An engine from a Minot-based B52 bomber dropped into a river bed at the Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge Wednesday afternoon.
A local man in Upham says he saw several helicopters flying around the area that day, as if they were looking for something.
(Dom Christianson/North 14 Agronomy) “I wasn’t sure what was going on, but seemed awful strange that with the wildlife stressed the way they are that there would be helicopters flying over and over the refuge.”
(Becky Farr,KX News) Tuesday afternoon was cold, but quiet in Upham until a B52 engine fell from the sky.
Christianson) “Average day until about noon when we had helicopters flying over town and flying really low out across the refuge out here. It went on for about four hours.”
(Farr) A statement from the Minot Air Force Base reads in part,
“Upon landing it was confirmed that the engine departed the aircraft. The Wing Commander has stood up an Initial Safety Investigation Board. UH-1N helicopters, assigned to the 54th Helicopter Squadron at Minot AFB, have located possible engine debris in an unpopulated area approximately 25 NM North East of Minot AFB.”
(Christianson) “So we finally went outside and looked and it seemed like they were almost searching for something because they were going back and forth through the refuge out here. Like I said, really unusual.”
(Farr) “As you can see, it’s a pretty desolate area here on the refuge, so there were no injuries related to falling debris.”
(Christianson) “Yeah, who knows? Those things were built back in the 1950s so, they’re getting old.”
(Farr) There were no weapons on board as the B52 flight was a local training mission.
Airmen and women arrived at the refuge to meet with Fish and Game Thursday afternoon to come up with a plan to recover the engine.
About all they knew at the time was that they’d have to walk through a foot-or-two of snow for about a mile just to get to the engine debris.