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, the United States and the Soviet Union were locked in a protracted diplomatic and military standoff. During the 1950s and 1960s, the United States led conflicts in Korea and Vietnam in an effort to stem the growth of communism and curb the influence of the Society Union in the world. These hot moments served as proxy battles in the Cold War. This era also saw huge advancements 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 thirty feet deep and nearly one hundred feet wide crater.
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.
The marker reads:
CRASH OF THE B-58 "HUSTLER"
At the height of the Cold War, on the night of Dec. 12, 1966, the residents of McKinney were startled by the sound of an explosion. Many locals converged on this hill to find a large fiery crater, and the wreckage of an Air Force B-58. All three crew members perished. Official cause never released to public. Over.
CRASH OF THE B-58 "HUSTLER"
Fallen officers included the pilot, Major Richard F. Blakeslee, the navigator, Major Floyd E. Acker, and the defense systems operator, Captain C. Dale Lunt. They were returning from a training mission to Bunker Hill Air Force Base, Ind. B-58 was first supersonic bomber and a vital weapons system of the Strategic Air Command. Over.
This marker was dedicated on June 23, 2012.