The Lost Hurricane/Typhoon Hunters VI: Typhoon Bess, October 12th, 1974

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:20 PM GMT on December 28, 2009

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It's getting to be the end of the year, and its time to conclude the 6-part series I began earlier this year honoring the memory of the hurricane and typhoon hunter missions that never returned to base. I've made a permanent link to the series on the "Articles of Interest" section of our tropical/hurricane page.

The most recent recent loss of a Hurricane Hunter flight came on October 12, 1974. An Air Force WC-130H (tail number 65-0965, call sign Swan 38), from the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron based at Anderson AFB, Guam, was lost in the South China Sea while flying Category 1 Typhoon Bess. Bess had formed east of the Philippines on October 8, then passed over northern Luzon Island on the 11th, triggering flooding and landslides that killed 29 people and caused $9 million in damage. On the 12th, Bess emerged over the South China Sea as a minimal Category 1 typhoon with 75 mph winds, and "Swan 38" was sent out to provide reconnaissance information. The aircraft had only recently arrived at the 54th WRS after having been converted to WC-130H, and had previously spent eight years assigned to combat rescue as an HC-130H. Swan 38 departed Clark Air Base in the Philippines, and successfully completed its first penetration and most of an "Alpha pattern" peripheral track. They were preparing for their second penetration, on the north side of the storm about 400 miles northwest of Clark AFB, when the last radio contact came at about 2200. An investigation board later speculated the crew was on the final leg inbound to make a second fix when they encountered some catastrophic problem. No emergency communications were received. Four days of relentless searching by rescue aircraft and two surface ships proved unsuccessful, and the six crewmen were declared missing and presumed dead. The name "Bess" was retired from the active list of typhoon names as a result of the loss, and the call sign "Swan 38" was also retired. A plaque honoring the crew was affixed to the squadron building at Andersen AFB (the plaque was removed when the 54th closed in 1987, and it's whereabouts are currently unknown). The crew members, carried on AWS rolls as Killed In Action, were:

Capt Edward R. Bushnell
1Lt Gary W. Crass
1Lt Michael P. O'Brien
1Lt Timothy J. Hoffman
TSgt Kenneth G. Suhr
Sgt Detlef W. Ringler


Figure 1. Above: plaque dedicated to the crew of Swan 38 (WC-130H 65-0965), located at Kirtland AFB. Inset image, top left: Swan 38 during an engine-running crew change at Guam in 1974. Image credit: Tom Robison.

Sources: Air Reconnaissance Weather Association May 2008 Newsletter; New York Times 13 Oct 1974 58:1; http://www.awra.us/WhiskeyCharlie.html by Tom Robison, 1974 Annual Typhoon report of the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Other notes:
The Air Force has had 24 weather reconnaissance missions that have resulted in loss of life; only three of these were typhoon flights. A full list of the missions is at the Air Weather Reconnaissance Association web site.

Special addendum: a Cold War mystery
September 10, 1956: An Air Force RB-50G Superfortress flying in the vicinity of Typhoon Emma was lost over the Sea of Japan. This was not a typhoon hunting aircraft, as is often reported. The aircraft was stationed at Yokota Air Base, Japan, and assigned to the 41st Air Division, 5th Air Force, and was performing electronic of photographic intelligence of the Soviet Union, North Korea, and China. The military gave out a "cover story" saying that the aircraft was lost performing weather reconnaissance. From Bernie Barris of the Air Reconnaissance Weather Association, "This aircraft was NOT lost in a typhoon penetration, nor was it shot down by the Soviets, as was often speculated. It was an RB-50G on a Strategic Reconnaissance mission. Everything I've read is that they were on the fringes of the typhoon, but more than likely the plane was lost due to mechanical problems, which plagued the B-50 in the 1950's. The typhoon did impact search efforts. The Soviets never released any records of tracking or attacking this flight; it is one of those true Cold War mysteries."


Figure 2. 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."

