2019 Winter Friends Journal Sampler

Page 1





Winter 2019

Vol. 42 No. 1

The Magazine of the Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc. • afmuseum.com

Featured Articles 7 The Diffenbaugh Project 32 Searching for a Friend 48 Cargomaster Down

From the Executive Director “For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.” —Vincent Van Gogh. A few days ago I watched with wonder as a young woman experienced the Foundation’s Virtual Reality (VR) Transporter attraction. Whenever I ride it, I always look down at the incredible details of the earth below and the space station in orbit next to it. However, I noticed she was looking up the entire time. When she exited I asked her why? She looked at me and said “Why to look at the stars, of course.” Thanks to your generosity, we have been able to support the Museum and their efforts to integrate VR technology into their educational programming. The education team understands that as our young people grow in their use and acceptance of technology, their understanding of “reality” changes; and through that they change. The next step will be augmented reality. Where VR completely replaces the user’s vision of the real world with a simulated one, augmented reality brings multiple components of a digital world into a person’s perception of the real world through immersive sensations that are perceived as natural parts of an environment. VR technology allowed the young woman on the Virtual Reality Transporter attraction to see the earth from above, and the space station in orbit. And now she has seen the stars. In the future, we expect to use augmented reality to immerse her in those stars in ways she could only dream of before. And with your continued belief in her dreams, she will no doubt get there.

Mike Imhoff

On the Cover: Douglas C-133A Cargomaster. The turboprop C-133 was developed to fulfill USAF requirements for a large-capacity strategic cargo aircraft. The C-133A on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force™ established a world record for propeller-driven aircraft when, on Dec. 16, 1958, it carried a cargo payload of 117,900 pounds to an altitude of 10,000 feet. It was flown to the museum on March 17, 1971.



THE AIR FORCE MUSEUM FOUNDATION, INC. BOARD OF TRUSTEES Col Susan E. Richardson, USAF (Ret) - Chairman Dr. Pamela A. Drew - President Lt Gen C.D. Moore II, USAF (Ret) - Vice President CMSAF Gerald R. Murray, USAF (Ret) - Secretary Mr. Robert J. Suttman II, CFA - Treasurer Mr. John G. Brauneis Dr. Thomas J. Burns, PhD Brig Gen Paul R. Cooper, USAF (Ret) Mr. Timothy O. Cornell, CIMA Mr. Roger D. Duke Ms. Frances A. Duntz Ms. Anita Emoff Mr. David C. Evans Col Frederick D. Gregory Sr., USAF (Ret) Mr. Benjamin T. Guthrie Maj Gen E. Ann Harrell, USAF (Ret) Mr. James L. Jennings Dr. Thomas J. Lasley II Gen Gary L. North, USAF (Ret) Gen Charles T. Robertson Jr., USAF (Ret) Maj Gen Frederick F. Roggero, USAF (Ret) Mr. Philip L. Soucy Mr. Harry W. (Wes) Stowers Jr.

EMERITUS BOARD MEMBERS Col Mark Brown, USAF (Ret) Mr. James F. Dicke II Mr. Charles J. Faruki Col William S. Harrell, USAF (Ret) Mr. Jon G. Hazelton Mr. Charles F. Kettering III Mr. Patrick L. McGohan Lt Gen Richard V. Reynolds, USAF (Ret) Mr. R. Daniel Sadlier Col James B. Schepley, USAF (Ret)

Revea l M emp h is B el16le , 2 0 18 M ay

US Air Force


MEMPHIS BELLE™ 42,954 guests attended the Memphis Belle opening weekend


568 miles — farthest distance traveled M ove M emp h is B el14le, 2 0 18 M ar ch APPRECIATION FOR MUSEUM VOLUNTEERS 1 Appreciation Banquet honoring 623 volunteers

educational experiences

on March 14th to watch the Memphis Belle move into the Museum during 24-degree temperatures

GIFTS FROM YOU $1M was the largest gift from a current Foundation member

32 members joined the Foundation’s

STE M educ at ion.

Legacy Society by making a planned gift

109,998 hours

worked by those volunteers worth over $2.7M — the equivalent of 52 full-time employees

FOUNDATION FAMILY 8,490 Foundation family members hail from 50 states and 18 foreign countries

afmuseum.com | 937.258.1225 Winter 2019 • FRIENDS JOURNAL 3 friends@afmuseum.com

Contents F E AT U R E S T O R I E S




Cargomaster Down

The Crew of 54-0146

“The next thing I saw was a big ball of black smoke way above the trees and I heard the explosion.”

“There’s been an accident” 19

Flying “The Chain” Frigid temperatures, howling winds, snow, ice, and low visibility were standard conditions. 32

The Diffenbaugh Project — Flying the Hump “One Last Time” Part 2 “Suddenly, with a deafening silence, the engine quit!” 36

AC-47D vs MiGs “Spooky 01 there are two MiGs headed your way and you are it.” 48

Searching for a Friend “I knew it was impossible for me to hide so I stood up, hands over my head, and surrendered.” 52

Greetings Foundation Members A note from David Tillotson III, Director of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force™


Bomber Heritage of the ICBM Force “In those days, it wasn’t a matter of there being a bomber way and a missile way of doing things – there was just a ‘SAC way.’”







