Tag Archives: B-52 Hustler

A bear named “Yogi” was ejected from a USAF B-58 to test the Hustler’s escape capsule 54 years ago today

“Yogi” was ejected at 35,000 feet, 870 mph.

On Mar. 21, a 2-year old black bear named “Yogi” was ejected from a U.S. Air Force B-58 during tests of the Hustler’s escape capsule.

The bear was ejected at 35,000 feet from the USAF bomber flying at supersonic speed (870 mph): “Yogi” survived the test and landed unharmed 7 minutes, 49 seconds later.

Although the Air Force celebrates the test conducted 54 years ago today as the first ejection of a living creature from a supersonic aircraft, the first live creature to eject from a supersonic jet was George F. Smith, a test pilot of North American Aviation.

Smith ejected at Mach 1.05 from an F-100 Super Sabre off Laguna Beach, California, on Feb. 26, 1955 after experiencing a flight control failure. He spent 5 days in coma and eventually recovered in spite of various injuries.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

Fascinating video of a B-58 Hustler supersonic bomber’s emergency landing in 1961

An interesting documentary about the story of a B-58 Hustler and its landing after 14 hours in the air.

On Sept. 18, 1961 a Convair B-58 Hustler supersonic bomber of the U.S. Air Force SAC (Strategic Air Command) suffered a left main gear failure during take off for a night training mission from Carswell Air Force Base, Texas.

Debris from the landing gear tore a hole in the aft main fuel tank causing 15,000 lbs of fuel being “lit off” by the afterburners as the plane departed the runway (top image).

The damaged landing gear could not be raised (it was hanging at an angle of 45 degrees) and, what is worse, the aircraft was rapidly approaching minimum fuel condition as a consequence of the leak: with the extended landing gear, the aircraft had to refuel from a tanker at 11,000 feet and speed of 300 knots by using all four engines in afterburner mode.

The aircraft repeated the refueling with extended landing gear 8 times during the night before attempting an emergency landing, in daylight conditions, at Edwards Air Force Base (where other aircraft have performed crash landings in the past….)

As the aircraft prepared for landing a chase plane launched to assess the situation was able to confirm that only 3 of 8 wheels were still intact on the left main gear.

Eventually, the crew was able to perform a successful emergency landing after a 14-hour flight that included 8 aerial refuelings!