Email from Bill Laux who was on the investigation.
(This is what we refer to as a "sea story" even if it didn't happen at sea. Thanks for sharing it Bill.)
I just got a chance to see your story about the Dillon A3 crash. Brings back some great memories...
I was a young, single, Chief Petty Officer attached to VAQ-131 at the time 142252 crashed. Shortly after the crash, I was assigned to a crash investigation team and left for Dillon. If I remember correctly (long time ago) the team consisted of the squadron Executive Officer, the Safety Officer, a couple of other squadron officers, a civilian Douglas Tech Rep and myself.
We flew to the AFB at Colorado Springs and were berthed at the Officer's Quarters on the base. Arrangements were to be made to fly us to the crash site. The first night there was a "free night" and I decided to find out what Colorado Springs was all about. I suited up in my Navy blues (figuring that would give me an edge at the local bistro since they probably were tired of Air Force uniforms) and headed for town. I found out that a place called "Mr D's" or "Mr G's" was the place to go. It was a bar with a country western band. I was right about the uniforms, since the moment I walked in there, I couldn't pay for a drink. Not only that, but I wound up at a table with three of your beautiful Colorado ladies. Needless to say, I was in heaven...
Anyway, after drinking and dancing half the night away, one of the young ladies asked me if I wanted to drive up to the side of one of the mountains and view the lights of Manitou Springs or drive up to the side of one of the mountains and view the lights of Colorado Springs. Been so long ago that I can't remember which but I was ready to go...
After partaking of the city lights and a few other things she drove me back to the Officer's Quarters on the base. It must have been about 0500. I just walked into my room and took my shoes off and I heard a knock on the door. It was the Douglas Tech Rep telling me that the team was leaving in about half an hour to drive to Fort Carson and board a Huey to go up to the crash site.
I was still half wrecked and completely exhausted but managed to get into a flight suit, boots and jacket.
We boarded the Huey at Fort Carson and flew up to Dillon. The Huey pilot indicated that due to the altitude he couldn't take everyone with all our gear up to the crash site at once. It would have to be a shuttle operation. I remember landing on the lawn area of a resort on the Lake. The people came out and asked what we were doing up there. After explaining, the first shuttle left and the rest of us went to a local restaurant to get something to eat. I believe the people that owned the resort gave the pilot a camera and asked him if someone could take a photo of the resort from the air. There was no problem with that.
After eating. we waited for the Huey to return to take the rest of us up there. We landed in a grassy area at the site. Naturally, after a night of carousing, I wasn't feeling too well. I think the Executive Officer was suspicious of my behavior but I pleaded "altitude sickness". Upon arriving at the crash site, the other members of the team did most of the work as I was still experiencing "altitude sickness". Upon completion, as we were leaving, I remember the Huey pilot mentioning it would be hard to lift off and mentioned a manuever called "translational lift" (if I remember correctly). As I remember, this involved scooting across the grassy area and then a quick pull-up. We just cleared the tops of the trees. Scary...
After returning to the resort, the owners invited us in to their home and said we couldn't leave until we had hot showers and some famous Colorado peaches and ice cream. Since, by that time, I was feeling a little better the suggestion sounded great. The hot showers were nice but the Colorado peaches and ice cream were outstanding. We had experienced genuine Colorado hospitality...
We returned to NAS Alameda. I retired from the Navy in 1976 and went to work as a civilian at the Naval Rework Facility in Alameda. I ran into "Marty" Newton (one of the crewmen) who was also working there. He mentioned to me that he had to spend the night in the mountains and during the night he heard a noise and immediately thought it was a grizzly bear. He decided to outrun it and ran into a branch of a tree that knocked him down and almost out. Sadly to say, Marty passed away about 1985 from colon cancer.
Your website brought back a lot of great memories. I have always wanted to get back to Dillon but have never made it. Thanks for the article..
ADCS, USN Ret.
Last Modified: 1/1/2008