Mountain View, CA Planes Collide In Mid Air Killing 16, Apr 1973


Mountain View (AP) -- The collision of a space agency jet and a Navy aircraft that took 16 lives apparently was caused by human error, the Navy said today.
"Someone made an error of course" in the collision that sent the Navy turboprop and the larger jet plummeting in flames onto a golf course Thursday as the two planes approached the Navy's Moffett Field for landings, said Rear Adm. HERBERT S. AINSWORTH. One person survived the crash.
"It does not appear to have been a mechanical malfunction. We have to look at possible personal errors," AINSWORTH told a news conference.
"There was no indication of any trouble on either plane prior to the crash," said AINSWORTH. Asked if both craft were approaching the same runway, he said: "We don't know yet, they should have been approaching separate runways."
The victims included eight scientists and technicians on the jet, a Convair 990 flying laboratory operated by the National Aeronautics and Spce Administration. The instrument-laden aircraft was valued at $5 million, said DR. HANS MARK, director of NASA's Ames Research Center here.
"It will have a very serious effect on our program," MARK said of the crash. "It was one of the major programs at Ames. It hurts our program badly."
The NASA craft also carried a crew of three, and all aboard died. The other five victims and lone survivor were on the Navy P3 Orion, described by the Navy as a $9 million submarine chaser.
A Navy board of inquiry was convened shortly after the crash, and AINSWORTH said a joing Navy-NASA investigation is expected to open Saturday.
Idaho Fire Chief.
Witnesses to the crash included BILL BRAND, 47, Ketchum, Idaho, fire chief who was training nearby with Mountain View firemen. Witnesses said both planes somersaulted before hitting the ground in a "ball of fire."
The survivor was Navy PO 3.C BRUCE N. MALIBERT, 22, an antisubmarine warfare technician from Bakersfield. The Navy said MALIBERT was "thrown clear" and taken to a hospital where his condition was reported as "very serious."
No golfers were hurt, but several had to run for safety.
MARK TRYLOROS, 25, a bartender who saw the crash, said one brave golfer ran up to one of the cockpits and tried to smash in a window with a golf club in an effort to rescue the pilot. He said several small explosions forced the golfer away.
RALPH BRYANT, Los Altos, said the NASA jet "settled on the Orion's tail. Both then nosed up and then went onto their tails onto the golf course."
NASA said the Convair names "The Galileo" had just completed a 1 1/2 hours flight during which the scientists conducted an "earth resources - related experiment." The Orion, according to the Navy, was returning from a routine patrol.
The crash occurred on Moffett Field's 40th anniversary. A spokesman said it was the "worst tragedy in the history" of the big field which has several big hangars once used to house blimps.

Mountain View (AP) -- The Navy and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration have listed 15 of the 16 persons who died in the crash of NASA Convair 990 and a Navy P3 Orion turboprop.
The remaining victim was a Navy man whose family had not yet been notified, a Navy spokesman said.
The Navy identified its other four victims as:
Lt. STEPHEN A. SCHWARTINE, 28, pilot, Storrs, Conn., and Santa Clara, survived by widow and two children.
Lt. (1G) LONNIE H. KERKOFF, 24, co-pilot, Morgan, Minn., and Mountain View, survived by widow.
CPO JAMES McDOWELL, 35, Charlotte N. C. and Menlo Park, survived by widow and five children.
PO 1.C WILLIAM RUSSEY, 31, Wichita, Kan., and Mountain View, survived by widow.
The NASA list:
HERBERT V. CROFS, employe of NASA's AIrborne Science Office, which operated the Convair, of Mountain View.
JAMES F. REMINGTON, NASA Photo Technology Branch, of Moffett Field.
JAMES P. RILEY, NASA, pilot, Sunnyvale.
FRANK J. BRASMER, NASA, flight engineer, San Jose.
JOHN W. YUSKEN, NASA Bio-Technology Branch, San Jose.
PHILLIP R. WILCOX, NASA airborn science office, Sunnyvale.
GASTON P. FARAONE, NASA Photo Technology Branch, Saratoga.
ROY ADKINS, of the Northrop Corp., Beverly Hills, co-pilot, no hometown available.
C. A. ROBINSON, Northrop, no hometown available.
E. FORSLOW, Teledyne Corp., Hawthorne, no hometown address.
B. SORENSON, Teledyne, no hometown available.

Modesto Bee and News-Herald California 1973-04-13