Editor’s Notes

Classic Aircraft of the NMUSAF


From the Chief Development Officer








75 AY



JUNE 6, 2019 • www.nationalmuseum.af.mil

















On JUNE 6, 2019, the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, activities at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force will include World War II living history re-enactors, a wreath laying ceremony in Memorial Park as well as a C-47 fly-over, WWII military vehicles and more. D-Day, also known as the Battle of Normandy, occurred on June 6, 1944. It began the Allied invasion of Europe, which liberated millions from the Nazis and ultimately ended the war in Europe. Be sure and watch the museum’s website at www.nationalmuseum.af.mil for more information as it becomes available on this most significant anniversary of World War II Commemoration.




he Cold War is loosely defined as the period from the beginnings of Soviet expansion after World War II (1946-7) to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. It marks a period of intense political rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union. However, it was primarily a war in name only - the two nations never engaged in large-scale military operations against each other. Instead it was characterized by propaganda campaigns, a technology race and proxy wars (where each country supported forces on opposing sides of a conflict in hopes of undermining the other’s power in a region without actually fighting each other).


There were some direct (though relatively small-scale) confrontations between the superpowers which occasionally cost U.S. military members their lives. One such incident with an exhibit in the Cold War Gallery is the July 1, 1960 shooting down of a U.S. RB-47 reconnaissance plane in international airspace by a Soviet MiG-19 with the loss of four crewmembers. Despite such incidents the threat of mutually assured destruction kept the Cold War from becoming a full-scale war between the United States and the Soviet Union.

David Tillotson III - Director Krista Strider - Deputy Director/Senior Curator

The U.S. Air Force played a key role in keeping the Cold War from heating up. At the sharp end of the stick, bomber and missile crews deterred the Soviets with the threat of mutually assured destruction. Interceptor crews stood watch 24-hours-a-day, ready to counter an attack on the United States. Radar and electronic intelligence personnel flew missions shrouded in secrecy or manned remote posts monitoring communications, troop movements and weapons development. In addition, there were thousands of personnel working in other roles. Some worked supporting the mission directly by, for example, maintaining the security of the air fields. Others supported the mission indirectly by taking care of the basic needs of the airmen and their families. All were important because you can’t have a sharp end if you don’t have a stick. Most of the stories in this issue are related to or occurred during the Cold War. For more on the U.S. Air Force and the Cold War, go to the website of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force — https://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil. Enjoy,

Alan Armitage aarmitage@afmuseum.com | 937.656.9622



Michael Imhoff - Executive Director Melinda Lawrence - Chief, Museum Store Operations Mary Bruggeman - Chief, Attractions Operations Christopher Adkins-Lamb - Chief Development Officer Chuck Edmonson - Marketing Director Gary Beisner - Facilities & Food Service Coordinator Membership Office: 1-877-258-3910 (toll free) or 937-656-9615


Friends Journal

Editor - Alan Armitage Creative Manager - Cheryl Prichard Edito rial Assistants - Joe King, Art Powell, Robert Pinizzotto Friends Journal Office: 937-656-9622

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the Friends Journal articles and Feedback letters are solely those of the authors in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of the Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc., the United States Air Force or any other entity or agency of the U.S. Government.

The Friends Journal is published quarterly by the Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc., a Section 501(c)(3) private, non-profit organization dedicated to the expansion and improvement of the National Museum of the U.S.Air ForceTM and to the preservation of the history of the United States Air Force. The Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc. is not part of the Department of Defense or any of its components and it has no government status. Printed in the USA. USPS Standard A rate postage paid at Dayton, OH. Subscription to the Friends Journal is included in the annual membership of the Friends of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

Delaware Public Archives

This pass allowed crash investigator Francis Stone access to the accident site in the Redden State Forest, Ellendale, Del. Stone was a civilian contractor working with the Air Force and Douglas Aircraft inspectors. The pass was donated to the Air Mobility Command Museum, Dover AFB, by his daughter, Betsy Stone Witt.

Cargomaster Down I by Jeff

Brown, editor Hangar Digest Air Mobility Command (AMC) Museum, Dover AFB, Delaware

n 1957, the U.S. Air Force introduced a plane that was (at the time) the largest transport aircraft in the world; the Douglas C-133 Cargomaster.

With a length of 157 feet, 6 inches, the Cargomaster was almost 27 feet longer than the military’s thenstandard workhorse, the Douglas C-124 Globemaster II. Powered by four Pratt and Whitney turboprop engines, the C-133 could hit a maximum speed of almost 400 mph and fly more than 4,000 miles without stopping. Air Force officials selected Dover Air Force Base (AFB), Delaware, and Travis AFB, California, as the East and West Coast homes for the giant aircraft, and reconfigured units at both bases to fly the planes and train their crews.

On April 13, 1958, one of those crews, flying C-133 tail number 54-0146, left Dover on a 90-minute training mission. Aboard the plane were Capt Raymond R. Bern, pilot; 1st Lt Herbert T. Palisch, copilot; and TSgts Marvin A. Aust and Edward L. McKinley Jr., flight engineers. Their flight ended tragically, only minutes after it began when the plane suddenly flipped over and dived into a pine forest just 26 miles from the Dover runway. This was the first crash involving a C-133.

