Las Vegas, NV (near) Thunderbird Jet Crashes, Apr 1961

Thunderbirds circa 1960.jpg


Las Vegas, Nev. -- (AP) -- The leader and another member ot the Air Force's famed Thunderbirds precision flying team were killed Thursday in the crash of a two-seat jet trainer.
MAJ. ROBERT S. FITZGERALD, 38, New York City, and CAPT. GEORGE A. NIAL, 31, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., were on a routine training mission out of Nellis Air Force Base.
Their F100F super Sabre crashed in the desert 50 miles north of here.
The other three members of the team, which staged spectacular flying stunt shows at cities all over the nation, were flying in the area but did not participate in the mission.
FITZGERALD had commanded the group since March 1959. He formerly was a member of a two-man Air Force stunt team.
NIAL, son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas M. Nial of Fort Lauderdale, was himself a pilot but while touring with the Thunderbirds acted as their narrator.

Charleston Gazette West Virginia 1961-04-07