USAF Accident Report  

Dodds & A. Reid
Hi Res

Click on the following links (1, 2, 3, 4) for high resolution scans of the USAF Accident Report (HQ AFSC/JA) provided by Eugene J. Willard on 12 January 2009. Gene was the Airborne Mission Supervisor (AMS), aka "Lucy" in charge of Security Service backenders. He was aboard Rivet Ball when she hydroplaned off the end of runway 28 on 13 January 1969.

"The Iron Pumpkin"
Capt. Robert L. "Viper" Brown
(Part-2, Rivet Ball Landing)

~ Story ~

Things were looking up.  Rivet Ball was going to Beale for a compass swing.  I'd asked if I could go along and was told by Colonel Ratto that I could if my squadron approved it.  I called Eielson and got approval from our Ops Officer, Captain Lammers.  It would be good to go to California for a few days, get away from the Alaskan winter at Shemya and, even worse, at Fairbanks.  We ordered flight lunches for the trip and put them on the aircraft.  We were supposed to leave for Beale at 8 PM but at 7:30 that was cancelled due to impending activity that had to be covered.  We took off a little after 8 and flew our mission.  Returning, we had pretty bad weather but we were used to that.  Coming down the runway, it appeared we weren't slowing down and I remember our maintenance man, Richard Steen, saying there goes Hangar Two as we roared past her.  Major Achor tied down the alarm bell and we all strapped in.  We were lucky we landed the way we did as we went past the end of the runway over a cliff and crashed into sandy ground;  had we landed the opposite way we would have encountered rocks and most likely there would have been explosions and we all would have perished.  As it was, when we came to a complete stop, we crew members in the rear went to the escape hatch. Those flight lunches were all over the place.  Steen, ever helpful, opened it and then, for a few seconds, no-one did anything, so I ripped the escape rope from its position over the hatch and told them we go out using it and we did.  It was dark out there but we all managed to find each other and eventually a van or more gathered us all and took us to the flight surgeon who grounded us.  He also, kindly, gave us all a shot of whiskey which I didn't even feel.  We then went back to an empty hangar.  The next day we went back to Rivet Ball and gathered what classified material we could.

Gene Willard aka "Lucy"
13 January 2009

Richard Steen was on Rivet Amber, #62-4137, when she vanished over the Bering Sea on 5 June 1969 with 19 souls aboard.

Kingdon R. Hawes (Webmaster)

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