McKinney Kentucky 

B-58 “Hustler” Plane Crash

Memorial


 
 

At the height of cold war tensions, on a dark December night in 1966, the residents of the small community of McKinney, in Lincoln County, Kentucky, were startled. The sound of a violent explosion shook their homes.  Fearing the worst, many residents thought they had been attacked by a foreign power; others thought a gas main had exploded. Everyone in the area knew a major catastrophe had occurred.


Many of the residents converged on the area to find a large crater in the earth. Multiple fires were burning all along the hillside, and it was there the residents found the wreckage of an Air Force jet. The plane had a three-man crew; sadly all three Air Force officers had lost their lives in the crash. One of the airmen had ejected at the last second, but he did not survive the trauma. 


The fallen heroes were pilot Major Richard F Blakeslee, Major Floyd E Acker, and Captain Clarence D Lunt. The plane was operating out of Bunker Hill Air Force base in Indiana. All three men left widowed wives and fatherless children.


Unfortunately in the chaos that followed, many of McKinney’s younger citizens visited the crash site. These children were exposed to the realism of our world at a young age. It affected many of them deeply. Although they were hundreds of miles apart they suffered along with the children of the airmen that had lost their fathers prematurely.  


In ironic contrast, the violent crash at McKinney had taken place on a serene hillside, in a beautifully picturesque area of the knobs region of Kentucky. After the initial confusion, the residents of McKinney banded together under the leadership of a local Minister to aid the Kentucky State Police and the Air Force investigation team. The community came together again when the families of the fallen officers visited in the spring of the next year.


The B-58 “Hustler” was the first operational supersonic jet bomber capable of Mach 2 flight. The intended purpose of the plane was to fly at high altitudes and speeds to avoid Soviet fighters, and drop a nuclear payload on cities of the Soviet Union. The later introduction of highly accurate Soviet surface-to-air missiles forced the B-58 into a low-level penetration role that severely limited its range and strategic value. This along with ICBM’s led to a brief operational career between 1960 and 1969.

The McKinney, KY plane crash of 12 December 1966

Crash Site

Photo taken from the hill that became the crash site on that Monday night in December of 1966.

Major Richard Franklin Blakeslee, to the far left was the Pilot of the B-58 that crashed in McKinney. (He is shown here with a different flight crew in 1965) Flying with him that night was (Shown Below) Major Floyd Edward Acker, and Captain Clarence Dale Lunt.

Captain C. Dale Lunt

This is a photo of the actual plane, before it was destroyed the night of 12 December 1966. It was called the “Pink Panther,” &  City of Kokomo.