The 6 lost Hurricane Hunter missions, Part V: Typhoon Ophelia, 1958

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:55 PM GMT on July 24, 2009

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There are no threat areas in the Atlantic to discuss, and no models are calling for tropical storm development in the next seven days, so it's time to continue my 6-part series on the hurricane/typhoon hunter missions that never returned. On January 15, 1958, an Air Force WB-50 (49-295) assigned to the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron on Guam was lost in Category 4 Typhoon Ophelia, 500 miles west of Guam. From the New York Times article, "Typhoon Survey Plane Missing With 10 Aboard", 16 Jan 1958 58:7, "The Air Force said the plane last reported its position at 11:30pm January 15 (9:30am EST) at a point near the eye of storm and its 145 mph winds. A plane from the 79th Air Rescue Squadron flew to the area today, but its crew reported that the winds could not be penetrated. The search plane remained in the vicinity for four hours, trying vainly for a radio contact with the reconnaissance plane." Here is the text of the official Air Force Casualty summary for the accident (thanks to Bernie Barris of the Air Reconnaissance Weather Association for providing this!):

CASUALTY SUMMARY

On 15 January 1958, WB-50 #49-0295 departed Guam on the twelfth mission to be flown by the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron on Typhoon Ophelia. This aircraft was to obtain data on the typhoon including latest position and then return to Guam.

Radio contact was last made at l330Z, 15 January when they reported their position at 13-03 North Latitude and 135-20 East Longitude in the vicinity of the typhoon. No further contact was made with the aircraft.

Two hours after receipt of the last message 79th Air Rescue Squadron on Guam was alerted. A rescue aircraft departed at 1715Z for search and possible interception. Shortly thereafter, an intensive search was begun which during its course covered more than 500,000 square miles with areas or greatest probability searched numerous times and as thoroughly as possible.

Aircraft from 79th ARS, 54th WRS,and numerous other sources completed nearly one hundred sorties accomplishing over 1200 flying hours in the effort. This is believed to be the largest Search and Rescue operation of its type ever conducted. The joint Air Force and Navy search mission was suspended on 23 January 1958. However, special weather reconnaissance missions were flown until l5 February. These flights included investigation of possible emergency landing areas, i.e. islands, reefs, and atolls within possible range of the missing aircraft. Watch was also maintained on emergency radio frequencies. 79th ARS also continued modified search operations for a period after 23 January.

After all survival possibilities had been checked with negative results the status of the missing crew members was changed from "missing" to "dead" on 20 February 1958. The following is a list of crew members lost aboard WB-5O #49-0295 :

Aircraft Commander- Captain Albert J Lauer
AO 2095765

Pilot- Captain Clyde W Tefertiller
AO 751488

Weathar Observer- Captain Marcus G Miller
AO 751488

Navigator- First Lieutenant Courtland Beeler III
AO 2210728

Navigator- First Lieutenant Paul J Buerkle Jr
AO3053321

F1ight Engineer- Technical Sergeant De1ivan L Gordon
AF 57625218

Flight Engineer- Staff Sergeant Kenneth L Tetzloff
AFl7336278

Radio Operator- Staff Sergeant Kenneth L Houseman
AF 17319484

Radio Operator- Airman First Class Randolph C Watts
AF 14382160

Weather Technician- Airman First Class Bernard G Tullgren


I spoke with Hank Woollard, whose father, Slaton Woolard, flew into Typhoon Ophelia on the hunter flight just prior to the lost flight. Mr. Woolard said his plane was so beat up by the turbulence when they penetrated the typhoon, he practically begged the flight operations control not to not let the following plane penetrate the storm. His plane was grounded for repairs for several months due to the damage it sustained. He theorized that the crash may have been related to lack of an engine air intake conversion done to most of the WB-50's when they adapted them from the very high altitude SAC service to weather reconnaisance. The conversion was to keep water out of the air intakes. Without the conversion, in certain wet weather circumstances, the engines could "drown out". One of the other WB-50 aircraft in the squadron almost went down for this reason.


