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


Convair co-pilot mentioned in 2015

I read your comments about the Convair 990 co-pilot. I was told the co-pilot in the crash was my dad, Roy. Perhaps Roy was a pilot during an earlier landing, then the co-pilot later during the fatal flight. No one told me that they were practicing landings that day. I do have a hunch that the pilots and co-pilots switch back and forth for cross-training purposes. Perhaps that would explain why my dad was co-pilot that flight.

Either way, I have to could the pilot or co-pilot monitor a putt that day...weren't they busy at Moffett Field? You were at the air strip before you went golfing? Thanks for the information, however, about the crash site experience.

Moffatt Field air crash witnessing the collision of 2 airplanes

In 1971ish I was driving in this area with my baby in his car seat.....I looked up and saw one plane on the horizon and another plane on a 45 degree angle stuck into the first plane...both were falling to the ground. I have never forgotten the horror of the site.

What a loss for so many.

Moffett Crash

For what it's worth, I was the Asst. Security Officer at the time and heard the crash announcement on my radio. By the time I jumped into my truck, the first fire truck was going out of the gate. I got right behind him. He drove to the golf course fence and went right over it knocking it down. Both planes were fully engulfed in that short time and there already was no chance of anyone surviving except for the crewman who was thrown clear. The fire crew aggressively attacked the fire and did an outstanding job fighting a huge fire with intense heat. I know, I was there.

Bob, Thank you for your


Thank you for your comment on this accident. Lt Steve Schwarting, the P-3 pilot was my closest life long friend and his death still brings tears to my eyes. I saw him and family about 2 weeks before this crash. Sadly his wife and 2 children were at Base Ops waiting to pick Steve up upon his return from this flight. You can only imagine the horror they experienced. I am still in touch with Steve's mother and his two brothers. Steve graduated from Naval Academy and I finished the Air Force Academy in the mid-sixties. We were like brothers and of course I still miss him. Many thanks again. Brad

Moffett Crash

I was on the golf course and witnessed this crash. Convair that was approaching the right runway was tragically cleared to the left runway and ran into the back of the P-3, sitting down on the P3's vertical stableizer, forcing the P-3 straight up and over, landing nose first on the GC. Contair went into a stall and in slow motion backed up and crashed on the GC, snapping the landing gear and pancaking on the grass where a fire broke out on the left wing tip, engulfing the aircraft.
Fire Department had no quick way to get on the GC and it took way too long for them to reach the crash site. They should have just have driven through the cyclone fence and put some water on the Convair.
The Convair co pilot smiled at me earlier in the day as his beautiful aircraft landed. He was motioning with hands the length of my short putt and smiling, not knowing that his life would end within two hours. RIP my friend and all of the crew members who's lives ended way too early.
Tower air traffic control guy cleared both to the same runway and pilots did not recognize the error. The Convair 990 approaches with a very high nose up attitude making it all but impossible to see an aircraft it.