Discover a B52 Crash Site
Near northern Maine’s Moosehead Lake, you’ll find a quiet mountain trail that wanders through an unusual memorial to American aviators and the Cold War.
On a frigid January day in 1963, a B-52 Stratofortress bomber took off from Westover Air Force Base in western Massachusetts and headed north. Its mission: to practice a type of high-speed, low-level flying needed to evade enemy radar. It was hard and it was risky. Bad weather and high winds could toss the bomber as it maneuvered close to the ground. And the B-52 was massive; its wings would spread half the length of a football field. On that day, the biggest danger turned out to be turbulence.
As the B-52 roared low over Maine woods and peaks, it was shaken by winter turbulence so intense that it ripped the vertical stabilizer—the gigantic tail—clean off the airplane. As the tail fell away, the rest of the plane turned hard and slammed into Elephant Mountain. Only two of the plane’s nine crew members survived. Both bailed out in the seconds before the plane crashed to earth.
Today, the remains of the B-52 lie silent among the trees. On impact, the plane disintegrated, spewing parts over a wide area of the mountain side. Under the branches, visitors can see pieces of aluminum from the body, large structural panels, even the landing gear. Organizations have erected memorial plaques and signs to guide people through the site. Those visitors are asked to leave everything from the crash in place.
To find the site, here are detailed instructions that begin in the nearby town of Greenville.
From Portland: 165 Miles
From Bangor: 80 Miles
From Lewiston/Auburn: 140 Miles