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News | Sept. 28, 2007

'Elmendorf tower, Yukla 27 Heavy has an emergency'

By Staff Sgt. J.D. Erhard 3rd Wing Public Affairs

It has been 12 years since that fateful day when an Air Force AWACS, call sign Yukla 27 crashed shortly after takeoff. Twelve years of grieving, mourning and remembering our fallen brethren. September 22, 1995, started out as any other day might and ended in our worst nightmare. 

Yukla 27 was airborne at 0745:29 on the morning of Sept. 22, 1995. Just a short while later at 0746:43 the copilot declared an emergency to the control tower. At 0747:11 Yukla 27 crashed just a short distance away from where it began its mission. Yukla 27 was airborne for only 40 seconds before the flight ended in tragedy. Twenty four U.S. and Canadian Airmen lost their lives, giving the ultimate sacrifice to their countries. 

Accident investigators officially confirmed everyone's initial suspicion. The crash was unequivocally due to bird strikes. Yukla 27's number 2 engine lost all power and the number 1 engine was severely damaged as the Canada Geese destroyed the fan blades in both engines. Due to the significant loss of power in this critical phase of flight the flight deck diligently tried to make an emergency landing. After a slow left turning climb the aircraft pitched earthbound uncontrollably. 

The National Transportation and Safety Bureau have found human error to be the proximate cause in over 90 percent of all aircraft mishaps. Human error played no part in this fatal accident. Our Airmen were doing everything correctly the way they were trained.
I would be remiss if I didn't include some of the additional preventive steps that this base has relentlessly pursued to try and alleviate any possibility of bird strikes immediately following the Yukla tragedy. 

According to leading experts the Bird Abatement Strike Hazard (BASH) program on Elmendorf revolutionized BASH programs not only here at Elmendorf but around the world. A mixture of patrolling, pyrotechnics, and scarecrow coyotes has been used in the past to deter Canada Geese from landing in and around Elmendorf. Pair these active deterrents with passive deterrents such as planting specific grasses and trees in certain areas and Mother Nature is working side by side with us in the BASH program.
The Anchorage area Canada goose population is increasing each year exponentially. Elmendorf's BASH initiatives have been so effective that Canada geese hardly give Elmendorf a second thought when they look for a place to land. 

It is paramount that everyone remains vigilant regarding the BASH program and its 2,400 acre bird exclusion zone. If you see bird activity report it at 552-BIRD. 

To the 24 crewmembers aboard Yukla 27, we will keep you in our prayers and memories. Your service and sacrifice will never be forgotten and is greatly appreciated. 

Yukla 27 Crew
1st Lt. Carlos A. Arriaga
Weapons Director
Tech. Sgt. Mark A. Bramer
Flight Engineer
Staff Sgt. Scott A. Bresson
Airborne Radar Technician
Tech. Sgt. Mark A. Collins
Communications Systems Operator
Senior Airman Lawrence E. DeFrancesco
Communications Systems Operator
Tech. Sgt. Bart L. Holmes Sr.
Flight Engineer
Lt. Col. Richard G. Leary
Master Cpl. Joseph J.P. Legault
Canadian Forces, Communications Technician
Capt. Robert J. Long
Senior Weapons Director
Master Sgt. Stephen C. O'Connell
Advanced Airborne Surveillance Technician
Capt. Bradley W. Paakola
Tech. Sgt. Ernest R. Parrish
Area Specialist
Sgt. David L. Pitcher
Canadian Forces, Battle Director Technician
Capt. Glenn "Skip" Rogers Jr.
Aircraft commander
Airman Jeshua C. Smith
Airborne Surveillance Technician
Staff Sgt. Raymond O. Spencer Jr.
Airborne Surveillance Technician
Maj. Richard P. Stewart II
Mission Crew commander
Tech. Sgt. Charles D. Sweet Jr.
Airborne Radar Technician
Maj. Marlon R. Thomas
Mission Crew commander
Tech. Sgt. Timothy B. Thomas
Computer Display Maintenance Technician
Maj. Steven A. Tuttle
Airborne Surveillance Officer
Tech. Sgt. Brian K. Van Leer
Advanced Airborne Surveillance Technician
Airman Darien F. Watson
Airborne Surveillance Technician
Senior Airman Joshua N. Weter
Computer Display Maintenance Technician