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c/n 253

51-16489 gets some attention at Ernest Harmon AFB., Stephenville, Newfoundland.
Presume this is a Sea Anchor?
Photo: Sparkman Collection © Circa early 1960's - via James Sparkman
51-16489 awaits her delivery crew.
W.J. Balogh Sr. © Dave Menard Archive

c/n 253

51-16489

x

51-16489 USAF#1069. L-20A No: 70. Command AF-1. Delivered 30-Apr-1952. Built as L-20A and Re-designated U-6A in 1962. Later configured as a TU-6A.

51-16489 Rhode Island National Guard in 1970.

Destroyed

USAF History

51-16489 was made available on 24-Apr-1952 and accepted by the by AMO Unit (Air Material Overseas Unit), at Downsview, ON., on the same day and delivered to Pepperell AFB, NL., on 30 Apr-1952. It was assigned to the North East Air Command and was deployed to Goose Bay AFB., NL., and the 6603rd Air Base Wing from 13-May-1952. The aircraft sustained category 2 damage (minor) in a takeoff accident at Goose Bay, Labrador. 27-Jul-1952. The pilot was Robert G. Bensing. It was repaired and returned to flying duties. During the year the Wing was re designated as a Group, but the aircraft was on the way to Narsarssuak Air Base on the southern tip of Greenland to be with the 6611th Air Base Group until Apr-1957. During this time it suffered a category 3 (serious / major) damage in a landing accident 12 mi. SW of Narsarssuak Air Base, Greenland on 01-Oct-1954. The pilot was George A. Klein. It was sent to Downsview for repair, where it remained for a couple of months before returning to the 6611th AB Group in Greenland. Narsarssuak had been used as a stopover airfield for aircraft transiting to and from Europe, but as aerial refuelling with tankers become the norm for such flights the base was run down, the 6611th was de commissioned and a smaller unit the 4086th Air Base Squadron, assigned to the Strategic Air Command replaced it. Our Beaver joined it and remained until Jun-1957.The Air Force portion of Narsarssuak closed and the aircraft moved to Ernest Harmon AFB., a Strategic Air Command base situated near Stephenville, NL., where it was allocated to the 4081st AB Group, remaining until 11-May-1959.

It returned to the USA for a few months to the Air Material Command, North American Aircraft facility at Minneapolis St Paul, MN., until 22-Jan-1960 after which it travelled north again, this time to the 4082nd Strategic Wing at Goose Bay, NL., until returning to Ernest Harmon and the re named 4081st Combat Support Group, later re designated 4081st Strategic Wing. Our current history ends in October 1962 and we will be conducting further research. It is reported that it was struck off charge on 21-May-1966. However we are aware that it served with the Rhode Island National Guard as the accident noted below is recorded.

Accident: Burlington, VT 06-Dec-1970. LTC Mendes of the U.S. 1st Army borrowed the plane, designated as a TU-6A from the Rhode Island Army National Guard on the previous day (Saturday) under the pretence of obtaining additional flight time for his certification.  Officially, Mendes’ mission was to deliver a helicopter part to the Vermont Army National Guard. He took off from the Theodore Francis Green airport in Warwick, RI., and flew to Burlington, VT., with two stops en route – contrary to his official flight plan. At Hanscom Field in Bedford, MA., he picked up three persons – all unauthorized civilians. In Laconia, NH., they were joined by another unauthorized civilian. On arrival in Burlington, they stopped overnight. Sunday afternoon, the TU-6A Beaver took off from Burlington in a serious snow squall and shortly after lift-off LTC Mendes radioed that he was experiencing trouble with an aileron. The aircraft subsequently spun into the ground. It appears that no pre flight check was completed and the accident was caused by a build up of ice on the wings. The aircraft is reported as destroyed and the pilot and the four passengers received fatal injuries.