Crew of the Month

Crew R-17 was returning to Lincoln Air Force Base from a successful training sortie.  Arrival at Lincoln TVOR was timed with clearance from Approach Control.  Checklist was initiated, best flare computed for gross weight, and gear handle placed to "down".  Fuel had been very close to predicted, so reserve over the TVOR was 21,000 pounds.  As Captain Herbert maneuvered the aircraft inbound to the Lincoln TVOR, the co-pilot, 1st Lt. Hagler, who was completing the final items on before-descent checklist, suddenly announced, "my AFT main gear indicates intermediate".  Captain Herbert added a little more throttle to wait for a full "DOWN" indication to appear.  Instead of appearing down and locked, the AFT main wet to an "UP" indication.  The bible (Dasa-1) was referred to and the emergency procedures checked.  After conversing with Command Post personnel, high headquarters, and supervisory personel, the gear still refused to go down and lock, no matter what method was employed.  Clearance was given to Captain Herbert for a AFT main gear up landing in case he couldn't get his AFT main gear down and locked after burning out the current limiter and AFT gear motor.  He would be landing on a foamed runway.  The tanker which Captain Herbert had requested ground aborted at another station; however the 98th Bomb Wing had scrambled one of its own tankers as a backup.  Captain Buehrer, Tanker Commander, applied power and rolled onto the runway within 1+07 after being called and coming from his home in East Lincoln, just as Captain Herbert descended through 10,000 feet in penetration.  Captain Buehrer completed a 180 degree turn after takeoff, with a thirsty B-47 sitting on "ready for contact" behind him with only 4,000 pounds of fuel remaining.  Contact was made immediately, although a malfunction required the use of emergency boom latching.  After taking on 36,000 pounds of fuel, another attempt to elge the gear was successful, and a routine landing was accomplished.  Disaster had been averted!  Superior judgement and professional skill were exhibited byboth crews involved, and every assistance was rendered by ground personel.  The teamwork and cooperation demonstrated throughout this emergency were fine examples of SAC professionalism at its best.  The crew, T-34 commanded by Captain Buehrer, richly deserves the SAC Combat Crew of the Month award for converting an almost sure disaster into a routine landing.
The tanker (KC-97G) crew:
Captain Gerald F. Buehrer       Aircraft Commander
1st Lt  Elisha T. Powell             Co-Pilot
1st Lt. Edwin A. Vokes              Navigator
MSgt. Willard A. Craig               Engineer
SSgt William J. Jacobs              Boom Operator
The boom operator was awarded an Air Medal accompanied by the following Citation:
Staff Sergeant William J. Jacobs distinguished himself by merritorious achievemment while participating in aerial flight on 4 April, 1961.  On that date, Sergeant Jacobs was boom operator of a KC-97G aircraft on a refueling mission of a B-47 aircraft, low on fuel and unable to lower its aft main gear.  Sargeant Jacobs transmitted emergency instructions which made it possible to transfer 36,000 pounds of fuel.  As a result of Sergeant Jacobs' efforts the B-47 aircraft was able to stay aloft until the gear could be lowered and a successful landing accompliushed.  The professional skill, judgement and devotion to duty displayed by Sergeant Jacobs reflect credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
William J. Jacobs, USAF Retired
2/11/33 - 4/16/10