Elephant Mountain B-52 Crash Site


The Elephant Mountain B-52 Crash Site is an outdoor memorial, honoring one of the most tragic plane crashes Maine has ever known.  7 Men lost their lives on a routine training mission back in 1963 and the wreckage remains, strewn across the forested landscape of Elephant Mountain.

History of the Crash

January 24, 1963 a B-52 plane was flying overhead while conducting a training run on ‘evading Russian radar’. The Soviets had developed a new radar technology which required American pilots to learn how to fly under it to remain undetected while in enemy territory.

The B-52 aircraft is capable of amazing things, including flying more than 600 miles an hour and at altitudes that exceed 50,000 feet.  So it’s built to be rugged, but also dynamic in terms of its function during wartime. The problem was, flying at such a low altitudes prevented some of the safety features from being as effective as they were designed to be.

When this B-52 plane was originally designed the Soviets hadn’t developed this new radar technology, so there really wasn’t any need to consider flying at high speeds at low altitude. During this particular run the flight crew had a choice of testing over the mountains of the Carolinas, or over the mountains in Maine.  And, of course we know, they chose to fly over Maine.

The weather conditions the day of the test flight were typical for winter in the mountains of Maine.  It was -14º and the wind was howling upwards of 50mph. When you combine that with having to fly 500 feet or below, to avoid being caught on radar you wind up with a very challenging situation – both, for the pilot and the structure of the plane. The turbulence on the plane, from the wind drifting off the mountains is what really brought this mission to its knees.  But the construction of the plane didn’t help, either.

The B-52, at this time, was really built for higher altitude work, and not at all designed for quick maneuvering – at any altitude.  So when the flight crew realized the turbulence was unmanageable at the low altitude they were flying, the pilot was directed to bring it up so they could fly over it. This is when tragedy struck.

When the pilot attempted to get to a higher altitude through all of the turbulence, a loud bang was heard. Then it turned right with the nose of the plane pointing right down to the ground.  There was nothing that could be done.  There was no regaining control so the pilot ordered everyone abandon the aircraft.

The 3 men in the cockpit could just use their ejection seats, which is what they did.  All 3 successfully ejected.  1 hit a tree and died on impact, 1 hit a tree and hung 30 feet above ground overnight, and the other hit the ground so hard he cracked his skull, shattered 3 ribs, and bent the framing of his ejection seat.  The 2 survivors were in very bad shape.

Worse news is, these large B-52’s weren’t made for low altitude ejections, so the plane had to be above 200 feet for the lower deck ejection seats to work.  They ejected downward, so if they weren’t above 200 feet the seats would launch the person straight into the ground and death would be unavoidable.  So the lower level ejection seats were non-functional, and there were spare crew on board during this training mission – and spare crew don’t have ejection seats, so they have to jump out of the plane manually by forcing open the doors and donning a parachute.

It was only seconds after the last flight crew member ejected that the plane hit the side of Elephant Mountain.

It was going well over 300mph.

There was nothing the bottom deck crew could do.

The reason for why the plane crashed was investigated and deemed a ‘turbulence induced structural failure’ and after a few more crashes and a bunch more lives lost on other missions, the problem was fixed.

Reported Phenomena

It’s no surprise … We’ve been told by numerous people over the years that there’s something about the wreckage on Elephant Mountain that brings immense sadness and anxiety, and that some people have had to vacate the memorial area while their family remains to investigate the debris – and that we should come up here to check this place out for ourselves.

How to get to the Elephant Mountain b-52 Plane Crash Site

To get here you’re going to want to drive to Greenville.  From the center of town you’ll take the Lily Bay Road for about 6 and a half miles until you reach Prong Pond Road. You should be seeing signs put up by the Moosehead Riders Snowmobile Club that point you in the direction of the wreck site from here.  It’s still a ways in, and we recommend hitting up a few websites to print out driving directions in case the Snowmobile Club signs fall down or go missing. The trail rating is “easy”.  It’s a well groomed trail and there is even a little parking area for 3 to 4 cars just outside the entry gate.

Please respect this place like you would a graveyard, because that’s what it is.  7 men lost their lives in this crash, and the place this plane landed is sacred ground.

Do NOT remove anything from this site.

Do NOT carve your name into any of the remaining pieces

Do NOT desecrate this site by leaving any marks indicating you were here.

This is a mass grave and should be respected as such.

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