Crash of the B-58 "Hustler"

Historical Marker #2369 in McKinney remembers the tragic crash of an Air Force B-58 Hustler bomber on December 12, 1966, which killed its three-member crew.

In the years following World War II, tensions developed between the United States and the Soviet Union, which brought on the so called Cold War. During the 1950s and 1960s, the United States participated in conflicts in Korea and Vietnam in an effort to stem the growth of communism. This era also saw a terrific advancement in weapons technology. One product of the U.S. and Soviets' attempts to outdo each other was the Air Force's B-58 Hustler bomber. The military intended the B-58 to travel at extremely high altitudes, but with enough speed to avoid Soviet fighter jets. The Soviets, however, quickly countered with accurate surface-to-air missiles and intercontinental ballistic missiles, which reduced the threat of the B-58.

On the night of Monday, December 12, 1966, residents in the community of McKinney, in Lincoln County, Kentucky, thought that the Cold War had erupted in their midst. That night, a loud explosion and flash of light lit up the sky. It was soon discovered that the massive explosion had been a B-58 Hustler bomber that had crash landed on a local farm.

Although the official cause of the crash was never released by the military, it was quickly reported that the pilot, Maj. Richard F. Blakeslee; navigator, Maj. Floyd E. Acker; and defense systems operator, Capt. Clarence D. Lunt, had all perished in what was called a training mission from their base at Bunker Hill Air Force Base in Peru, Indiana. The crash caused a crater that was described as thirty feet deep and nearly one hundred feet wide.

Historical Marker #2369 now serves as a vivid reminder of the McKinney community's unexpected involvement in the Cold War and the aircraft crew's ultimate sacrifice of service to their country.