Joseph Ernest Wolfe, Jr. – Captain, United States Air Force

6-Engined Jet Bomber Falls on Take-Off in California Test

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, California, November 19, 1951 – A six-engined B-47 jet bomber crashed shortly after take-off here this afternoon, killing its three crew members.

The huge Stratojet, a high altitude and high speed Boeing bomber, crashed a quarter of a mile west of the runway just after it ad gone into the air on a routine test flight.  It exploded after the crash.

Those killed were Captain Joseph E. Wolfe, Jr, 33 years old, the pilot and Assistant Chief of the Experimental Test Operations Branch here; Major Robert A. Mortland, 30, the co-pilot, who was a West Point graduate, and Master Sergeant Christy N. Spiro, 32.

Captain Wolfe had 7,500 flying hours to his credit and had piloted the Bell UX-1 rocket plane.


EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, November 19, 1951 – A six-engine jet bomber crashed shortly after a take-off at this base this afternoon and the three crew members were killed.  The B-47 Stratojet crashed to the ground a quarter mile west of the runway.  It exploded after the crash.

The dead were Captain Joseph E. Wolfe, Jr., the pilot, Chattanooga, Tennessee; Major Robert A. Mortland, 30, co-pilot, of Clarion, Pennsylvania, and Sergeant Christy N. Spiro, 32, of Worcester, Massachusetts.

Officials at this base in the desert, an Air Force Flight Test Center, formerly named Muroc, said the bomber was beginning a routine test flight.

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