Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Remembering 62014 Crash at Goose Bay

Thanks to Dick Quimby, helped by the ever alert and knowledgeable Cal Taylor, we've connected with a very determined friend in Canada, Chris Charland. Dick noticed a listing in his Nov, 2014, issue of AF magazine about an event Chris had planned for the 50th Anniversary of that tragic loss.

Cal added: "That notice concerned Chris Charland's long-time effort to have a plaque installed at Goose to memorialize the crew on that crash. In the end, it did not come about...  He still wants to see it happen. Chris was a 12-year old boy scout returning from a hike when he saw the crash."

Here's what Chris had to say about it:

G’day Gentlemen

The ceremony was supposed to held in November, but we had a pair of terrorist attacks here in Canada that put everything on hold.  The ops tempo accelerated and Defcon went up a notch.  My plan now, is to have the ceremony in June of this year.  That gives plenty of lead time for some of the dignitaries that said they would have attended with a bit more notice.

I have talked to a female cousin of the children of Guy (Vassalotti, AC of the 1st ATS crew lost in the crash) and hope to talk to them sometime in the near future.

Take care and look forward to hearing from you all.


Chris Charland
4722d/722d SUS
June 1991 – May 2003

Later, he added:

I designed the plaque which is 8 1/8 by 12 inches and made of brass.  It is already mounted as part of the memorial at the museum at Goose Bay.  I am not going to change the dedication date.

Dedicated to the crew of  MATS 1st Air Transport Squadron          C-133 Cargomaster s/n 56-2014 on the 7th of November 2014 at

5 Wing Goose Bay'

Aircraft Commander - 1st Lieutenant Guy L. Vassalotti

Co-Pilot - Captain Charles L. Jenkins

Flight Examiner - Major Frank X. Hearty

Navigator - 1st Lieutenant Douglas H. Brookfield

Flight Engineer – Technical Sergeant John. A. Kitchens

Flight Engineer – Technical Sergeant Norman H. Baron

Loadmaster – Airman 1st Class Shelton Toler

                       “Forever Remembered”

A bit of trivia for you all.  2014 was the 50th anniversary of the crash.  It is also the last four digits of the aircraft’s serial number.

Maybe I’m crazy, but I feel like I have a special bond with the fallen airmen and their families.

And here's Chris' first hand account of the crash:

The Crash of USAF C-133 Cargomaster at Goose Bay

by Chris Charland

They say that every person experiences a certain event in their lives whether it be good or bad that leaves an indelible mark on their psyche.  Mine came at 16:49 hours on the 7th of November, 1964.

The day had been relatively an uneventful one for myself and fellow Boy Scouts.  We were slowly making our back way home to Spruce Park after a day of hiking and survival training north of R.C.A.F. Station Goose Bay, Labrador.  It was a calm evening with light snow falling. Our hike homeward bound took us along a path just below Hamilton River Road and north of the fuel tank area where 100,000-gallon overhead tanks were located.  There was a van waiting on Hamilton River Road to take us the rest of the way back to our homes in Spruce Park   

As I was getting ready to climb inside, I instinctively looked skywards when I heard the sound of an approaching aircraft.  I had no idea of the impending doom as I followed the navigation and landing lights down after it had taken off from Runway 09.   In a heartbeat, there was a terrific flash of light, the likes of which I had never experienced before or since.  The monster fireball lit up the sky from horizon to horizon.  The first thing that instantly came to my mind was a nuclear bomb. You have to understand the Cold War mentality at the time.  The United States and Russia both had their fingers on the button ready to launch weapons against each other at a moment's notice.  Tension between them was akin to a large rubber band being pulled to its maximum length.  Any more and it would have snapped.

There was a dull thud of the aircraft impacting followed by a loud
whooshing sound as the fuel ignited.  The wreckage came to rest close to one of the 100,000-gallon tanks.   We were just about back into Spruce Park when the first of the emergency vehicles passed us.  Later at home, the T.V. station located on the American side, known as Goose Air Base, was broadcasting an appeal for all off duty emergency personnel to report to their respective units to assist with the crash.  The sky stayed lit up for hours after.  

The ill-fated aircraft that crashed was a Douglas C-133A Cargomaster s/n 56-2014 from Military Air Transport Service’s 1st Air Transport Squadron, based at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.   It arrived at Goose Bay 01:55 hours local time.  After a 15-hour crew rest, they proceeded to depart enroute to Thule Air Base, Greenland with a stop enroute at Sondestrom Air Base, also in Greenland.  They were loaded with meat and other provisions
   The first departure attempt was delayed due to a technical issue. The aircraft sat for a period of time without being de-iced before making a second try.  At between 120 and 150 feet, the aircraft’s starboard (right) wing suddenly dropped 20 to 30 degrees.  The aircraft commander managed to momentarily regain a level attitude.  The aircraft then rolled to the left.  The port wing dropped even more quickly and was almost vertical.  The aircraft commander was unable to do anything.  At 16:49 hrs local time, the Cargomaster struck the ground in a left wing down, nose high attitude. 

After an intensive investigation, the accident investigation board determined the primary cause was a power stall.  The most probable reason was structural icing of the wing and /or vortex generators that had accumulated ice over the 15-hour layover.