On 7/8/64 the Republic F-105D Thunderchief #61-0091 and the Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker #60-0340 collided mid-air over southern California. The F-105D #61-0091, call sign TAR 68 was assigned with the 355th TFW out of George AFB, California was on a training mission along with two other aircraft. The flight was to accomplish instrument training in addition to the scheduled air refueling and return to George AFB. The air tanker, the Boeing KC-135A #60-0340, call sign SHAG 21 was assigned with the 462th Aerospace Wing out of Larson AFB, Washington was on a combat crew training mission. The flight was scheduled for a seven hour duration taking off from Larson AFB and returning back to Larson AFB at the completion of the mission. The aircraft rendezvoused at approximately 26,000 feet and while in the process of in-flight refueling, the F-105D struck the KC-135A’s right wing causing the mid-air break up of both aircraft. Killed in the accident were the four crewmembers onboard the KC-135A and the pilot of the F-105D.
KC-135A #60-0340 crew,
Pilot: Capt. Thomas F. Dozier
Copilot: 1st LT Erwin W. Boelter Jr.
Navigator: 1st Lt Ronald D. Williams
Boom Operator: S/Sgt Robert J. Graves
The F-105D #61-0091 pilot, Capt Leonard F. Reynolds
A few years ago I was given the location of the area where some of the wreckage landed, finally getting around to search that area to see what I can find out there. It didn't take long before I started finding pieces from the aircraft involved in the mir-air collision.
This piece is about three feet long and has a part number that indicates it's from the F-105.
This piece is from the 20mm cannon ammo feed system, must be from the F-105.
This is about four feet long.
The other side of the same piece.
The part number is from the F-105, think that it's one of the doors from the nose landing gear.
Recognized this soon as I saw it. It's from the 20mm cannon ammo drum.
A closer view of the shows the marks left by the 20mm ammo.
Was finding a lot pieces of wreckage as I hiked up one of the many small canyons that are in the area.
The first piece I found that I could confirm was from the KC-135A.
It had the number 5 prefix, it also had a date on it.
This is about four feet long, no idea what it was when I saw it.
The part number indicates that it's from the KC-135, think that it might be the tail end of one of the engine pylon fairings with a piece of the lower wing skin attached.
Looking up the canyon, I could see something large and shinny.
While heading for the large piece I spotted, came upon a piece of the KC's leading edge.
The other side of the same piece. It had four cable pulleys on it.
This is about four feet long and made out of some really low tech honeycomb material. Doesn't look like it came from either of the aircraft.
Hiking up a little further solved the mystery. It's the remains of a Dart aerial gunnery tow target.
Another view of the Dart. I have found bits and pieces of these things before, but this is the first time I came upon a complete one.
Smashed nose of the Dart. The rope was about ten feet long and attached to long tow cable which was in a big pile.
Some of the Dart's tow cable.
Looking back as I continue up the canyon.
Looks like a piece from the F-105 fuselage, it's to small to be from the KC.
The other side of the same piece.
Better view at the ducting.
Climbing up on a ridge between canyons, I could see two fairly large pieces down in the bottom of the neighboring canyon.
While heading down found what looks like wing rib from the KC.
This piece turned out to be a lot larger than I thought it was when I saw it from a distance. Looks like a section of the KC's wing.
Must be from a section of wing that was used as a fuel tank. All the seams are sealed.
Me with the same wing section. Part of the USAF was on this piece. Turned out to be a section of the upper right wing skin.
Closer view showing the opening to fill the fuel tank.
Found this next to the wing section. I first thought this 20mm bullet was from the F-105, but taking a closer look, I could see rifling marks on it which means it was fired.
A little further up was the second piece I spotted from the ridge. It's another piece from the KC wing. This one is about eight feet long.
Closer view showing a wire harness and plumbing.
The other side of the same piece.
There were two of these attached by a hinge. They are part of a cove lip door and are used to seal the gap when the flaps are retracted into the wells.
The other side of the same part.
Close up of the center area shows an actuator, linkage and hoses.
Looking down the canyon with the wing pieces as I keep hiking up.
Almost to the top of the canyon, decided to climb up on a ridge to see if I could spot any more large pieces. Was finding a lot of small stuff scattered over the area.
Near the top found a broken cable pulley.
Up on the ridge found this piece. It's about a foot across and has a saddle on it.
Pretty sure this was an oxygen tank, part of it is missing.
It had a pressure regulator on it.
Bracket and tubing on the tank.
Piece from one of the engines.
This is about four feet across. It's a piece of the bottom wing skin from near the right wing tip.
Access panel on the same piece.
Piece from some type of electrical equipment.
This just looked like a plate with holes in it.
Taking a closer look, could see that it was a heat exchanger, maybe for a piece electrical equipment.
This looks like it might be a piece of the F-105 wing skin. Looks like the machined skins I've seen at other jet fighter crash sites.
Braided hose with fittings.
These are links for 20mm ammo. I'm pretty sure that the gun on the F-105D didn't have links, think that it had a linkless conveyor system to feed the ammo.
Found a what looks like a fuselage section from the F-105D and further down a nose cone. There's also smaller pieces scattered around the area.
Closer view of the fuselage section.
As I walked around, I could see that this was the nose section of the F-105D just behind the nose cone. It's upside down.
The gun port made it easy to indemnify.
Closer look at the opening that the Thunderchief's M61 Vulcan 20mm cannon fired through.
One more view of the gun port.
There was a electrical component hanging by it's cable.
View of the electrical component, no idea what it is.
Lettering, at the top you can see the word GUN.
Nearby was this fuel check valve.
Tag on the check valve, was wondering if this is part of the F-105's air refueling system?
Another piece of electrical equipment.
Another view of the same piece.
It had the 57 prefix that indicates the F-105. All the wreckage in this area looks like it's from the F-105. The KC wreckage was lower down the mountain.
The nose cone which was just below the fuselage section. This is about five feet long.
Close up of the tip. The fiberglassing resin has mostly deteriorated leaving the glass fibers remaining.
Rings from the nose cone.
This piece was beside the nose cone.
It had what looks like a North American Aviation ink stamp on it???
Decided to take a different route down and started finding more scattered pieces .
Another piece from the KC wing.
No idea which aircraft this is from.
More electrical stuff, I was following a trail of pieces.
Blade from one of the engines, found three of these.
Another section of the KC's wing. This piece is about six feet long and mostly buried.
Looking down I spotted another fairly large piece.
While hiking down found this spent 50 cal. In the past, I have found a lot of these scattered all over Death Valley.
I'm pretty sure that this is the KC's inboard aileron from the right wing.
Closer look at the trim tab and the damage that looks like it was caused from landing on rocks.
Stood it up to get a shot of the other side. It is about six feet long.
This piece was beside the aileron.
The other side of the same piece shows part of a letter. Think that it's part of the USAF. The other large section of wing I found earlier is in the neighboring canyon at about the same level.
Still finding pieces as I make my way down.
Seems like most of the wreckage in this area is from the KC-135.
This is one of the last pieces I found after searching the area for five hours. The wreckage of the two aircraft was scattered for over three quarters of a mile and I'm sure that there must be some that I missed in the other canyons that I didn't have time to search.
On the dirt road driving back out to the highway. .
All the wreckage I found were pieces that rained down after the collision. The real challenge would be to find the impact areas of both aircraft. With the narrow debris pattern that was about three quarters of a mile long, I was able to get a good line that might lead the the impact areas. The trick now is to figure out how far they might have carried after the collision. The crash report stated that the KC-135 was cleared to the block altitude flight level of 24,000-27,000 feet. Have to think about it for awhile, plan to returned to the area soon.