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Has anyone been to the crash site of B-1B 84-0052 near La Junta in eastern Colorado?  A friend of mine survived the crash, but the experience soured him on aviation and he never again flew as a crew member on a military aircraft.  I'd like to visit the crash site today, take some pictures, and perhaps show him the spot where his life was forever changed.


Here's some info I found following a quick scan of the Internet.  "The first B-1B [84-0052] crash after the aircraft became operational in 1986 was on 28 September 1987 at La Junta, near near Pueblo, Colorado. Two of those killed were instructors who were not in ejection seats and did not have time to bail out manually. A third crewman, the co-pilot, died because his ejection seat malfunctioned. Three surviving crew members bailed out successfully. The bomber from Dyess AFB was flying a low-level training mission about 600 feet above the ground at a speed of 560 knots [about 645 mph] when the plane struck a 15-to-20-pound North America white pelican. The bird tore through a wing, ripping apart critical hydraulic, electrical and fuel lines. This started a fire which made it impossible for the pilot to control the plane. The Air Force subsequently hardened the vulnerable area on the remaining B-1s. Individual B-1Bs were restricted from high-speed, low-altitude flight below 5,000 ft. above ground level until bird strike protection kits were installed, with all modifications completed by December 1988. The modifications are designed to withstand the impact of a 10-lb. bird at 590 kt. The B-1B was originally designed to withstand strikes by birds weighing up to six pounds."


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Send me a email and I can give you a copy of the report. This is one I have been dreaming of doing.

Check out my smugmug account for over a thousand pictures of classic aircraft and wreck site visits.

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I remember back in the late 80's my wife and I were coming out of the low lying fog east of Punkin Center, Colorado when a B-1B streaked in front of us at what seemed 10 feet off the ground! Probably a thousand feet, but it still made me swerve and hit the brakes! TJ


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Here's some info I found following a quick scan of the Internet. 

I've found a lot of info on it since I started researching last year. Shoot me a PM and I can send you my notes. This one's on my list of sites for the summer.


Posts: 1
To Fairlane66                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               I was there , La Junta, Col Sept 1987,I thought I was the only one who was so affected by the events of that day . The following morning would change my life so profoundly I would suffer for 19 years 10 months before I ever talked about it .I was stationed at Peterson AFB with the 1001st CE squadron,1st Space wing .                                                                                                                 I know its been a couple of years since your post about your friend who was one of the three to survive I didn't get to meet any of the survivors they were all taken to the hospital at Peterson or might have been the AF academy  A few of us  were dispatched to the crash site as the mobile Command post and recovery ops, we arrived just as the daylight ended.We established a perimeter control plan and relieved the local sheriff and his volunteers who had stood guard until our arrival. I did meet the co pilot that you mentioned who's ejection seat failed . I met him the morning after the crash , as I walked the debris field which seemed to go on forever.Yes I know it sounds crazy as he didn't survive the impact of the crash but I met him . As I walked along the path that his body had been thrown and deposited . It was a spiritual journey in every sense of the word as I spent roughly six hours recovering what had been his physical body in life. At a young 23 years old it was my first exposure to death in such a catastrophic way,and as I said it affected me deeply and profoundly. In 2009 I was shown how to look back at that day and to begin some healing from the two decades of carrying it deep inside and running from the memories of it by some wonderful people at the National center for PTSD in Menlo Park ,Ca.  While some things may never be completely resolved progress is being made. I hope your friend has found some peace inside and can put some of it to rest Please let him know he is not alone, many lives were permanently altered on the high plains of Colorado along with his.I have intentionally omitted the name of the co pilot out of respect for his family but I assure you I know his name, and the rank he was wearing on that flight did not reflect the rank given on some of the reports.The memory of seeing the portion of his flight jacket with his  leather flight badge, name and rank stands out as clear as if it happened yesterday.I have often thought of returning to the site wondering if I could find some closure pls let me know if you were able to help your friend .I will confirm details if you wish to follow up on this reply .

Posts: 1
Davidagill 62

While I hate resurrecting an old thread, I was curious as to what shop you were out of at Peterson, I was part of the same response group but stayed the night in La Junta before coming to the site.  This was the last crash I worked in the Air Force but I did work several at Edwards AFB in the seventies and early eighties.

The crash scene was a flat open pasture with the wreckage spread over several acres, most of the pieces were small enough to hold in your palm.  We marked the human remains recovered with small red flags and when we were done you could stand at the point of impact and see three very distinct cones of red flags, I had the rather bizarre task of helping determine what was human and what was aircraft as all of the pieces were quite small.

I went back with the clean up crew after the investigation was completed and we spent several days policing the area for every piece of the plane we could find, I was told that later they went in with earthmoving equipment and took off several feet of soil in the entire area because of contamination from fuel and other fluids.  The site is, to the best of my knowledge, still private property and looks like every other piece of pasture in that part of Colorado.

In peacetime our best still don battle dress and lay their lives on the line.

Posts: 1
To:  Furetto7 and Davidgill_62


Dave Hodges

Posts: 2
To Dave Hodges:
I was the Wing Chief of Safety at Peterson, AFB when the B-1 crashed at La Junta in 1987.
I was loaded on a helicopter with the SOF vehicle and flew immediately after the B-1 crashed.
Yes, there were 3 survivors and they were flown out by helicopter and I remained alone at the accident site looking for other survivors.
There weren’t any. There weren’t any bodies found as they were vaporized by the accident.
The copilots flight jacket with his name tag, (Initials RLB) and his helmet bag was also found.
I was accompanied by a EOD specialist and medical tech, as we walked the primary site. We thought
We picked up a wiring bundle, though it was a backbone of one of the pilots. Not too far beyond this gruesome discovery,
We possibly found the ejection seat firing mechanism that had not been fired. I put the mechanism in the SOF vehicle.
The next morning, I was summoned by the SAC Col. in charge of the accident site and he demanded I turn over
The firing mechanism. This was of course accomplished.
The recent grounding of the B-1 fleet for potential ejection seat issues brought back very uncomfortable
Feeling, so much so, I sought out a psychiatrist who I am working with to help me get over the flash backs from this accident.
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