The rear bulkhead of 54-0146 was the largest part of the aircraft to survive the crash. One theory for the accident was tied to cables running through the bulkhead wall, which might have frozen in flight, locking up the Cargomaster’s control surfaces.

This article was originally published in the July-September 2012 issue of Hangar Digest and is reproduced with permission. Winter 2019 • FRIENDS JOURNAL


A BIGGER, FASTER, MORE ADVANCED AIRCRAFT The C-133 came into being in the early 1950s when military planners decided the country needed a largecapacity vehicle for strategic airlift missions. The venerable C-124 was too small and too slow to carry outsized loads such as the newly developed intercontinental ballistic missiles, as well as other cargo needed at far-flung bases throughout the world. The Air Force contracted with the Douglas Aircraft Company in February 1953 to further develop what was called the Douglas Model DTS-1333, which in October was officially designated the C-133. The plane was completely different from the C-124. In addition to being pressurized — allowing a ceiling of more than 23,000 feet, above most bad weather — the new model had a truck-level cargo deck, rear instead of forward loading doors and a wing mounted above the fuselage, allowing an almost obstruction-free cargo area. Air Force officials decided to move the C-133 almost directly from the drawing board to the production line without any prototype aircraft being built and tested. Changes to the design made during construction were implemented during the building process or after the planes were delivered. Eventually, Douglas built 50 of the aircraft: 32 C-133As and 18 C-133Bs. The company kept one of each for load testing research. The main difference between the two was the installation of a ramp and larger rear doors on the B models to replace the clamshell doors on the A version. The first C-133 took to the air April 23, 1956, and was subjected to more than a year of tests that revealed several problems, most notable being the plane’s tendency to stall. Stalls occur when aircraft experience a sudden loss of lift, resulting in an abrupt drop in altitude. Tests showed in most cases a stall in the Cargomaster caused the right wing to drop and the nose to swing to the left. Although they received almost no warning a stall was about to occur, crews found they could recover either by nosing the aircraft down, increasing power or both. However, if action wasn’t taken quickly, the rudder could lock, causing loss of control. Exactly why the aircraft tended to stall was not completely understood and thus there was no immediate



fix to the problem. Instead, recommendations to combat stalls included a warning system to keep pilots out of an unintentional stall and a prohibition against intentional stalls. At Dover, the Cargomaster would be assigned to the 39th Air Transport Squadron (Medium) (ATS) under the 1607th Air Transport Wing (ATW), which itself was part of the Atlantic Division, a subordinate unit of the Military Air Transport Service (MATS). At the time the 39th was flying the Douglas C-54 Skymaster. The Skymasters were reassigned, along with almost all of the 39th’s personnel and other assets. The 39th eventually was re-staffed with an influx of officers and enlisted personnel who had received extensive training on the C-133. Many were veterans of the 1700th Test Squadron at Kelly AFB, Texas, which had been formed specifically to evaluate the turboprop engines used in the Cargomaster and other aircraft. TOUCHDOWN AT DOVER On Aug. 28, 1957, Dover’s first Cargomaster, tail number 54-0143, arrived. On Sept. 8, the 39th ATS officially made the transition from a medium transport squadron to a C-133 unit when it was redesignated the 39th Air Transport Squadron (Heavy). Over the next two months, as more aircraft arrived, the 39th ATS worked hard to get in as many flying hours as possible to bring air crews up to speed on the C-133. The fourth and final Cargomaster delivered in 1957 arrived on Nov. 2. This aircraft carried tail number 54-1046. AN ORDINARY AIRPLANE In general, aircraft 54-1046 was a typical example of the C-133. It was accepted by the Air Force on Oct. 31, 1957, and flown to Dover two days later. It served at Dover from Nov. 2, 1957, until it was lost April 13, 1958. The July-December 1957 edition of the 1607th ATW’s official history notes that just over a month after its arrival, on Dec. 5, 1957, aircraft 54-1046 was sent to Denver, Colorado, for four days as part of a missile loading demonstration and exercise. This trip helped confirm the tasking of the Cargomaster for what became its bestknown assignment, that of moving intercontinental ballistic missiles from one station to another.

