LIEUTENANT KILLED IN LAFB JET PLANE CRASH June 28, 1957
First Lieutenant Ford E. Lowcock, 28, was killed in the crash of a jet aircraft from Laughlin Air Force Base at approximately 8:45 a.m. Friday west of the city.
Lt. Lowcock, the pilot, was the sole occupant.
Cause of the crash had not been determined by Friday afternoon.
Survivors include the widow, Mrs. Patsy R. Lowcock, who resides at 1207 Avenue P with the two sons, Randall Lee, 6, and Ford Elson, four months.
Lt. Lowcock's parents, Mr. and Mrs. R. W. Lowcock, reside at Powersville, Missouri.
LHF Archives Source: Del Rio News-Herald Microfilm Archives Friday afternoon, June 28, 1957
SECOND LAFB JET AIRCRAFT IN CRASH AT ABILENE June 28, 1957
Officials at Laughlin AFB Saturday announced a second jet aircraft from Laughlin had crashed Friday, 10 miles north of Abilene, shortly before noon, killing the pilot, First Lt. Leo E. Smith, sole occupant of the plane.
Lt. Smith is survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Smith, who reside in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Cause of the crash, which totally demolished the plane, has not yet been determined.
Friday morning base officials announced that another jet aircraft had crashed near the Municipal airport in Del Rio, killing the pilot, First Lt. Ford E. Lowcock.
LHF Archives Source: Del Rio News-Herald Microfilm Archives Sunday morning, July 30, 1957
COLONEL BAILS OUT SAFELY September 26, 1957
A Laughlin Air Force Base pilot, Col. Jack Nole, escaped injury when he bailed out from his jet aircraft almost 25 miles northeast of Del Rio Thursday afternoon, an announcement from LAFB affirmed today.
The veteran pilot was picked up by helicopter minutes after he hit the ground. Parts of his crashed planed were scattered over a wide area.
The crash occurred at about 3 p.m. Thursday.
It was the first bailout for the veteran pilot, who recently was assigned to LAFB and who commands the 4028th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron at Laughlin. He is a native of Lovington, N.M. with 16 years military service.
LHF Archives Source: Del Rio News-Herald Microfilm Archives Friday afternoon, September 27, 1957
LAFB CAPTAIN DIES IN JET CRASH FRIDAY November 23, 1957
Captain Benedict A. Lacombe, 33, of Laughlin's 4028th Strategic Reconnaissance Weather Squadron, was killed Friday night at approximately 11:17 when his jet aircraft crashed 13 miles south-southeast of Laughlin on the Frerich Ranch.
Cause of the accident has not yet been determined, and a board of officers is investigating. Capt. Lacombe is survived by his widow, Rosemary, and son Bruce, 6, who live at 411 Ave C. in Del Rio. His mother, Mrs. Oltye Ola Lacombe, lives at 118 Regan Street, Pineville, Louisiana.
LHF Archives Source: Del Rio News-Herald Microfilm Archives Sunday morning, November 24, 1957
LAFB U2 IN FATAL ACCIDENT July 8, 1958
A Lockheed U2 jet weather reconnaissance plane based at Laughlin Air Force Base crashed at approximately 4:45 P.M. Tuesday west of Wayside, near Amarillo, Captain Lloyd Strot, Information Services Officer at LAFB, announced this morning.
The pilot of the craft, who was killed, was a Royal Air Force exchange student at Laughlin. His name is withheld pending notification of next of kin.
The plane was involved in a round robin high altitude flight over several southwestern states at the time of the accident, Captain Strot said.
Colonel Howard Shidal, wing director of operations and an aircraft investigation team left Laughlin in a C-54 to go to the scene of the crash to conduct an investigation on the cause of the accident. They left about midnight.
Texas Highway Patrolmen, first on the scene after the accident Tuesday afternoon, assisted the sheriff's departments of Randall, Swisher, and Armostrong Counties in identifying the plane's base, Captain Strot said, though identification was not determined until 7 p.m. Thursday.
A United Press International report from Wayside said the plane exploded in air and plummeted to earth. A.J. Zejda of Perryton, who saw the plane explode, said the pilot's body landed in its ejection seat 300 yards from the fuselage, the UPI report stated.
Zejda said he saw two puffs of smoke before he watched the plane explode. He said it also veered to the north on its westerly flight just before the smoke puffs.
LHF Archives Source: Del Rio News-Herald Microfilm Archives Wednesday afternoon, July 9, 1958
Captain A. V. Chapin Jr. Killed LAUGHLIN GROUNDS U-2s AFTER SECOND FATAL PLANE CRASH July 9, 1958
The Lockheed U-2 high altitude weather research airplane, two of which have crashed in the past 48 hours, are being grounded pending investigation into the accident causes. This is according to Brig. Gen. Austin J. Russell, Commander of the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Laughlin AFB, Del Rio, Texas.