Next post
My final post of the year will be on Wednesday or Thursday. I plan to present my pick for the top U.S. weather story of 2009.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
some places may see as much as 25 cm or 12 inches but thats in the worst spots they come in bands right now we have some heavy flurries from time to time in my location with about 3 to 5 cm on the ground but the wind keeps blowing it away making look worst than it really is


Well, I knew for awhile that you were wondering where winter went :0). It's back, with a vengance. The WFO in San Francisco, CA said that this El Nino is unusual, like the one in 1976-77. That was the year when there was plenty of cold, Arctic air in the USA. The AO index was "off he charts" at -6, the AOI is negative the PNA is positive. All makes the perfect combination of Arctic air intrusions and wild, winter storms!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting Bordonaro:


When your born and raised in Southern Ontario, like KOG, you get used to it! It's a drier cold than Long Island, where I grew up!! At 27F a NE wind at 20 MPH and it snowing sideways is just a raw, biting cold that chills you to the bone. That's why I moved to Arlington, TX :0)
iam actually a newfoundlander from st johns oldest city in north america sailed the north atlantic with my grandfather from age 9 till 16 when not in school mostly in summer seen many a bad storm some i never want to see again iam a tranplant to ont here for the work and money taking care of the wife and my 9 year old son
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53809
keeper...do people actually go outside, like going to the store, or going to the movies, in that sort of stuff?

or do ya'll just look out the window and say wow, that's absolutely horrifying out there.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 165 Comments: 25923
Quoting severstorm:

this is interesting my low tonight is 36 and at this time already down to 40 and not a breeze.


Clear skies, light or no winds, the air temp can drop down to the dew point. So tomorrow morning it may be a frosty 33 or 34F, instead of 26F. If the dew point drops further, you may hit 31 or 32F :0)
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting Bordonaro:


How much snow are younexpecting tonight? With all that wind I am sure you are all getting some good Lake Effect Snow-squalls going in up in S. Ontario. I lived in Buffalo, NY for 1 1/2 yrs, I saw all the snow I wanted to see and more!
some places may see as much as 25 cm or 12 inches but thats in the worst spots they come in bands right now we have some heavy flurries from time to time in my location with about 3 to 5 cm on the ground but the wind keeps blowing it away making look worst than it really is
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53809
Quoting aquak9:
sorry, keeper, that's still absolutely horrifying.


When your born and raised in Southern Ontario, like KOG, you get used to it! It's a drier cold than Long Island, where I grew up!! At 27F a NE wind at 20 MPH and it snowing sideways is just a raw, biting cold that chills you to the bone. That's why I moved to Arlington, TX :0)
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting aquak9:
sorry, keeper, that's still absolutely horrifying.


that last wind gust of 40 mph
took the chill down to -0.3f
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53809
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


How much snow are younexpecting tonight? With all that wind I am sure you are all getting some good Lake Effect Snow-squalls going in up in S. Ontario. I lived in Buffalo, NY for 1 1/2 yrs, I saw all the snow I wanted to see and more!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
sorry, keeper, that's still absolutely horrifying.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 165 Comments: 25923
x
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53809
Quoting Patrap:
A link cannot slow down the blog,the wunderblogs only use on a Busy day,3-5% of the server.



Thanks, I'm currently writing a question for WunderBlogAdmin.
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Quoting AussieStorm:
Morning all.
I have uploading the photo's I took while i was away. You can find them here
Feel free to comment.


Beautiful big sky scenery. I would love to camp in the outback to see your night sky.
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this is interesting my low tonight is 36 and at this time already down to 40 and not a breeze.
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Quoting Patrap:
Spoke to AIM today,NEVER post a pic with a Weapon Pointed,ADMIN will bounce one everytime for any seemingly violent content,as im sure someone flagged her post.

I got the boot for a off-topic image of Gilda Radner.

It's Dr. Jeff Masters entry here,not Facebook or a personal blog.

There are Specific Rules regarding posting here and its in the below comment box,as well as The Community Standards.

Admin Notice: When using Dr. Masters' blog, please refrain from posting material not relevant to the discussion of tropical weather, or the topic of the blog entry itself. Please do not engage in personal attacks or bickering. Material not conforming to these standards should be flagged with the button and ignored.

Lotsa young folk and children use this site and it has to remain clean as possible here.