One month later, 54-1046 served as the lead plane in off the effects of a late evening at the Officers’ or Enlisted a history-making double header that saw the aircraft Club. and its twin, tail number 54It was Sunday, a day of rest, a 0144, make the Cargomaster’s relaxing day off. first trans-Atlantic flight. Each aircraft carried approximately This was not the case for 20 tons of priority cargo C-133 flight engineers Aust on a 3,890-mile flight to and McKinley. By 6 a.m., they Chateauroux Air Depot, France. were already on base, preparing Aircraft 54-1046 made the trip for the day’s mission. A routine in 10 hours and 21 minutes and training sortie was planned both reached speeds in excess of over the Delmarva Peninsula 450 mph, flying at more than to give crews assigned to 20,000 feet altitude for much of Dover’s new Cargomaster fleet AMC Museum the mission. It was the first time greater experience aboard the a transport aircraft had been able giant aircraft. The flight was This grainy image from the Orly Oracle newspaper, to make the cross-ocean trip in a Orly AB, France, of Jan. 17, 1958, is one of the few verified scheduled to last no more than single hop, without the need for photos of 54-0146. 90 minutes. stopping at intermediate bases along the way, thus eliminating one of the shortcomings By 7 a.m., half an hour after the sun lifted over the of the C-124. Dover flight line, Aust and McKinley already had met Bern and Palisch for a preflight briefing and were on the It was a memorable mission for Airman 1st Class Gary L. ramp, well into their Cargomaster’s preflight inspection Bartlemus, who flew the Chateauroux mission aboard checklist. They divided their responsibilities, one man 54-1046. going over the internal systems of the plane, the other examining the exterior. “I had gone there on the C-124 before that, and it was like comparing a Volkswagen to a Jaguar,” recalled the former loadmaster. “We went directly there instead of stopping three times on the way for fuel,” he said. “Instead of logging 20 hours in the air, you logged 10. It just seemed unbelievable.” Bartlemus stayed with the crew as the C-133 flew to other bases in France, Germany and Spain to give Air Force personnel in Europe a first look at the newest addition to the fleet. When the tour was over, Bartlemus said, the 133 returned to Dover via an overnight stop at Lajes Air Base in the Azores. THE LAUNCH Because April 13, 1958, was a Sunday, there was very little going on as the sun rose over Dover AFB. Construction activity at the nearly complete base hospital and the housing area rising from the fields west of the base was stilled for the weekend. Airmen not directly concerned with vital base activities were home, perhaps having enjoyed an episode of “Gunsmoke” the night before or maybe sleeping

As the engineers worked out on the flight line, Bern and Palisch were in base operations for their mission briefing. Palisch, the less experienced of the two officers, had just over 60 hours in the Cargomaster. By comparison, Bern, a senior pilot, had flown the C-133 for more than 585 hours. Bern was considered one of the best pilots at Dover, with almost 8,400 hours experience in the air dating back to World War II and his training as an enlisted B-17 gunner. After arriving at the aircraft and completing his own checklist with Palisch, Bern started the four T-34 turboprop engines and taxied away from the hardstand. Finally, the mission began with a 120-mph trip down Dover’s Runway 32 and a climb into the air on a heading that would quickly put the giant Cargomaster over Delaware’s rural Sussex County. The crew of 54-0146 did not make it home that day. A routine mission that was to last an hour-and-a-half ended abruptly just 15 minutes after the Cargomaster left the runway. Exactly what happened is not completely understood to this day. ☛



THE ACCIDENT According to the initial accident report, the C-133 lifted off at 8:28 a.m., carrying 50,000 pounds of fuel, enough for a six-hour mission. The temperature at Dover AFB was 52 degrees, with an unlimited ceiling and good visibility. Winds were blowing at about 20 to 25 mph, slightly higher than normal for a spring morning in Delaware.

Things were not routine that Sunday morning. “I was getting ready for church and we heard this noise,” said Ted Walius, who was 12 years old at the time. “It was really loud and it was almost like a whining sound. I knew it was an aircraft. We went outside but didn’t see anything. We didn’t hear an explosion, just that whining.”

Although Bern would have received departure information from the base control tower as he was preparing for launch, there was no radio contact between the tower and the airplane during the flight.

James Rust, then 18 years old, was awakened by his father and some friends talking excitedly outside his Redden, Delaware, home. “I heard one of them say, ‘that plane is going down,’” Rust recalled. “I ran outside, but by that time the plane was gone.” Sighting in on a rising plume of smoke, Rust and the others jumped into a station wagon, arriving shortly afterward at the scene, about two miles from Rust’s home.

The flight facility at Andrews AFB, Maryland, made routine contact with the aircraft at 8:34 a.m., six minutes after it left Dover, followed by a second contact at 8:40. Then, nothing.

“There was a lot of fire, and it looked like it had cratered into the ground,” Rust said. “At first, we thought maybe we could help someone, but realized after seeing it that we couldn’t.”

Around the small town of Ellendale and the Sussex County seat of Georgetown, people were used to military aircraft flying overhead. Both towns were under the approach to Dover AFB, and the sight of a C-124 or the new C-133 droning by was almost routine.

Rust and the others reported noises sounding like seven or eight pistol shots coming from the burning wreck. At first newspaper reports said the sounds were the result of burning ammunition, but as the plane carried no weapons, firemen later attributed the noises to exploding

Delaware Public Archives



Delaware Public Archives

tanks containing the crew’s emergency oxygen supply. At approximately 8:43 a.m. 54-1046 had smashed into the ground, landing upside down in the heavily wooded Ellendale State Forest, between Ellendale and Georgetown. Because it did not cut a swath through the thick growth of yellow pines, initial reports concluded the Cargomaster pancaked in. Witnesses said the craft exploded approximately 30 seconds later, the 25 tons of JP-4 fuel immediately igniting the trees and turning the remote pine forest into a maelstrom of flame. An Ellendale fireman who saw the plane fall to earth sounded the town fire alarm, bringing its fire company to the scene with firefighting equipment and an ambulance. More than 100 firemen from as far south as Salisbury, Maryland, soon joined the firefighting effort. Later they were joined by Air Force firefighters, ambulances, and wreckers, as well as Air Police who worked to keep back curious crowds. Firemen fought the stubborn, fuel-fed fire for more than two hours before bringing the blaze under control, taking an additional four hours to completely extinguish

