and a #5 compressor wheel was found loose in the wreckage. I do not believe this damage was caused at impact, but occurred before aircraft impact causing the aircraft to explode. Traditionally catastrophic failures of GE J47 jet engines have been caused by foreign object ingestion or internal mechanical failures.

B47 pictures show a red stripe around each engine nacelle in line with the turbine wheel location. This is a danger area to be avoided by ground personnel. The danger was from the possibly of an un-contained turbine burst during high power settings. Red-hot turbine parts exiting a J47 engine would be fatal to any ground member struck, or could cause a fire and/or explosion if they struck aircraft fuel tanks full of combustible vapors.

The #4 engine nacelle red stripe is in line with the aircraft wing root. The forward and center main fuel tanks are located above the forward wheel well and bomb-bay areas and below the wing root. With a light fuel load these fuel tanks are full of combustible and possibly explosive fuel vapors. Any red-hot #4 engine turbine part escaping the engine would have enough energy to penetrate the aircraft skin and the self-sealing fuel tanks.

A red-hot piece of jet engine turbine material entering a fuel tank could ignite vapors causing a fire and/or explosion. A fuel tank explosion between the wing-root and bomb-bay would have broke the wing in half separating it from the aircraft and blown the fuselage in half as well. If this occurred in-flight it would have created a very large and long debris field that was documented in the accident reports.

All of the information I used in coming to my conclusions of mechanical failure is in the accident report documents, and in my opinion they do not support the U.S. Air Force accident investigations conclusion of pilot error. I believe the sole purpose of the pilot error conclusion was to avoid having to ground every aircraft using GE J47 jet engines. This included KC97 refueling aircraft, B36 bombers (4 outboard jet engines) F86 fighters as well as many other aircraft, and engine manufacturers using similar engine designs.

Under the conditions described in the reports no pilot in the world could have saved a B47 aircraft with that level of damage, or its occupants. The fact that the B47 was in a low altitude steep left banking turn heading toward an open field leads me to believe that Col. McCoy, at considerable risk to himself, was attempting to save the lives of not only his crew but people on the ground as well with a controlled crash landing in an open field, and just ran out of time. These are the actions you expect of hero’s, as Col. McCoy could easily have given the order to eject saving the lives of himself and some of his crew.
E Vey

Longwood, FL

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#16
Oct 15, 2007
 
Some of these comments are at least as fascinating as the story.

"destroy a man's reputation needlessly."

"trash this man's reputation?"

"Gotta trash the dead pilot to sell more ads."

"This story serves no purpose"

"Why even bring it up"

"Guys like Kevin Spears search for conspiracy theories in all things government.

All this condemnation for the messenger, when all he did was bring to light a classified Air Force document.

Not a single complaint against the investigators, the people that wrote the report.

I doubt if there is anyone that has served in the military that has not not witnessed some sort of screw-up.

When I saw them happen, they were immediately classified. I guess the idea was that if the enemy found out about our screw-ups, then we would no longer appear invincible.

Seems as though some people, even when the enemy has been vanquished and the equipment long obsolete, would prefer to keep any screw-ups classified forever. According to them, history is better as a myth than truth.

George chopped down the cherry tree.
Chigger

Lutz, FL

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#17
Oct 16, 2007
 
I am a native Orlandoan. Back in October 1957, we lived on Driver Avenue on Little Lake Fairview. My mother was talking on the phone when she saw a plane on fire circling the lake. She described it as a ring of fire outlining the plane. She rushed out into the back yard to witness the plane appear to circle the lake and steer into the ground. Later she learned that the plane missed the numerous highly populated neighborhoods and schools in the immediate area.

I think of Col. McCoy each time I look at a flight bag tag…MCO. I’ve told my mother’s version of the story many, many times.

I’ve read the very detailed comments today from James Goodwin and John C. Evans, and others and wonder why pilot error is now identified as the cause. What's the motive? I will personally choose to continue to believe the heroic account of Col. McCoy and his crew deciding to ride the plane into the ground to avoid the many innocent people in the area.
Gary

Safety Harbor, FL

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#18
Oct 16, 2007
 
E Vey wrote:
Some of these comments are at least as fascinating as the story.
"destroy a man's reputation needlessly."
"trash this man's reputation?"
"Gotta trash the dead pilot to sell more ads."
"This story serves no purpose"
"Why even bring it up"
"Guys like Kevin Spears search for conspiracy theories in all things government.
All this condemnation for the messenger, when all he did was bring to light a classified Air Force document.
Not a single complaint against the investigators, the people that wrote the report.
I doubt if there is anyone that has served in the military that has not not witnessed some sort of screw-up.
When I saw them happen, they were immediately classified. I guess the idea was that if the enemy found out about our screw-ups, then we would no longer appear invincible.
Seems as though some people, even when the enemy has been vanquished and the equipment long obsolete, would prefer to keep any screw-ups classified forever. According to them, history is better as a myth than truth.
George chopped down the cherry tree.
Excuse us, Dummy. The reason people wrote in disfavor of the Slantinel article is because it does serve no purpose and it trashes a good man for absolutely no reason. There was no proof that the crash was pilot error and more proof that the plane design was at fault. But...I guess, if in you world, destroying a dead hero and his reputation, serves your and the Slantinel's purpose, its okay. You sound like an investigative reporter wannabe. Pathetic.
E Vey

Longwood, FL

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#19
Oct 16, 2007
 
"You sound like an investigative reporter wannabe. Pathetic."

So lemmee get this straight. You would prefer not to know what those highly qualified Air Force crash investigators thought to preserve what you think you know?

What does that make you? A "dummy?"
Gary

Safety Harbor, FL

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#20
Oct 17, 2007
 
E Vey wrote:
"You sound like an investigative reporter wannabe. Pathetic."
So lemmee get this straight. You would prefer not to know what those highly qualified Air Force crash investigators thought to preserve what you think you know?
What does that make you? A "dummy?"
"A lot was riding on the outcome of the investigation. If an aircraft deficiency caused this catastrophic accident it would have grounded the entire fleet until the cause was resolved."

Yeah, I'm the dummy. Pilot error is always more economically sound than blaming the manufacturer or design, which in this case, was the true cause. You and your ilk just want to air the "truth" in order to satisfy some percieved need to "make things right". Ignore the design features, history of problems in flight, and blame the pilot.
You're either stupid, ignorant of the history of this craft, or choose to swallow the official story.
You are not my problem and I'm glad I don't now you... see ya.

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