Share your photos,
videos, stories, poems and more.
Images of people, communities and events of bygone years are few and far between, making them all the more precious today as we strive to install a sense of history in our youth and the generations to come.
When submitting, please remember to include names of any individuals pictured, as well as when and where the photo was taken. Include any other pertinent information you feel may be relevant for caption writing, should your submission be chosen to appear in a Downhome publication.
C-133 Crash at Goose Bay
The Crash of USAF C-133 Cargomaster at Goose Bay
by Chris Charland
Senior Associate Air Force Historian
Royal Canadian Air Force
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 Serviceâï¿½ï¿½s 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.
The crew of Cargomaster 56-2014 included:
Aircraft Commander - 1st Lieutenant Guy L. Vassalotti
Co-Pilot - Captain Charles L. Jenkins
Flight Examiner Aircraft Commander/Co-Pilot - 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