Figure 1. A Popular Mechanics cover story from 1950 dramatized the dangers that the early typhoon hunters faced. From the article: "It is impossible for me to describe accurately or exaggerate the severity of the turbulence we encountered. To some it may sound utterly fantastic, but to me it was a flight for life. I have flown many weather missions in my 30 months with the 514th Reconnaissance Squadron. I have flown night combat missions in rough weather out of England, and I have instructed instrument flying in the States, but never have I dreamed of such turbulence as we encountered in Typhoon Beverly. It is amazing to me the ship held together as it did."

Previous posts in this series:
October 1, 1945 typhoon
Typhoon Wilma, 1952
Typhoon Doris, 1953
Hurricane Janet, 1955

Jeff Masters

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2057. BurnedAfterPosting
3:12 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
NEW BLOG!!
2056. BurnedAfterPosting
3:01 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Also 1997 and 2009 are nothing like each other

1997 saw a very strong El Nino, and an early season start that went quiet at the end

2055. Skyepony (Mod)
3:01 PM GMT on July 27, 2009


HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- Officials on South Carolina's lower coast worry if they will have enough water and wonder if storing water in the winter for summer use may be part of the answer.

The Island Packet of Hilton Head reports the Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority is studying where it will get water for the next 50 years.

General Manager Dean Moss says the recent Southeastern drought and population growth worry the agency which draws from the Savannah River.

Savannah, Ga., also uses the river and there are worries that Atlanta could also tap the river after a federal judge ruled the city was illegally using a federal reservoir.

Moss says the authority could provide water if demand remains the same through 2060. But growth is expected to double demand.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37342
2054. BurnedAfterPosting
2:58 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Quoting CycloneOz:
2009 Hurricane Names (A-E)

Ana
Bill
Claudette
Danny
Erika

1997 Hurricane Names (A-E)

Ana
Bill
Claudette
Danny
Erika

2009 could be a cursed year for TC formation just as 1997 was! (YEA!)

Most of the other names from 1997 are on 2009's list, too! :)

That year, Cat 1 Danny was the only storm to make landfall...and at Mullet Point, AL of all places.

The rest of that season's storms:



...as in FIZZLE!


look at 2003 though, same list, one of the most active on record with 16 named storms
2053. BurnedAfterPosting
2:57 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
I am finding something interesting here

3 of the most historic storms of all-time, which were retired, all formed in a year where a previously unnamed tropical system was found later that would have changed the lists.

In 1988 Gilbert formed one day after an previously unknown tropical storm did. Had it been caught in real-time, that system would have been Gilbert and the 888mb storm would have been Helene.

In 1992 a previously undetected subtropical storm in April would have been Andrew if caught in real-time. The storm that hit South Florida would have then been known as Bonnie.

Finally in 2005, it was determined that an unnamed tropical storm was detected in early October. Had it been caught in real-time it would have been named Tammy. The system that became Tammy would have been Wilma. Therefore the 882mb record-breaking storm would have been Alpha.


Looking back at a few other high impact storms, Hugo, Georges, Mitch or any of the storms from 2004 or any other storms from 2005; would not have been a different storm. In other words there were no other unnamed storms in those years that would have affected the naming lists.
2052. Skyepony (Mod)
2:56 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Dog home with family 10 months after Ike

CLEAR LAKE, Texas (AP) — A 4-year-old dog long gone in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike is back with her family in Clear Lake.

September’s storm blew down a fence at the home of Joe and Kathy Bauer.

They took Daizy and her canine companion, Hank, to a kennel until they could fix the fence.

Both dogs got out. Joe Bauer found Hank in a wooded area the same day the Blue Lacys slipped away.

The family went online, handed out fliers and put up yard signs with Daizy’s photo.

KHOU-TV reports family friends last week noticed a dog wandering in Webster, less than 1 mile from the kennel. The Bauers again went searching.

Kathy Bauer late Thursday whistled for the pet. She says Daizy came running and “lifted her paw for a handshake.”
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37342
2051. mobilegirl81
2:54 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
isnt that about the time the MJO upward pulse begins to go in affect ?
Member Since: August 31, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 833
2050. CycloneOz
2:53 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
2009 Hurricane Names (A-E)

Ana
Bill
Claudette
Danny
Erika

1997 Hurricane Names (A-E)

Ana
Bill
Claudette
Danny
Erika

2009 could be a cursed year for TC formation just as 1997 was! (YEA!)

