NORTH ELBA — Without a trace, a 380th Bomb Wing B-47 vanished after 2 a.m. Jan. 16, 1962.
The Boeing Stratojet, on a low-level, practice bombing mission over Watertown, was due back at the base at 7 a.m. and had only enough fuel to last until 8:30 a.m.
Missing were the 529th Bomb Squadron’s 1st Lt. Rodney D. Bloomgren (plane commander), 1st Lt. Melvin Spencer (co-pilot) and 1st Lt. Albert W. Kandetski (navigator/bombardier) and Airman 1st Class Kenneth R. Jensen (observer) of the 380th Armaments and Electronics Squadron.
A dozen base planes, KC-97s and C-47s, Plattsburgh Composite Civilian Air Patrol Squadron light aircraft, Griffiss Air Force Base jet trainers and Royal Canadian Air Force ski-equipped Otter planes scoured the Adirondacks rugged terrain for the missing crew.
WAITING FOR WORD
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 1st Lt. Richard “Dick” Fletcher was anxious for news of the plane and Kandetski, his buddy and housemate in Plattsburgh.
“And, I remember it took them awhile,” said Fletcher, who lives in Derby Line, Vt. “It took them close to a week for them to find any kind of evidence that, hey, this is probably where they are.
“Toward the end of that week, three Army light aircraft, the L-19s — it’s almost like Piper Cub, a single-engine plane, like an observatory type of plane — they came up and became a part of that search toward the end of that first week. I heard they were flying in, like, on a Friday. I said, ‘We’re getting some Army in. I have to find these guys.’”
Fletcher hooked up with the Fort Devens, Mass., Army pilots and took them to the Officers Club and introduced them to his Air Force friends.
He found out they were going to search an area of mountains near Lake Placid on Saturday and he volunteered to help.