I miss them both and you have a very valid point. I remember my 24 hr ban for posting a You Tube of the SNL McLaughlin report spoof! Won't do that again!!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting Tazmanian:



you guys are not slowing me down yet LOL am this talking about the one that dont have high sleep net that are trying too come on here but how can they if its full of moveing temper


Taz, you have a big heart, you're truly a good guy :o)!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Spoke to AIM today,NEVER post a pic with a Weapon Pointed,ADMIN will bounce one everytime for any seemingly violent content,as im sure someone flagged her post.

I got the boot for a off-topic image of Gilda Radner.

It's Dr. Jeff Masters entry here,not Facebook or a personal blog.

There are Specific Rules regarding posting here and its in the below comment box,as well as The Community Standards.

Admin Notice: When using Dr. Masters' blog, please refrain from posting material not relevant to the discussion of tropical weather, or the topic of the blog entry itself. Please do not engage in personal attacks or bickering. Material not conforming to these standards should be flagged with the button and ignored.

Lotsa young folk and children use this site and it has to remain clean as possible here.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128259
i think most are on high speed now taz a low percent on dial up maybe and some on sat link but for most part i beleive most on high speed
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53809
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
161. Bordonaro 12:56 AM GMT on December 29, 2009
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
i hope that's not because of link i posted my blog is a little loaded ya need high speed to see it best


KOG, why don't you give Taz the links to some of the EMCWF maps seperately, so he can see them one at a time! I have RoadRunner and you slow my computer down a bit too!!
Action: Quote | Ignore User



the maps are generated for the models self expire over time must be man. selected to be refreshed or the link expirers and cannot refresh


OK, thanks.
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
RealClimate is out with updates to model-data comparisons.
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Quoting Bordonaro:


Taz, we don't mean to slow you down or keep you out, promise! Is there something in particular you'd like to see, like GFS map links, name it, I'll try to find it for you!



you guys are not slowing me down yet LOL am this talking about the one that dont have high sleep net that are trying too come on here but how can they if its full of moveing temper
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161. Bordonaro 12:56 AM GMT on December 29, 2009
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
i hope that's not because of link i posted my blog is a little loaded ya need high speed to see it best


KOG, why don't you give Taz the links to some of the EMCWF maps seperately, so he can see them one at a time! I have RoadRunner and you slow my computer down a bit too!!
Action: Quote | Ignore User



the maps are generated for the models self expire over time must be man. selected to be refreshed or the link expirers and cannot refresh
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53809
Patrap I agree with you! Taz, I am looking through the GFS 18Z Model Run for you. There is a huge storm scheduled to slam British Columbia on Day 16, 372HRS from now, link below:

Link
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
AIM "Nana" received a two-day ban. So Admin. is back in action.
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Good God I cant wait for spring.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I Know,..KOTG has a good site,we been bloggin together 4 years here,but the page has WAY too many animated pages,and that's what slows down the loading,even on my system.

One can use a link instead of the open page running 24/7.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128259
Quoting Patrap:
A link cannot slow down the blog,the wunderblogs only use on a Busy day,3-5% of the server.



Hey Patrap. KOG's blog is awesome, he has several model maps running at once, animated radars, it even slows my high-speed internet a bit going through the blog. I believe Taz has a slower internet connection.
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
A link cannot slow down the blog,the wunderblogs only use on a Busy day,3-5% of the server.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128259
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
i hope that's not because of link i posted my blog is a little loaded ya need high speed to see it best


KOG, why don't you give Taz the links to some of the EMCWF maps seperately, so he can see them one at a time! I have RoadRunner and you slow my computer down a bit too!!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting Tazmanian:
are you guys trying to make the blog too where no one can come on at all???


you guys got too think about the ones that dont have high sleep Internet
i hope that's not because of link i posted my blog is a little loaded ya need high speed to see it best
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53809
Quoting Tazmanian:
are you guys trying to make the blog too where no one can come on at all???


you guys got too think about the ones that dont have high sleep Internet


Taz, we don't mean to slow you down or keep you out, promise! Is there something in particular you'd like to see, like GFS map links, name it, I'll try to find it for you!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
the most recent model runs are on my blog see link the next ones come out near midnight