Most of the other names from 1997 are on 2009's list, too! :)

That year, Cat 1 Danny was the only storm to make landfall...and at Mullet Point, AL of all places.

The rest of that season's storms:



...as in FIZZLE!
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 3617
2049. WaterWitch11
2:53 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Quoting BurnedAfterPosting:
I was looking back at the 1893 hurricane season and it made me realize, that when things fall into place, it is very easy to get 3 or 4 storms in a short amount of time

Dont underestimate how quickly it can get active


i'll i have to say is when i keep seeing people state that this year a bust or people repeatedly freaking out for a storm to happen this second, this thought continuously runs through my head:

Be careful for what you wish for, i think a monster is coming to east coast.

Good Morning Everyone!
Member Since: August 11, 2008 Posts: 3 Comments: 1570
2048. BenBIogger
2:52 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Positive NAO for mid to late August.

Member Since: March 19, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1421
2047. koneofdeath
2:49 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Quoting BurnedAfterPosting:


I am glad you said it, I looked at the comment and was like huh? lol



Quoting BurnedAfterPosting:
I also think a "this season is a bust" comment is more directly related to the individual expectations

If someone expects development in June and July based on what happened last year, more often than not you will be disappointed in what you see.



Remember The "A" word 1992. That was the end off August.
Member Since: June 15, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 35
2045. mobilegirl81
2:41 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Back in the 2004 season that is
Member Since: August 31, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 833
2044. jeffs713
2:41 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Quoting tigerfanintexas:
That's not right. If your team is going to lose it has to be early in the season. If you lose late in the season it is a bust. Similar to this hurricane season. Some people see it as a loss with no activity, but it is early. Now if there is no storms in the peak season then it will be a bust. Hurricane season is just now getting ready to start conference play.

This statement was true until the BCS got involved. Now with the BCS, good luck trying to make sense of it.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5871
2043. mobilegirl81
2:40 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
I remember the talk on the news about the saharan dust and how it was not affecting the hurricanes...as a matter of fact the hurricanes were bringing dust to the US with them.
Member Since: August 31, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 833
2042. jeffs713
2:40 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Quoting crownwx:


Yep, spent the weekend not watching the pot and waiting for it to boil. I instead spent the weekend running errands, working on the honey do list and having a movie marathon. With that said, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND "I Am Legend". Never seen it before until last weekend and want to see it again.

I agree. One of Will Smith's better acting performances.

Relaxing and enjoying the summer is a MUCH better alternative to watching the Atlantic obsessively and waiting for something to spin up.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5871
2041. TampaSpin
2:37 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Just remember all WHAT YOU WISH FOR, may not be what you really wanted.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
2040. ozprof
2:34 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Yet another disturbance just to the east of the Philippines looks like it is trying to get some circulation going.
Member Since: December 4, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 30
2039. BurnedAfterPosting
2:29 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Also look at 1998, Alex forms in late July

2nd named storm doesnt form until August 19th, yet 14 named storms form

the link between 1893 and 1998?

Only two seasons on record where 4 hurricanes existed at the same time.
2038. BurnedAfterPosting
2:26 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Quoting tigerfanintexas:
That's not right. If your team is going to lose it has to be early in the season. If you lose late in the season it is a bust. Similar to this hurricane season. Some people see it as a loss with no activity, but it is early. Now if there is no storms in the peak season then it will be a bust. Hurricane season is just now getting ready to start conference play.


I am glad you said it, I looked at the comment and was like huh? lol
2037. crownwx
2:26 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Quoting Weather456:
I think it stems from the fact that they are watching the pot to boil.

A watched pot never boils.


Yep, spent the weekend not watching the pot and waiting for it to boil. I instead spent the weekend running errands, working on the honey do list and having a movie marathon. With that said, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND "I Am Legend". Never seen it before until last weekend and want to see it again.
Member Since: December 27, 2004 Posts: 3 Comments: 207
2036. jeffs713
2:24 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Quoting DestinJeff:


nice example ... go Cards.