the fire. Workers cut down nearby trees to construct a small road into the site and as night fell, set up strings of searchlights around the perimeter. Air Police put up a 24-hour guard at the site. A call went out via the local media for anyone who might have witnessed the accident to come forward and talk to investigators. Scores of people said they had witnessed the plane’s last moments, giving sometimes contradictory reports of what they saw. Many said the C-133 was circling the area about 2,000 feet above the forest and descending slowly when the engine sounds suddenly increased as if Bern were trying to gain altitude. After several seconds, the Cargomaster rolled over and dropped from the sky. Some said they saw flames before the craft fell, while others thought something might have dropped from the ship before it went down. At the time, Air Force investigators were not able to confirm those accounts. Delaware Chief Forest Ranger Oscar D. Bailey could tell the plane was in trouble when he spotted it from the yard of his home. Even when interviewed at the age of 103, Bailey’s memories of the last few seconds of 541046’s flight still were vivid. “It was flying south, counter clockwise, and as I watched the plane it was beginning to circle to the left. ☛



I wondered why it was circling at that time in the morning.” Completing the circle, the 133 headed back north, Bailey said. That’s when it happened. “The first thing I noticed was the left wing dropped down about five degrees,” he said. “It moved a little further and the nose dropped down a little bit and then come back up level. It was still headed north. All this happened quick. Then the left wing made another dip. As soon as it did that the nose went down and when it did it didn’t come back up. It started to roll to the left. As it rolled over, the wingtip kept going down. It was a quarter of the way in the roll and I knew it would never come out because with a plane that big, with the position it was in, that roll would have turned into a dive. “It turned over, completely over and went straight down.” Even as the 133 entered its final moments, the propellers on the four engines continued to turn normally, Bailey said, and he saw no smoke or flame as the plane went down. Watching the disaster unfold, Bailey knew the crew had only seconds to live. Moments after the plane disappeared over the tree line, the noise from the engines stopped suddenly. “The next thing I saw was a big ball of black smoke way above the trees and I heard the explosion,” he said. After telling his wife about the emergency, Bailey jumped into his pickup and was one of the first on the scene.



“The left wing had exploded and blew that fuel all through the trees,” he said. “The tail was upside down and I believe that if any crewmember had been in the end of the tail, he’d have survived. It wasn’t burned or nothing.” Initially, an Air Force spokesman said the front part of the plane, where the crew would have been seated, was partially intact, raising hopes someone might have survived the impact. However, volunteer crews searched the thickly wooded area in vain. The bodies of the four crewmen were recovered the day after the crash. News accounts said one of the Cargomaster’s wings still was attached to the fuselage, but the other was found approximately a block away. The plane’s four engines had been torn from their mounts and lay scattered throughout the crash site. Three of the four propellers were recovered two days after the crash. The most recognizable piece of the plane was the aft bulkhead, situated under the vertical stabilizer. Because the Cargomaster had come down in a state forest, an area that was under his jurisdiction, Bailey remained at the site as workers searched for clues and then cleaned up the area. All told, the investigators were at the site for the next two weeks, he said. When they left, pieces of heavy construction equipment were brought in to cover up the area and to keep wild animals away from possible unrecovered human remains.

Delaware Public Archives

THE INVESTIGATION The destruction of the Air Force’s newest and largest transport plane and the loss of four popular crewmen stunned the population of Dover AFB. Many went to the site to see if they could help. Bartlemus arrived at the scene at about the same time firefighters extinguished the last of the fire. “I went out to the crash site and it was just total destruction,” he recalled. “The engines were buried 10 feet into the ground, and the only thing really left was the tail. It had just burned and burned and burned.” Bartlemus also realized he could have suffered the same fate as Bern’s crew. “I was originally set up to be on that flight,” he said. “We were supposed to go to Memphis and pick up some stuff and bring it back. But the plane had just come out of maintenance and it needed a check ride.” Although he and another crew had been alerted for the Memphis mission, doing the check ride and flying to Tennessee would have violated crew rest rules, Bartlemus said. “So they de-alerted us and called Capt Bern and his crew,” he said. “I stood there [at the crash site] and I thought, ‘I was supposed to be on that plane,’” Bartlemus said. “It was a shock to the entire base,” retired flight engineer Edward “Sandy” Sandstrom said. “We had a new airplane, new technology. But the airplane fell out of the sky and no one knew why. It was such a total shock that we’d lost an aircrew. You can’t imagine that kind of feeling.”

Firefighters gather at the crash site of C-133 54-0146 after the plane went down April 13, 1958, in a forest south of Ellendale, Delaware. One of the Cargomaster’s wings is visible at the center of the photo. Fed by 25 tons of fuel, the fire burned for six hours.

