The hunt for the lost B-36 bomber
- On 23/01/2009
- In Airplane Stories
By Michelle Tuzee
One of the largest military planes ever built crashed nose-first off the Southern California coast in the early days of the Cold War. That U.S. Air Force B-36, and its pilot, sank to the ocean floor never to be seen again, until now.
Captain Ray Arntz and his team spent years searching for the B-36 bomber, which went down in August 1952. The bomber had a crew of eight onboard.
"It was the largest combat operational bomber ever built, and ever to fly in the world," said aviation archaeologist Pat Macha.
The B-36 was stripped down in "Operation Featherweight." However, it was still massive. It had 10 engines, a wingspan of 230 feet and the ability to haul 84,000 pounds of bombs.
The B-36 was nicknamed "The Peacemaker" because it was more of a deterrent to Cold War Russia. It never flew in combat. The doomed B-36 was on a test flight from San Diego's Lindbergh Field when one of its engines caught fire.
"The pilot instantly realized they were in dire straits," said Macha. "He turned that plane around, headed it out away from San Diego."