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'Rivet Amber'



Nineteen U.S. Air Force personnel and the U.S. Air Force's most expensive aircraft at the time.


Total Persons on Board:

Nineteen U.S. Air Force personnel in total

Lt Col. Charles B. MichaudMaj. Peter S. CarpenterMaj. Richard N. Martel
Capt. Michael E. MillsMaj. Horace G. BeasleyMaj. Rudolph J. Meissner
Capt. James F. RayT/Sgt. Hervey HebertS/Sgt. Roy L. Lindsey
M/Sgt. Herbert C. GregoryT/Sgt. Charles F. DreherS/Sgt. Richard J. Steen Jr.
T/Sgt. Lester J. SchatzS/Sgt. Robert W. FoxSgt. Douglas Arcano
T/Sgt. Donald F. WondersT/Sgt. Eugene L. BenevidesSgt. Sherman E. Consolver Jr.
 Sgt. Lucian A. Rominiecki 


  June 5th, 1969


  Low clouds, fog, drizzle - clear air turbulence was noted in the area of flight

Flight Route:

Disappeared on a flight from Shemya AFB on a trip over the Bering Sea to Eielson AFB, Alaska

Area Believed Crashed:

Disappeared over the Bering Sea.

Reason for flight:

Flight to maintenance facility

Type Plane:

Boeing RC-135E (USAF Tail No. #62-4137) reconnaissance aircraft, nicknamed "Rivet Amber"

The "Rivet Amber" had a large Hughes phased-array radar system, weighing 35,000 pounds and costing $35 million, installed in its fuselage. The system could track an object the size of a soccer ball from a distance of 300 miles, and its mission was to monitor Soviet ballistic missile launches.

Search efforts: 

About thirty minutes after departing Shemya, Rivet Amber (callsign Irene 92) transmitted the following message to Elmendorf AFB: "Elmendorf Airways, Irene 92 experiencing vibration in flight. Not certain of the emergency."  The flight crew advised Elmendorf that the crew was going on oxygen, and lowering in flight altitude.  Then, a series of microphone keying 'clicks' was heard, ending at 10:22 AM.

Unable to establish radio contact with Rivet Amber, Colonel Leslie W. Brockwell, of the 6th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, initiated a search and rescue operation. The Coast Guard was alerted immediately, dispatching several assets to the vicinity, and the search area was divided into squares, with each incoming aircraft was assigned a "box" to patrol. Some aircraft served as an airborne command post directing traffic, with search aircraft flying low and slow most of the time at 300 feet.

Nothing of the aircraft, nor its crew, equipment, or any debris, were ever found during the intensive three-week search.


There have been many theories put forth regarding the loss of Rivet Amber. The possibility that Rivet Amber was shot down is highly remote. The best theory is that the plane suffered some sort of catastrophic mechanical failure, as the last radio contact from the vessel mentioned "vibration in flight".

No one knows for sure exactly what caused the demise of Rivet Amber and all personnel onboard. Any proposed theories are just that without recovering the aircraft and submitting the parts for extensive analysis.

For more information, view the following:



Alaska's Bermuda Triangle

Examine every aspect of the mysterious disappearance of two congressmen that prompted the largest search and rescue operation ever launched by the U.S. military.



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