“When it crashed, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we just worked on that plane,’” former propeller mechanic Roger E. Greene, now of Eatontown, N.J., said. “Everything had looked good. We couldn’t find anything that we’d done wrong. We sat there and talked it all over, but there was nothing we could find.” Greene said Air Force investigators combed through the C-133’s maintenance records and his supervisor questioned him about work done on the plane. “He asked if we’d found anything wrong and I said no, everything was good.” Greene acknowledged the C-133s had their share of mechanical troubles, particularly with the propellers. Because of their work, however, he and others felt a personal responsibility toward each aircraft. “We looked at every airplane as our own,” he said. “We took excellent care of them. If we found something wrong, we turned it in to the crew and to the people who ran maintenance. We loved those planes, they were great.” The formal crash inquiry began almost immediately with the convening of an investigation board made up of officers from the 1607th ATW and the Atlantic Division of MATS. All C-133s were ordered back to Dover and all cargo carrying trips were cancelled pending the investigation. The anxiety over the crash was heightened just 16 days later when the elevator on another C-133 locked up while the plane was landing at Dover. The crew physically forced the elevator to operate properly, and the plane landed without further incident. Following this near-miss, MATS grounded all C-133s for ☛



the next three weeks. All Cargomasters eventually were sent to the Douglas factory for modifications. Most theories about the accident centered on the C-133’s stall tendencies, which during initial flight testing indicated uneven airflow over the horizontal stabilizers made the elevators useless. A fix was ordered to the eighth aircraft and retrofitted onto all previously built Cargomasters. But the dilemma was only more mysterious because 54-0146 already had received the modifications when it crashed. The results of the investigation into the crash of 54-0146 have never been released to the public. The Report of AF Aircraft Accident lists only basic airplane and crew information as well as what was known of events leading up to the crash. The conclusions of the investigation board still are considered sensitive material. Col (then Maj) Charles J. Gutekunst served as the maintenance officer for the investigation; he flew over the crash site while the aircraft was still burning. Another veteran of the 1700th Test Squadron, he considered Bern a good friend. “The accident report did not give the exact cause of the accident, but about six months later, we found what convinced most of the C-133 pilots and maintenance folks what was the answer,” he said. Asked by fellow 39th ATS pilot Maj George Frum to take a look at a C-133 for a pending flight, Gutekunst tried unsuccessfully to move the plane’s elevators. They followed the cables back to the rear pressure bulkhead where they attached to a rod that went through a tube and then connected to other cables. “I said I’d be damned, but they looked like they were frozen,” Gutekunst said. “We went into the tail cone and found it was all wet in there from rain the night before.” Knowing that it rained the night before Bern’s mission and that his flight plan had taken him up to altitudes where temperatures were well below freezing, Gutekunst theorized the rod on 54-0146 might have frozen, locking up the elevators and causing the stall and inverted roll Bailey and others witnessed. Gutekunst made a trip to the base salvage area where the pressure bulkhead from 54-0146 was awaiting the scrap yard and had the same section cut



out. He then made a trip to the base meat locker. “We soaked the rod and started moving it back and forth,” he said. “The third time it went through, it froze solid.” He called some Douglas engineers who immediately recognized the problem. Gutekunst then informed the wing commander who grounded Dover’s Cargomasters until the engineers came up with a fix. The repair was unbelievably simple: maintenance crews simply cut a one-inch hole in the bulkhead and removed the tube. Whether this modification could have prevented the loss of 54-0146 will never be known. “I believe what we found was the answer,” Gutekunst said. “It wasn’t scientific, but it worked.” The crash and its aftermath also revealed a number of problems at Dover AFB itself. There was a shortage of crash rescue equipment and the portable metal cutting saws used in rescue operations proved worthless when used against the C-133’s pressurized hull. Requisitions were made for portable oxygen acetylene equipment and a truck to carry extra gear. A 30-ton crane also was requested as were vehicles that could be used if there was an aircraft accident in some of the swampy areas around the base. Communications also proved to be a problem, as shown by workers having to depend on the local Civil Air Patrol to relay messages between the crash site and the base. The loss of 54-0146 was not the first time a Dover plane was involved in a fatal accident and it was not the last. But it was particularly noteworthy because four highly skilled and well-liked airmen died and because the C-133 was considered the largest and most advanced transport aircraft of its time. The base recovered and C-133s continued to fly from Dover for another 13 years.

Author Jeff Brown and his four siblings grew up in an Air Force family. Jeff joined the Air Force himself in 1972 and spent half of his 22-year career overseas. He retired in 1994 as a master sergeant personnel superintendent. A graduate of Wesley College, Dover, Jeff now works as a reporter at the Dover Post newspaper. In addition to his editorship of the Hangar Digest newsletter, he serves on the Air Mobility Museum Foundation’s board of directors. He and his wife, Renate have two grown children and three grandchildren.They live in Hartly, Delaware.

The Crew of 54-0146 “There’s been an accident.” With a base chaplain at his side, Lt Col John K. Thompson would have delivered those words at four Doverarea homes the afternoon of April 13, 1958. As commander of the 39th Air Transport Squadron at Dover Air Force Base (AFB), Delaware, he could only verify the news of the crash that had suddenly turned four Air Force wives into widows. He did not know why their husbands’ Douglas C-133 Cargomaster suddenly dropped from the sky. All he could do that day was try to answer tearful, perhaps desperate questions, reassure the women there would be an investigation, and promise the Air Force would do everything possible to help. More than 500 mourners attended a funeral and memorial service for the entire crew at the Dover AFB chapel three days later. It was the largest religious service held up to that time at the base. Capt Raymond R. Bern, 1st Lt Herbert T. Palisch, Tech Sgt Marvin A. Aust and Tech Sgt Edward L. McKinley Jr, are remembered by their families and friends they served with at Dover.

