The 53rd WRS moved
to Burtonwood in November 1953 & used the ‘C’ type
hangars on Mary Ann site, with a complement of 8
converted B-29 bomber’s to WB29’s & later replaced
They were assigned to
collecting weather data for (MATS) which stands
for ‘Military Air Transport Services’.
Each day they flew triangular
patterns known as ‘Falcon Flights’ covering about
2,600 miles & averaging 16 hours each flight over
‘Delta Flights’ left each day
at Burtonwood at: 0700 hrs GMT & flew a track to
the Azores - then South of Greenland – then set
course East, back to home base at Burtonwood.
The flight was 3,686 miles
long & the average flying time was 15 hours.
The weathermen on the
aircraft recorded data such as: Pressure,
Temperature, Wind Speed, Humidity, Cloud
Conditions & Visibility.
The 53rd WRS left
Burtonwood for re-assignment to Alconbury in
Cambridgeshire in April 1959.
WRS Crash at Lupton Fell (Nr Kendal in the Lake
On the 25th of
October 1955 Falcoln Flight WB-29-44-61600
Superfortress developed engine failure on engines
1,2 & 4 at 3,200 feet & crashed.
All 11 crew safely landed by
parachute & the aircraft was abandoned.
The very next day, personnel
from Burtonwood arrived at the crash site & began
to investigate what caused the aircraft crash &
too remove all of the wreckage.
Earlier this month (May 2012)
we were lucky enough to make contact with someone
who was actually involved with the 53rd
His name is ‘Dennis Sullivan’
& he served at Burtonwood from Feb/1954 till
Here in Dennis’s own words is
what his role was in the 53rd & a
little about the system that they used whilst on
these long missions:
“My job was a Ground Crew Chief
(I was Staff Sgt.) in charge of the airborne radar systems for
4 of our 8 planes. There were three systems on
Navigation (this was the
familiar circular display that depicts the land
mass below), the second system was LORAN which
gave you three points of reference which then
enabled you to determine your position.
The last was a radio
altimeter which gauged your altitude.
The normal complement of crew
was ten. I was not a crew member on flying status.
I was only on a flying crew if there was a
malfunction in the air that wasn' t apparent when
Below are photos that Dennis
has kindly emailed to us from his own private
collection (please NO copying without permission
from Dennis himself).
Boeing WB50 Super Fortress Landing at Burtonwood
Boeing WB50 Super Fortress on one of the 'Open'
Days in the 1950's.
weather sampling turret on top of the fuselage)
Boeing WB50 Super Fortress on Mary Ann Site Next
to one of the 'C' Type Hangars.
Ferry Cooling Towers Can Clearly be Seen in the
Weather Reconnaissance on a Falcon Alpha Mission
1957 Over the Ice Pack.
Weather Reconnaissance Loading Mailbags of
Christmas Cards to be Dropped at the North Pole
for Santa Claus.