Jones Pass C-123 Accident Report (excerpts)

The following are Ron's hand-typed excerpts from the USAF accident report investigation. Some abbreviation and omissions are made. The 1960 form is different from the 1947 form from which this page was created but since the info is the same I'll use this format. The more modern version is more info-dense. These are "releasable excerpts" and is not the complete report.

1. DATE AND TIME OF ACCIDENT : 11 Sept. 1960, 0830 MST

2. LOCATION OF ACCIDENT : Vasquez Peak CO, 11,200' level, appx 50 NM west of Lowry AFB

3. AIRCRAFT: C-123B  55-4539A

4. HOME STATION AND ORGANIZATION:  9th AF, 464th  Wing, 776 Sqdrn.  Pope AFB N. Carolina

5. RESULTS TO AIRCRAFT: (Report doesn't specifically say but picture indicates "demolished")

6. HISTORY OF AIRCRAFT AND ENGINES: (Not in this report, or my excerpts)


7. PILOT, HOME STATION AND ORGANIZATION:  1st Lt. Ernest F. Jantzen, 9th AF, 464th Wing, 776 Sqdrn

8. PILOT HISTORY:  Rated pilot 13 Oct. 1956

                                   Total hrs  1913

                                   Total hrs this type (1st pilot and IP): 1553

                                   Instrument time total : 324


9. CO-PILOT HOME STATION AND ORGANIZATION:  Capt. Woodrow C. Thompson (same as above)

10. COPILOT HISTORY:  Rated pilot 8 Feb. 1944

                                           Total hrs  3985

                                           Total hrs this type 200

                                           Instrument time total  743


OTHER PILOT NAME AND HOME STATION: 1st Lt. Luta R. Burford,  (I'm not sure but he wasn't "TAC" but was "ADC" still attached to the same unit for flying)

OTHER PILOT HISTORY: Rated pilot 21 June 1952

                                            Total hrs : 1627

                                            Total hrs this type: 0

                                            Instrument time total  426

                                            (Note - Burford has 531 hrs jet time, Jantzen has 158, Thompson has 2)

11. FLIGHT ENGINEER AND NAVIGATOR NAMES (ETC)-  FE was S/Sgt R.E. Davenport  (No Nav.)

12. RESULTS TO CREW - Fatal. ( see previous webpage - all aboard were killed)


  A. Aircraft C-123B, Serial number 55-4539 assigned the 776th Troop Carrier Squadron, Pope AFB, N. Carolina departed Lowry AFB, CO. at 0801 MST 11 Sept. 1960.   9th AF Logistic Mission 9-9-8 from Pope AFB to Hamilton AFB, CA.  The DD Form 175 was VFR Direct Kremmling VOR, Direct Meeker VOR, Direct Myton VOR, Direct Salt Lake VOR and direct to Hill AFB, Utah, a distance of 360 NM, True airspeed of 160 kts, est. time enroute 2 hrs 30 minutes.  Fuel on board 5 hrs  30 minutes, 1200 gallons or 7200 lb.  No radio communication was received after takeoff.

B.  Route weather forecast, minimum ceiling 4000 feet in the mountains, min. visibility flight level 10 miles. Max cloud tops 38,000 feet MSL. Freezing level 14,000' MSL, winds at 12,000' 320/15  Laramie and 280/15 Hill, turbulence moderate.

C.  The aircraft departed Lowry AFB, runway 26, after becoming airborne, aircraft made a left clearing turn and then back right to about 270 degrees.  The elevation at Lowry is 5415' and aircraft was estimated at 6515' climbing as it approached the  foothills west of Lowry.  A witness at Idaho Springs stated aircraft was at 500' above terrain or flight elevation of 8000' MSL from Idaho Springs to crash, witness indicated the aircraft was climbing up the valley maintaining 50 to 500' from the surface. From all witnesses' statements, the aircraft was functioning perfectly. The last witness to see the aircraft pass over was appx one mile from the crash area.

D. The weather at the area of the crash was estimated 15,000' overcast. No clouds below mountain peaks.  The aircraft crashed at the  11,200' level within a box canyon at an estimated 30 minutes after takeoff.


A. Pilot factor in that the pilot violated paragraph 12A(4), AF Reg 60-16 and entered a box canyon with insufficient altitude and lateral clearance from which to effect a safe recovery.


A. Pilot Factor - A breach of air discipline, in that the pilot operated his aircraft for a distance of thirty-two miles at altitudes ranging from 500 feet down to 50 feet above the immediate terrain, in violation of Para 12A (3) AF regs 60-16.

B. Weather conditions may have been a contributing factor in that the forecast winds and turbulence indicate a probable adverse mountain wave e7ffect on the aircraft immediately prior to impact.


 Another page

 SUBJECT: Damages caused by  C-123 Aircraft No. 54-4359  (their typo not mine)

 1. Mr. J.H. Kay, Staff Officer, USDA indicates that the crash cited occurred in the  Arapahoe National Forest, Section 14, Township 3 South, Range 76 West, 6th Principal Meridian. Mr. Kay also indicates that no private party has any interest in the damage area. Our conclusion is therefore that no claim can or will be filed for damage to trees or soil.

2. Extensive search oat the scene reveals evidence that som or all of the  crew and passengers had personal property aboard which was effectively destroyed. Claims under AFR 112-7 may be filed by survivors for such losses. It is, however, impossible to determine the extent of such losses.

Signed, Lloyd W. Weisensee, 1st Lt USAF

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Last Modified: 7/20/2001