Bern Family

RAY BERN Capt Raymond Ray Bern was a tinkerer. “My mom said he loved putting things together,” said Bern’s daughter, Vickie Bern Guion, who was four years old when her father died. “We could never eat on the dining room table because he was always working on engines and motors.”

“He built his own model airplanes and flew them in shows and won many trophies with them,” added Guion’s sister, Nancy Bern Edwards, who was nine years old at the time of the accident. “He even made us some skirts on a sewing machine,” Edwards added. “We picked out what we wanted ironed on and he’d do it. That was very unusual for a man back in those days.” Ray Bern was born March 21, 1921, on an Iowa farm, but his family moved to California in 1938. He enlisted in the U.S. Army as an aviation cadet and was commissioned on Feb. 1, 1945. Bern married Eloise Hollis on April 19, 1947. Assignments in Japan, Massachusetts, and Hawaii followed, as well as a tour with the 1700th Test Squadron at Kelly AFB, Texas, which formed the nucleus of what became C-133 operations at Dover AFB, Delaware. Col (then Maj) Charles J. Gutekunst remembers Bern as a quiet man who “didn’t horse around very much.

He wasn’t the kind of guy who would get into any kind of trouble,” he said. “He went by the rules. I think he probably never got so much as a parking ticket.” Although he was the epitome of professionalism in the cockpit, to his daughters Bern simply was a kind, generous, and loving man who carried silver dollars for good luck, loved black licorice jelly beans, going on picnics, eating ice cream at Howard Johnson’s and wearing loud Hawaiian shirts. His daughters loved to play tricks on him, such as grabbing their father’s slippers from his feet while he was napping and hiding them. “He’d chase us through the house looking for them,” Guion said. The family had been in Dover less than a year when Bern’s plane went down. “Two men came up in the car outside our house,” Guion said. “I remember my mom just burst out crying; she knew even before they got to the door. I remember one of my Dad’s house shoes was under my sister’s bed, and I ran to it and got it, thinking, ‘Oh, he never got to find this.’” Mrs. Bern and her daughters returned to familiar surroundings in San Antonio, where they had lived before his assignment to Dover. Mrs. Bern never remarried. “She said no one could equal my dad, so why try,” Edwards said. “She just loved him so much, that she never dated after that,” Guion said. “She said, ‘I don’t want anyone telling me how to raise his children. I know how he wanted his children raised and so the three of us will do it on our own.’ And she did.” ☛ Winter 2019 • FRIENDS JOURNAL


TED PALISCH At just 25 years of age, 1st Lt Herbert Theodore “Ted” Palisch was the junior member of the crew, but was far from inexperienced. By October 1957, Palisch was already an experienced Douglas C-124 Globemaster II AMC Museum pilot, experienced enough to be assigned the copilot’s seat in the brand new C-133. With more training and experience – he already had accumulated 1,500 flying hours – a senior pilot’s rating and the title of aircraft commander would be his.

‘What could I have said to him?’ but of course nothing would have made a difference.” Mrs. Lambert remained in Dover for a while but eventually moved to Philadelphia. Later, McCartney introduced her to 1st Lt (later Col) Luther Lambert, who, even though he had been to at least one party at the Palisch home, had never noticed her before. A courtship followed, and the pair were married at the Dover AFB chapel. “We started going out, and it was good,” Mrs. Lambert said. “He got along with my family, and it all worked out.”

MARVIN AUST Like Capt Ray Bern, Tech Sgt Marvin Adair Aust was a Born June 1, 1932, in Missouri, Palisch was Midwest farmer’s son, born commissioned through an Army ROTC May 31, 1928, in Hays, Kansas. program in college, where he earned a degree Aust attended high school in in chemical engineering. But a career as a Hays and played center on scientist was not in his future. “He loved flying,” the school’s football team, said recalled Palisch’s widow, Hilda “Scottie” Palisch his sister, Doris Groff. Despite Lambert. “There could be nothing else for him. Aust Family his schedule, he was expected to He had an engineering degree but didn’t want to complete all his schoolwork as well pursue that. He loved the Air Force.” as his farm chores, particularly after a heart Palisch earned his second lieutenant’s bar upon graduation attack took his father’s life. “He definitely was raised on June 9, 1954, and thereafter set out for pilot training. on the farm and worked it with our father,” said Aust’s He and Scottie, college sweethearts, were married in younger brother, Edgar. “I was born in September 1944, December. Mrs. Lambert followed her husband to bases and my father had died about a month before I was born. in Texas and Florida as he went through his flying My brother basically took over trying to run the farm instruction. Palisch earned his wings on April 12, 1956, with my mother. and was assigned to fly C-124s out of Dover. “At some point, however, he decided he didn’t want At Dover, Palisch had a friendly rivalry with 1st Lt to be a farmer and that’s when he decided to join the Robert “Bob” McCartney. The pair flew together Air Force.” Aust enlisted in March 1949 and went occasionally, both looking to get in as many flying hours into aircraft maintenance, aiming to become a flight as possible. For McCartney, his affable competition engineer. In September 1953, while assigned to the with Palisch might have saved his life. “That day I was 374th Troop Carrier Wing at Tachikawa Air Base(AB), supposed to go out and fly a local training mission,” he Japan, Aust was part of a handpicked C-124 crew that said. “I got out there in my flight suit and everything, transported a Soviet MiG-15 on its way to the United but Ted already was at the plane. They were getting States. An official Air Force photo shows Aust and ready to crank engines and take off, and so he bumped another crewman, both decked out in leather flying me off that flight.” jackets, reading about their flight in a local paper. To his family, it was apparent Aust loved what he was doing. Mrs. Lambert said the morning of April 13, 1958, started “He was really into it,” Edgar Aust recalled. “He’d out normally enough. She drove her husband out to the bring home things I’d never seen before. He enjoyed the base and then returned home. She was reading the paper travel, the people, and the flying.” when an Air Force staff car appeared in front of her home. “A couple of guys in uniform came to the door, Aust’s career eventually took him to Dover AFB, and I thought, ‘This is bad,’” she said. Receiving the where he settled in as a flight engineer in the 39th Air news “was just terrible,” Mrs. Lambert said. “You think, Transport Squadron. He also married while at Dover;



