April 23, 1956
When other factors are added to training flights that already are fraught with danger, spring
thunderstorms only augment the things that can and do go wrong. Lucky for this crew, it wasn’t any
On Monday, April 23, 1956, a B-47 was flying over Red Oak, IA, on a regular training mission.
There were thunderstorms in the area with frequent lightning and moderate to severe turbulence. 2nd
Lt. Ragland, acting as pilot of the aircraft, heard a bump to the left and looked out at one of the jet
engines that hang on the wings. To his surprise, the left outboard engine, had fallen off.
The crew turned the aircraft towards the Lincoln Air Force Base and proceeded to head home.
After arriving back in Lincoln, the aircraft circled the airport for two hours, burning off fuel to lighten the
load and decrease the chance of an explosion if something were to go wrong during landing.
Brig. Gen. Claude Putnam, 818th Air Division commander at the base, went to the control
tower when informed of the mishap and was in contact with the plane during the time it circled the
However, the crew brought the plane in for a perfect landing and the six crash trucks and one
ambulance were not needed this time.
The crew for this hapless mission was:
Major R. M. Murphy Jr., 40, of 1835 D Street
Capt. James A Carr of 4945 Colfax
st Lt. Henry E. Thoenes
nd Lt. R. E. Ragland
A base spokesman stated at the time that lightning might have struck the aircraft,
causing the engine to come loose from the airframe.
A crew was sent to Red Oak to recover the engine, which fell to the ground about 50
feet from the local airport hanger, causing no damage.