Laughlin was the home base of two U-2s which crashed within 100 miles of each other in the Texas Panhandle and eastern New Mexico, one on Tuesday and the other Wednesday. The accidents were fatal to both pilots.
General Russell's statement grounding all U-2s of his wing said in part: Although the U-2 is a time tested airplane which has been in use by this wing for more than a year and by other government agencies for the part three years, flying suspended complete investigation of the two serious accidents. Pending investigation by experts on the scenes I have suspended U-2 flying.
Accident investigation teams from Laughlin are being joined at the wreckages by experts from the Air Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, the Air Force Office of Flying Safety, Office of the Inspector General at Norton AFB, Calif., Air Research and Development Command and industries which manufacture the aircraft and component parts.
The investigation is not a question of security, reiterates General Russell, rather that of fact-finding to determine the cause of the fatal accidents. The grounding order is merely a precautionary measure.
The General further reiterated that both pilots, Squadron Leader C. E. Walker, an exchange pilot from the British Royal Air Force who was killed Tuesday and Captain Alfred V. Chapin who was killed Wednesday were highly qualified jet pilots.
Squadron Leader Walker was one of Britain's top young jet pilots with hundreds of hours in the Canberra which was the forerunner of the USAF B-57 Reconnaissance airplane.
Captain Chapin was a veteran U-2 pilot who has been with the aircraft since the Laughlin AFB mission's inception early last year. He was decorated May 23 with the Distinguished Flying Cross for an outstanding job of bringing in a disabled U-2 last year.
Upon completion of investigation at the scenes, one about 30 miles SE of Amarillo, Tex., and the other 23 miles SW of Tucumcari, N.M., the teams, including the outside experts will join at Laughlin AFB to determine what future precautions can be taken.
Captain Chapin resided with his wife and small baby at 203 Dignowity Street in Del Rio. His home was in San Angelo and he had attended Sul Ross College. He sang in the choir of the First Methodist Church here and on May 23 he received the Distinguished Flying Cross from Major General Richard M. Montgomery, deputy commander of the Second Air Force.
His decoration was presented for successfully landing his aircraft after a power failure and loss of pressurization at high altitude Aug. 29, 1957. Although his circumstances were extreme and a bailout was possible, Chapin, a lieutenant at the time, continued to fly the craft to the successful landing. He served overseas in England prior to coming to LAFB.
Joint memorial services for Squadron Leader Walker and Captain Chapin will be held Friday at 4 p.m. in the Base Chapel with Chaplin Curtis Johnson officiating.
LHF Archives Source: Del Rio News-Herald Microfilm Archives Thursday afternoon, July 10, 1958
LAFB U-2 JET CRASHES August 6, 1958
First Lieutenant Paul J. Haugland, 27, was killed at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday when his U-2 jet aircraft, based at Laughlin Air Force Base, crashed and burned one mile north of the base, Information Services Officer, Captain Lloyd Strot reported.
The Lockheed-built U-2 was assigned to the 4028th Strategic Reconnaissance Squad at LAFB and was on a low altitude, local area proficiency training flight. Lt. Haugland was on his final approach for landing on a north-south base runway when the plane dropped to the ground and burned, Captain Strot said.
Officers at the scene were unable to give any reason for the crash pending completion of an investigation by a board of qualified officers, Captain Strot explained.
Lt.Haugland resided at 207 West Fifth Street with his wife, the former Barbara Ann Dorst, and their two sons, David, 4 and Chris, 2.
He had been stationed at Laughlin almost 2 ½ years.
Both the Lieutenant and his wife listed Superior, Wisconsin, as their home and the address there as 1104 Sixteenth Street.
Only Monday the flying suspension of U-2s was lifted by Brig. Gen. Austin J. Russell, commander of the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Laughlin after the planes had been grounded when two of them crashed within 24 hours of each other on July 8 and 9.
Pilots were killed in each crash. Squadron Leader C. E. Walker, and exchange pilot from England, and Captain Alfred V. Chapin were lost.
Wednesday's crash, however, was not the same nature as the two in July, both of which crashed from high altitudes and under circumstances that were similar. In both these the pilots apparently lost control of their planes while in normal flight at high altitude.
Lt. Haugland was making a normal approach and was in sight of the base, Capt. Strot reported. The plane did not spin in but crashed in a relatively flat altitude and burned. Crash crews reached the scene within minutes.
Captain Strot said the U-2 was not grounded following Wednesday's crash.