his wife, Betty Lou, gave him a stepdaughter, Debra Jo, and eventually a son, Mark, who was born seven months before his father’s death. Because the Aust’s Kansas home was so remote, when he was killed there were no Air Force officials on hand to deliver the news. Instead, the town fire and police chiefs notified the family. “My mother was devastated,” Mrs. Groff said. “She’d lost her husband and then her eldest son. It was almost too much.” “I guess the biggest thing that hit us was that he’d just gotten married, had a child and was starting his family life,” Edgar Aust said. “All of that had been taken away. I guess my biggest concern is that I never got to say goodbye.” Betty Lou Aust eventually remarried, but her former in-laws lost touch with her and their nephew. Despite the tragedy, both Mr. Aust and Mrs. Groff know their brother loved the life he had chosen. “He was very happy, outgoing and liked people,” Mr. Aust said. “I think he really enjoyed being in the Air Force and he didn’t have any regrets.”

McKinley Family

ED MCKINLEY Like most Air Force flight engineers, Tech Sgt Edward Lowry McKinley Jr. was no stranger to life as an aircrew member. McKinley was born Sept. 28, 1924, in Meridian, Mississippi. He graduated from Meridian High School and for a time had worked for Sears, Roebuck, and Co.

McKinley enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces a year after the Pearl Harbor attack and was called to active duty in April 1943. During World War II, he flew combat cargo missions out of Papua, New Guinea. He left the military after the war but was recalled during the Korean War and sent to Ashiya Air Base, Japan. McKinley received a commendation ribbon, the forerunner of today’s Air Force Commendation Medal for his work at an occupied North Korean airfield, where he worked on the planes that delivered vital supplies to soldiers and Marines at the Chosin Reservoir. Writing to his grandmother, Isabelle McKinley, in March 1951, McKinley asked her to look in on his wife, Connie, and two-year-old daughter, Faye. “I know they get awfully lonely in that big house all by themselves,

and just a little company will help their morale a lot,” he wrote. Faye McKinley Siano was nine years old when her father was killed, but she has some very special memories of the time they spent together. “He would always bring me back something, even if it was just those nasty K-rations,” she said. “But I’d eat them anyhow. He’d also bring me dolls, and I had hundreds of them.” McKinley loved to spoil his only child, but also was very strict. While Faye was expected to answer the phone in a military style, her father also showed his softer side by taking her out to buy new dresses and the latest hits from Elvis Presley. “Elvis was really big,” she recalled. “My dad and I bought all his records and we went to see all his movies together. He’d splurge on me, and get in trouble with my mother because of it.” Faye and her mother dropped her father off at Dover AFB the morning of April 13, and she then went to Sunday school. On the way home from church, her mother had a premonition something was very wrong. After her father’s death, Faye and Mrs. McKinley returned to Meridian and moved in with her grandparents. Mrs. McKinley, who never remarried, died in July 1986 and was buried next to her husband. Now retired, Faye went on to a career in radio, writing copy and playing records as well as writing and producing commercials and doing voiceover work. The families of the four crewmen received letters of condolence and support from Brig. Gen. Francis C. Gideon, commander of the 1607th Air Transport Wing at Dover AFB and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Thomas D. White. Some of the wives stayed connected to the Air Force, while others returned to communities where the sight of a military uniform was the exception rather than the rule. In all, the men left behind five children, all of whom had to grow up without their fathers, perhaps missing a bit of what would have been a normal childhood. They were sometimes asked to mature a little faster and take on adult responsibilities a little sooner than they would have otherwise. “It really hurts to lose your dad, and at such a young age,” Faye Siano said. “It really leaves a hole in your life.”



Tickets are o n

Golden Globe WINNER


Best Motion Picture, Drama, and Best Actor, Drama



person 4th Sunday of each month at 4 p.m.

Sunday, Feb 24th

Sunday, March 24th

Sunday, April 28th

Sunday, May 26th

Sunday, June 23rd

Sunday, July 28th

Sunday, Aug 25th

Sunday, Sept 22nd

Sunday, Oct 27th

Sunday, Nov 24th

Sunday, Dec 22nd

Order your tickets today!

afmuseum.com/attractions/upcoming-events | 937-253-4629

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.