Bucksport, ME – August 7, 1954

Bucksport, Maine – August 7, 1954


F-84 Thunderjet - U.S. Air Force Photo

F-84 Thunderjet – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On August 7, 1954, a flight of four F-84F aircraft took off from Dow Air Force Base in Bangor, for an instrument practice, and aerial refueling, training mission.  The flight took off at 8:28 a.m. and climbed to 20,000 feet, where the pilots practiced formation flying for about 25 minutes before beginning instrument flight practice.  It was at this time that the pilot of the number 2 aircraft reported to the flight leader, 1st Lt. Richard C. Hafenrichter, that he was unable to get fuel flow from his pylon tanks.  Lt. Hafenrichter directed to the flight to rendezvous with the air-tanker at 10,000 feet for refueling. 

     As the number 2 aircraft was refueling, Lt. Hafenrichter positioned himself off the tanker’s right wing to observe the operation.  As he slowed his aircraft to match the tanker’s speed he noticed a vibration in his aircraft, (#51-1464A).  The vibration would cease as he increased his throttle, but then come back when he reduced power.  At this time he turned command of the flight over to another pilot and turned his F-84 towards Dow AFB. 

     As he approached Dow at 10,000 feet, he began a wide circle around the base in preparation of making a flame out landing on runway 33, but as he eased back the throttle the vibration returned, and then began to increase.  He tried to reduce the vibration by increasing the throttle, but discovered that this no longer worked.  The F-84 then began to shake violently and the engine RPM suddenly dropped to zero. 

     Lt. Hafenrichter ejected safely, and the aircraft crashed and burned in a wooded area of Bucksport, about 8.5 miles from the base. 

    Source: Air Force Crash Investigation Report, #54-8-7-3


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