*sigh*

I don't like the Cards, but my team is in the NL Central also, so... I'm a bit biased. At least you like a team with some class. (The last Astros-Cards game I went to, I had the pleasure of sitting next to a Cards fan. A VERY nice guy that was very gracious when the Astros won after 11 innings. Most other fans would not be anything nearly as gracious.)
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5871
2034. tigerfanintexas
2:21 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Quoting DestinJeff:
to some Hurrican season is like NCAA football ... if your team loses early in the season, then it is likely a "bust" because of the way things are. with no tropical action in June/July many write of the hurricane season in a similar way.

one problem will be the inundation of "i told you so" posts as soon as we get one or two systems spinning at once.
That's not right. If your team is going to lose it has to be early in the season. If you lose late in the season it is a bust. Similar to this hurricane season. Some people see it as a loss with no activity, but it is early. Now if there is no storms in the peak season then it will be a bust. Hurricane season is just now getting ready to start conference play.
2033. BurnedAfterPosting
2:21 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
The 1893 Season did have two named storms, one in June and one in July

we could see two systems reclassified in post-season, that isnt important now


anyway the 3rd storm didnt form until August 13th, then starting with that storm, 5 hurricanes formed in a 7 day span, with the 5th of those forming on August 20th

Four of them existed at the same time on August 22nd. Of the 5 hurricanes, 3 of them impacted land; one in Newfoundland, one on Long Island and the other was the imfamous Sea Island Hurricane in Georgia.

The next storm didnt form until September 4th and the month of September only had 3 storms, the season ended up with 12 storms total.

Basically when conditions fall right in the heart of the season, it is easy to get 3 or 4 storms in short order, I think many that are saying 5 named storms fail to realize how quickly we can get several storms at once.
2032. taco2me61
2:21 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Good Morning Everybody,

Kinda just checking in to see what all are saying..... And ,well not much....
I still think it is early and we will have something to see and follow in the next couple of weeks..... Then of course everybody will go "Nuts".... But kind of "Nuts" already waiting on that 1st one....

Taco :0)
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 3237
2031. BenBIogger
2:20 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
I hate malware !
Member Since: March 19, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1421
2029. BurnedAfterPosting
2:18 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
I was looking back at the 1893 hurricane season and it made me realize, that when things fall into place, it is very easy to get 3 or 4 storms in a short amount of time

Dont underestimate how quickly it can get active
2028. BurnedAfterPosting
2:15 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
I also think a "this season is a bust" comment is more directly related to the individual expectations

If someone expects development in June and July based on what happened last year, more often than not you will be disappointed in what you see.
2027. jeffs713
2:15 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Quoting DestinJeff:
to some Hurrican season is like NCAA football ... if your team loses early in the season, then it is likely a "bust" because of the way things are. with no tropical action in June/July many write of the hurricane season in a similar way.

one problem will be the inundation of "i told you so" posts as soon as we get one or two systems spinning at once.

Let me start them off for you: "I told you so".

Personally, if you need a sports analogy, baseball is a good one. Baseball season is 162 games long, and roughly 6 months. If a team is 15-23 at the start of the season, it is by no means a lost cause. A 2 month stretch where your team wins 2 out of 3 games will put you in a great playoff position. (I call it "zero to hero") Hurricane season is no different. The start can suck, but a solid run mid-season can turn a slow season into a busy one.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5871
2026. Cavin Rawlins
2:15 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Quoting IKE:


456...that's what we're all doing on here.


Some of us have been patient about the situation thus far.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
2024. BurnedAfterPosting
2:13 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
A bust is described as something that holds high regard, fails to meet the expectations

So was everyones' expectations for June and July to be active? Can you really determine something as a bust until the process is over?

I find it hard pressed to call any athlete a bust before their career is 2 years old, kinda the same thing here. How can you determine something is a bust, when we dont know what will happen.

