Members of the Maine State Warden Service color guard (from left) Warden Adam Gormley, Sgt. Greg Sanborn, Warden Ron Dunham and Sgt. Dan Menard stand at attention at the site of the1963, B-52 crash at Elephant Mountain in Greenville during a flyover by three helicopters from the 101st Army National Guard in Bangor in January 2003.
Wreckage of a B-52 that crashed on Jan. 24, 1963, on the side of Elephant Mountain in Greenville killing seven of the nine-member crew can be seen in the foreground of the 2003 photo during a memorial service.
This photo of the ejection seat from a B-52 bomber was taken on May 17, 2012 using a Nikon Coolpix L24.
TOWNSHIP 8, RANGE 10, Maine – An ejection seat that helped saved the life of a U.S. Air Force crewman involved in the crash of a B-52 bomber about 49 years ago has been found, officials said Tuesday.
Maine Forest Service District Ranger Bruce Reed found the piece of Maine history on a logging road on Elephant Mountain last fall and returned to it Saturday to log its coordinates for collection on Thursday.
“The seat was lying upside down in the middle of that road,” Reed said in a statement released Tuesday. “I had a pretty good idea of what it was, and it was kind of eerie finding something like this in the middle of the wilderness, knowing what happened almost 50 years ago.”
The ejection seat has held up “remarkably well for being there for 49 years,” Reed added. “Once we get it off the mountain and in the presence of those who know its true history, it will generate significant interest.”
The only degradation or damage apparent to the seat was on the top part near the head rest, he said.
The B-52 had left Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts at about noon on Jan. 24, 1963, and was on a routine training mission when a malfunction caused the unarmed plane to go down in the Greenville area.
The crash killed seven airmen and left two survivors. Reed and members of the Moosehead Rider’s Snowmobile Club, which has spearheaded the creation of a permanent memorial for the crash remains, believe the seat carried the plane’s pilot or navigator to safety.
Club members will make the seat part of the permanent memorial they are creating that honors the sacrifice of the crewmen.