I was transfered to Dyess in Jan 1966 as an E-4(A1C). I was being crossed trained from Weapons Control systems on F4c (they over manned the career field) to autopilots and compass systems.
There were 5 of us who came together to Dyess. The AF said we had all the electronics training we needed from our old career field and said we could learn to work on autopilots and compasses through on-the-job- training.
After all these years (46+) some of my memories may be a little off about the crash but I will tell you of my memories as best I can remember.
I was living in the barracks on base when the crash occurred (October 12, 1966, a Saturday). I have no idea what time someone came banging on my door.
I remember it was daylight and very cold.
Whoever came to my door said that a C130 had crashed and they needed someone from the Autopilot shop to go to the crash site immediately to help find all the autopilot components in the wreckage. They needed the components so they could be examined in figuring out why the aircraft crashed.
I guess it would be better to relate what I ultimately understood about the crash. This understanding is NOT from reading any offical report but what was told me by other individuals.
Three C130s were flying in formation (one behingd the other) at an altitude of 1000 feet. These were just routine low-level night training missions.
The normal crew of pilot, co-pilot, navigator, flight engineer, and load master. As I heard the story the additional young LM had asked to go along and was allowed to go.
The co-pilot left the cockpit to go use the urinal. This is a normal routine occurrance.
At some point the pilot had a heart attack and died. Apparently he did not slup over the control colum and cause the plane to go in a sharp dive(like in the movies).
These training flights were normally 4 hours long. The pilot would normally trim the control surfaces so the plane reqiured little correction to fly straight and level; even with the autopilot off.
The plane slowly started loosing altitude. Since it was gradual noone was alerted that something was wrong.
The plane descended to the point that the 4 turbo props started mowing half circles in the tops of mesquite trees.
The plane finally touched the ground and was skidding along mowing down the trees.
At some point one of the wings dipped down and caught the ground.
When that happen the complete engine left the wing and continued for some ways cutting half circles in the mesquite trees.
At the same time the plane spun around and started sliding backwards.
At some time the fuel tank in the wing ruptured and fuel started spilling into the forward portion of the plane and caught on fire.
I think a certain amount of the above is based upon speculation because of the burnered condition of the bodies.
Now, what I actually saw supports my understanding of what happened.
I was driven to the highway location closes to the crash by the person who was different from the person who came and got me.
I can't remember if there were other people with us.
The first thing I saw on the side of the highway were a bunch of APs and military vehicles.
I couldn't see any evidence of a crash through the thick grove of mesquite trees.
The AP's had used one of there 4 door trucks to blaze a path to the wreck and shuttle people back and forth between the hiway and the site.
Getting into the truck I noticed that the mirrors and door handles had been torn off and the entire length of the sides were pretty much void of paint.
An indication of how thick the trees were.
When we got to the site the fires were out and there were several people looking around at things and taking pictures. There were no bodies. They were already gone.
On the short ride to the site the driver told us to be on the lookout for rattlesnakes, even though it was cold. It seems that the fire had brought the snakes out of hibernation.
The first APs to get there and blaze the trail to the site had shot a lot of them.
Here's what I saw
Standing near the nose of the plane(or where the nose would normally be) and looking back toward where the plane had come from I could see where it had skided.
Beyond that I could see where the props had cut arcs in the trees. It appeared that the plane had moved up and down some likie it had skipped some trees.
Looking over to the side I could see where the wing tip had hit the ground and moving over to get in line I could see where the engine flew threw the trees by itself anf the arc trail in the trees.
Standing at the nose again and looking toward the tail of the plane I saw that between me and where the leading edge of the wings there was basically nothing higher than my knees. It appeared that the focus of the fire had been on the cockpit.
I walked around the pile to an area behind the main wing and mid line of the plane. From there looking toward the tail it looked like any other C130 I had ever been on; like nothing had happened except the tail end was down on the ground.
It was while I was standing there that I looked down and saw a combat boot. It was still laced up and tied. From the bottom eyelets to the toe was totally gone almost like it was cut off with and axe. But the edge had a little bit of singing all the way around. The rest of the boot was still shiney from a spit shine..
All the equipment I was looking for was located either in the cockpit between the pilot and copilot at sitting down thigh level. The other equipment was usually located in equipment racks about 3-4 feet under the cockpit and behind the nose wheel wheel.
The cockpit component was in a pile of rumble about mid shin high and I almost didn't recognize it with all the plactic burent off it.
Of the components under the cockpit I found one still bolted to it's rack but its portion of the rack had been ripped out and was probably 50-75 feet way.
Another, about the size of a medium sized microwave full of electronics I found in two pieces like a giant pair of hands had pulled it apart like tearing a loaf of french bread in to.
The portion that bolted it to its rack was still secure but the rack was out in the trees.
It seems like I spent a few hours there before the officer released me to go back to the base.
I had heard that the kid that made it was in real bad shape and that they had sent him to the big hospital in San Antonio.
Until today I had never know any of their names.
Seems to me that an offical incident report should still exists and that anyone interested should be able to get a copy under the Freedom of Information act.
I hope I've provided someone with a piece of info they wanted to know and not come off as just the ramblings of an old man.
TSgt USAF Nov' 63 - Sep '74