Link


Hey, KOG, thanks a million! The frame I want to see next is not there yet, I guess I have to wait, like everybody else :0(. However the Polar Vortex is going to send several shots of Arctic air into the entire Midwest region, the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, down to the Southeast ad=nd Florida. A portion gets sent into the Northern/Central Great Plains and POOF, gotta wait for the next run..
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Morning all.
I have uploading the photo's I took while i was away. You can find them here
Feel free to comment.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15935
are you guys trying to make the blog too where no one can come on at all???


you guys got too think about the ones that dont have high sleep Internet
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Quoting Bordonaro:
Hello, hello, hello, echo, echo, echo :0). Beell or KOG, any recent EMCWF updates for 1-4-10 or 1-05-10. Curious as to where they place the Polar Vortex.

I know GFS/EMCWF and the Alaska Mid-range models have the Polar Vortex moving into the Canadian Archipelago.

GFS/EMCWF then have the Arctic/Siberian air moving into the USA. EMCWF states Monday 1-4-10 high in Dallas-Ft Worth, TX will be in the 30's. However the GFS disagrees, giving N TX a "glancing blow".

Then the Alaska mid-range models are providing inconsistent forecasts, even has the Polar Vortex retreating!
the most recent model runs are on my blog see link the next ones come out near midnight

Link
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53809
X
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53809
Hello, hello, hello, echo, echo, echo :0). Beell or KOG, any recent EMCWF updates for 1-4-10 or 1-05-10. Curious as to where they place the Polar Vortex.

I know GFS/EMCWF and the Alaska Mid-range models have the Polar Vortex moving into the Canadian Archipelago.

GFS/EMCWF then have the Arctic/Siberian air moving into the USA. EMCWF states Monday 1-4-10 high in Dallas-Ft Worth, TX will be in the 30's. However the GFS disagrees, giving N TX a "glancing blow".

Then the Alaska mid-range models are providing inconsistent forecasts, even has the Polar Vortex retreating!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
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Quoting severstorm:


Friend, Plant City, FL has a barometric pressure of 30.17 inches of mercury, if you want to set your barometer :0)
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Quoting AllyBama:
Doug - I am with you!..the record snowfall for Mobile is 6" - would love to see that record broke!..lol


me too. I'm kinda stupid that way...

:)
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(originally posted on the wrong blog, that's why the information is outdated)

Wow, the blog has picked up! I'll need to re-examine some of the indicators before I post my first blog entry (yes, I know, "one cannot build a reputation on what he is going to do"). This may be rather nessecary at this time but I know not to rush myself.

I actually have several friends in Florida right now (yes, because Canadians like to go to Florida in winter). Since I'm more aware of the current weather pattern, I will need some more help from the WeatherUnderground community to forecast the possible travel delays, otherwise they may become stuck.

The temperature was at 6:24 pm -5.1C, but four minutes before it was -4.9C and now at 6:28 EST it is -5.3C so it was currently falling steadily at the rate of 6C per hour (update: -5.6C, 6:37 EST)! Winds are strong and gusty after the cold front passed the area, and now strong snowsqualls are streaming directly towards us which has not happened previously this winter. I am now seeing rapid snowsqualls that hit the cities and towns farther north.
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Quoting hydrus:
bar. 29.39? seems kinda low?


I assume these are all PWS?
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Quoting severstorm:
bar. 29.39? seems kinda low?
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Surprised Grothar, MIA and Matt are not posting tonight.
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143. beell
Quoting AllyBama:


aqua - ...I can hardly wait for the fashion show!..ROFL


ditto
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Doug - I am with you!..the record snowfall for Mobile is 6" - would love to see that record broke!..lol
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Quoting aquak9:
gulf coast snow?

heh heh heh..bring it to Jacksonville, and well...ya'll know the rest.


aqua - ...I can hardly wait for the fashion show!..ROFL
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Quoting aquak9:
keeper, that's absolutely horrifying.
overnight
lows near 0f -18c tonight
chills -25c -30c -10 -15f
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53809
in the summer , i always walked on the white line,, lol.. in nc, not denver.. it was a dry cold,, in denver,, i think people do not realize that,, since im back in nc ,, its miserable when its 34 33 degrees and rain,, the only ice storm in denver , i can recall , a bus almost hit me. it slid into the bus stop on colfax,, i ran
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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.