Hey if we get 5 named storms from now until November 30th and none have impacts on land, then you would be right to call the season a bust, but not on July 27th. Oh and the words "so far" doesnt justify it either, what did you expect for June and July?
2023. IKE
2:11 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Quoting DestinJeff:
to some Hurrican season is like NCAA football ... if your team loses early in the season, then it is likely a "bust" because of the way things are. with no tropical action in June/July many write of the hurricane season in a similar way.

one problem will be the inundation of "i told you so" posts as soon as we get one or two systems spinning at once.


Exactly. You know that's going to happen.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
2022. Cavin Rawlins
2:11 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
The 5 named storms are not based on anything but what the early part of the season has brought. Only human nature to assume what's happening now will continue.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
2019. IKE
2:10 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Quoting Weather456:
I think it stems from the fact that they are watching the pot to boil.

A watched pot never boils.


456...that's what we're all doing on here.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
2018. Cavin Rawlins
2:08 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
I think it stems from the fact that they are watching the pot to boil.

A watched pot never boils.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
2017. jeffs713
2:08 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Quoting amd:
Just found this online:

New Texas law states that police have the right to remove individuals from their own property when a mandatory evacuation order is issued.

Whether police actually enforce the law is another story altogether.

Link

About time. I personally think that if someone refuses a mandatory evacuation order, they should be left there and not get *any* assistance (or rescue) when it hits the fan. But, I know that won't happen in my lifetime. Call it natural selection in action. (and I know some won't like that statement, but oh well).

If someone is self-centered enough or dumb enough to stick it out through a mandatory evac order, they deserve whatever comes for them. Material possessions can be replaced. Lives can't. Listen to the authorities... when they say "you need to leave"... LEAVE!
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5871
2016. IKE
2:07 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Quoting Weather456:


trust I'm not referring to the hurricane season since it is pretty normal and we had stuff to track. I'm talking about the blog. I just don't understand why we putting so much stock in June and July which accounts for 10% of the season's ACE. The impatience is growing and overbearing to the point where persons are forecasting 3 named storms.


Just look beyond what they say. Who knows...they may be right? Otherwise you'll die a painful death on this blog.

People follow the NFL "season" because you get to see action weekly. If the NFL was a dull as this has been, you would have people talking the same bs they do on here.

If someone thinks the season is a bust, so be it. So far it has been. That doesn't mean it will stay that way.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
2014. jeffs713
2:06 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Quoting Weather456:


trust I'm not referring to the hurricane season since it is pretty normal and we had stuff to track. I'm talking about the blog. I just don't understand why we putting so much stock in June and July which accounts for 10% of the season's ACE. The impatience is growing and overbearing to the point where persons are forecasting 3 named storms.

Personally, I find it amusing how much people are getting bent out of shape because the season has had a *normal* start, instead of a jump start. I have a feeling I will be LMAO when it really picks up (in mid-to-late August), and the same people who were predicting 3 storms will start forecasting 15 named storms.

As Patrap posted a fancy graph several times yesterday, we are just starting to get to the point in the season where activity really ramps up. A lot can happen between now and November 30th. (I don't think I need to cite examples.... plenty have already been cited)
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5871
2013. amd
2:04 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Just found this online:

New Texas law states that police have the right to remove individuals from their own property when a mandatory evacuation order is issued.

Whether police actually enforce the law is another story altogether.

Link
Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1024
2012. Cavin Rawlins
2:00 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Quoting Dakster:
Weather456 - Why do you say that?

Looking for some excitement I take it?


trust I'm not referring to the hurricane season since it is pretty normal and we had stuff to track. I'm talking about the blog. I just don't understand why we putting so much stock in June and July which accounts for 10% of the season's ACE. The impatience is growing and overbearing to the point where persons are forecasting 3 named storms.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
2011. BurnedAfterPosting
2:00 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
I think 456 is referring to the amount of jumping to conclusions that is going on lol

Had no chance of that last season because July was busy

No idea how it was here the other years, but I think that is what he is referring to.
2010. IKE
2:00 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
2009. stoormfury
1:58 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
ike happy u have a sense of humour LOL
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2600
2008. IKE
1:55 PM GMT on July 27, 2009
Quoting Dakster:
Weather456 - Why do you say that?

Looking for some excitement I take it?


All of us are...

2009 has been a no-show so far.

Comebacks welcome, even from stoormfury.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.