Memorial services for Lt. Haugland were to be held today at 4 p.m. in the chapel at Laughlin Air Force Base.
LHF Archives Source: Del Rio News-Herald Microfilm Archives Thursday afternoon, August 7, 1958
EMERGENCY LANDING MADE BY LAFB U-2 Damage is Light August 3, 1959
An Air Force high altitude weather reconnaissance U-2 plane based at Laughlin Air Force Base had minor damage to the fuselage in making an emergency landing at Cortez, Colorado, shortly before midnight. The pilot, Major H. C. Hua, was not injured.
Colonel A. J. Bratton, Jr., wing commander of the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at LAFB, reported the plane was on a five-hour round-robin night celestial training mission when it flamed out after reporting to the Delta, Utah, radio.
After four unsuccessful attempts to re-start the engine in flight, the pilot decided to land at the Montezuma County Airport at Cortez, Colorado, which is approximately 150 miles northwest of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Colonel Bratton, after a telephone conversation with Ray Johnson at Cortez, said normal flameout procedures call for the landing gear to be pulled down when the plane is circling near the airport.
In this case, the pilot pulled the gear up when he though more gliding distance was needed to reach the runway.
On the final approach, the pilot made an unsuccessful attempt to extent the gear, and the plane stopped 50 feet beyond the end of the runway with minor damage to the fuselage, Colonel Bratton announced.
An accident investigation team left Laughlin today at 5 a.m. in a C-54 piloted by Colonel Ellsworth Powell to determine the exact cause of the accident.
The team, headed by Major Julian P. Anderson, arrived at Cortez this morning at 9:20 a.m.
Shortly before noon Colonel Powell called Colonel Bratton and reported the damaged plane cannot be flown out. It will be dismantled and trucked from the site of the crash.
LHF Archives Source: Del Rio News-Herald Microfilm Archives Tuesday afternoon, August 4, 1959
MAJOR MYERS HAS INJURIES Friday, July 14, 1960
A Laughlin Air Force Base pilot parachuted to safety today as his U2 aircraft crashed in rugged hill country northwest of Uvalde.
The pilot, Major Raleigh B. J. Myers, 37, was returned to the base here by helicopter. He suffered compression fracture of the vetebrae, X-rays at the base showed but he was able to sit up in the ambulance which transferred him from the copter to the base hospital. He was reported in good condition in the base hospital shortly after 2 p.m.
The U2 took off from Laughlin AFB at 7:45 a.m. on a short training flight. First word of the crash was received at the base at 8:31 from a civilian pilot who saw the craft go down. The pilot reported no indication of trouble by radio before the crash.
John Carr of Crystal City, the civilian pilot, saw the pilot eject from the plunging plane. Changing his course, he flew over the scene in his Cessna to see the pilot parachute down upon a rocky ridge. The plane crashed some distance away. It was demolished.
From the air he saw the pilot free himself of his parachute and point to his back as if to indicate injury. Carr reported seeing a jeep headed toward the wreckage.
He then flew to Bracketville, landed, and telephoned the base here from Fort Clark.
A ranchman, Arnold Guthrie, and his son, Vernon, saw the plane crash and the pilot eject. By jeep, they reached the site and gave first aid to the pilot. There were with him, some distance from the demolished plane, when a helicopter from Laughlin AFB arrived at 10:30 a.m.
The copter, piloted by Captain Elmer O'Banion, had a base doctor aboard.
Report of the crash by Carr set a wide search into motion. A Laughlin helicopter flew to Bracketville to pick up the civilian pilot. He directed the searchers to the crash location.
The plane went down between Montell and Rio Nueces airport in rough hill and ceder brake country some 30 miles northwest of Uvalde. Sheriff Herman Richter, who is familiar with the area, said the crash apparently occurred on or near the Leona Ranch.
Joining the search were five aircraft from Laughlin and two helicopters from Randolph AFB in San Antonio. They were assisted by the highway patrol and sheriff's offices in Del Rio, Bracketville and Uvalde, who provided a radio network.
The planes from Laughlin in the search included two helicopters, one T33 jet, one U3A chase plane and on C123 transport.
The U2s are capable of extremely high altitude buy Myers ejected and parachuted from a relatively low altitude, apparently below 20,000 feet.
Soon after the crash site was discovered, a board of qualified officiers headed by Col. T.J. Jackson, deputy commander for operations at Laughlin arrived on the scene to begin an investigation.
Major Myers is a member of the 4028th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron at Laughlin. With his wife and four children, he resides at the Capehart housing units on the base. He is the son of Mr. R.B. Myers of Aulander, North Carolina.
LHF Archives Source: Del Rio News-Herald Microfilm Archives Thursday afternoon, July 14, 1960