Aviation Safety Network - Flight Safety Foundation
Lockheed EC-121 55-0136 took off from runway 23 at Otis AFB at 21:33 for an Active Air Defense mission to Air 1 station #2. Estimated time en route was 9:20 and 7:45 on station #2 at FL150. The flight was cleared for cross-rip departure 21 to Nantucket then, Control Extension 1144 to Cod intersection, direct station #2, climb to and maintain 15,000 feet. The route was flown as cleared and Honey 63 reported its position through Andrews Airways as over Cod Intersection at 21:49, FL150, estimating station #2 at 21:57.
At approximately 22:10, the crew reported that the number three engine was on fire and that an emergency was being declared. Later, transmissions were received by a KC-135 and Brunswick Approach Control that the aircraft had lost number two engine and that number three was feathered and on fire. Position was reported as about 125nm from Nantucket Tacan on the 090 degree radial and clearance was requested to Nantucket. At approximately 22:13, the pilot reported, "preparing for ditching, we have number three engine on fire, and number two is not so good". The pilot took up a heading of 270 degrees magnetic to the nearest land. The wind aloft was 230 degrees at 40 knots.
A ditching was carried out at 22:22. The aircraft broke in two places on the fuselage with at least partial wing separation. Forward break was in the latrine/galley area (station area 592) and the rear break was in the APS 103 area (station area 962). At approximately 09:00 the next morning, three survivors and the bodies of nine other men, were picked up by whale boats from German Navy Destroyer "D170" and US Destroyer "Barry" at 41 degrees 40 minutes north, 67 degrees 37 minutes west. The remaining seven men were missing and presumed dead.
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