Aleutian Islands, AK Military Transport Crashes, June 1969


Anchorage (AP) -- At least 15 military planes and two Coast Guard vessels continued searching the western Aleutian Islands today for an Air Force reconnaissance plane missing with 19 men aboard.
Sgt. LARRY HELMERICK, public information officer for the Alaskan Air Command at nearby Elmendorf Air Force Base, said today's search was to be concentrated near Amehitka Island, where the plane was located when it made its last radio communication.
Strategic Air Command headquarters at Omaha, Neb., said there were reports of a signal during the night from an emergency rescue radio similar to that carried by the crew. However, search and rescue personnel were unable to determine the location of the signals.
A military airlift command crew flying in the Alaska area Thursday afternoon reported it copied a message believed to be from the missing aircraft, SAC said.
The message spoke of the aircraft experiencing severe vibrations, and of the crew going on 100 percent oxygen, using individual masks.
Its last estimated position Thursday was 250 miles east of Shemya on what was described as a routine flight from Shemya to Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks, Alaska.
The Pentagon said Thursday night the plane, an RC135, is powered by four turbo-fan engines and carries electronic reconnaissance equipment. The Pentagon said the RC135 was not shot down.
The missing plane's mission may have involved checking Soviet radar and possible monitoring Russian radio communications. But there was no official word other than that the flight was routine.
HELMERICK said the names of the crewmen aboard were to be released today in Washington or at Stragetic Air Command headquarters in Omaha, Neb.
The North Pacific Rescue Coordination Center in Juneau, Alaska, continued an electronic search from surface vessels during the night, but no trace was found of the missing plane HELMERICK said.
Military officials in Alaska would not speculate on whereabouts of the plane or elaborate on its mission.
The plane was last heard of 30 minutes after take-off.
There had been no reported sightings of wreckage, oil slicks or floating pieces of debris reported, HELMERICK said.

Daily Sitka Sentinel Alaska 1969-06-06