The B-52 Crash Site In early 1963 a USAF Boeing B-52C Stratofortress was tossed about in turbulent crosswinds ripping off the tail of the massive aircraft which sent it plunging into Elephant Mountain just outside of Greenville. The site, still riddled with large pieces of debris from the crash offers a memorial with some details of the event.
Located 15 minutes outside of Greenville, just east of the southern end of Moosehead Lake, the easily accessible memorial allows you to view and photograph large sections of the aircraft.
The plane crashed on January 24th 1963 when the plane’s vertical stabilizer stopped working while flying at low altitude. The US was in the midst of the cold war and the B-52 was flying a “terrain avoidance” training mission performing drills on how to avoid Russian radar. (The B-52 had a wingspan of 185 feet and was 160 feet long.)
The aircraft, however, ran into turbulence from high wind gusts coming off the mountains around Moosehead Lake. The savage winds triggered a structural failure when part of the bomber’s tail was torn off. The pilot and commander of the aircraft, Col. Dante E. Bulli, ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft and the plane crashed. Bulli remembers hearing the sound of the plane’s tail breaking off, ejecting from the plane, and then landing between 2 trees, 30 feet above waist deep snow. Although he had crushed his left foot and ankle, he was able to somehow get down to the ground. Gerald J Adler, the B-52’s navigator, also abandoned the plane but his parachute didn’t open and he survived the crash with only some broken ribs, a fractured skull, and severe frostbite on part of his left leg. “Adler is the only person in the world known to have survived an ejection from a Weber ejection seat without his parachute deploying!” Years later at a commemorative ceremony at Greenville High School, Capt. Adler exclaimed, “God rode my ejection seat.”
Powered by eight jet engines, the B-52 Stratofortress began its flight from Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts Sadly out of the nine man crew only 2 survived the crash, Capt. Adler and Col. Bulli.
Directions to Greenville and the B-52 Crash Site by Snowmobile Trail
Head north on ITS 85 into Greenville. The B-52 crash site is about 15 miles north of Greenville off of ITS 85.