Memories still raw for solel survivor of 85 plane crash

A space where one can recall ideas, thoughts, reasons why, causes, thinking back, as tears go by.
User avatar
Kerry R
Moderator
Posts: 228
Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:00 am
Location: Houston Texas
South Africa

Memories still raw for solel survivor of 85 plane crash

#1

Postby Kerry R » Wed Jan 21, 2015 7:21 am

RENO - Some wounds don't heal. Some memories don't fade.

Galaxy Airlines Flight 203 crashed into a Reno field just after 1 a.m. on Jan. 21, 1985 – 30 years ago Wednesday.

But for the first responders and the flight's sole survivor , it seems like yesterday.

"I spent 32 years in the department and have been retired for 15 years now, but that's the one I remember the most," said George Kitchen, a retired Reno Fire Department captain. "I think about it every time I drive by there."

Richard Ross, a retired Washoe County sheriff's sergeant, who was the first officer on the scene still can't bring himself to talk extensively about the experience.

"It will be with me forever," he said. "The whole thing that bothers me still is that so many people perished and there was nothing we could do."

On Wednesday, a new memorial will be unveiled to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the crash.

Of the 71 passengers and crew on board the charter flight bound for Minneapolis, only one – 17-year-old George Lamson Jr. – survived.

"It's very difficult to say anything," said Lamson, now 47, who said it would be too difficult for him to attend the ceremony.

"I don't want to be remembered as the boy who survived this accident. I want to be remembered as the man that lived," he said. "Life is a gift for which I am always grateful for. Thank you to all that have helped me along in my journey."

Lamson, who has lived a quiet life in Reno since 1990, said he recently made a private trip to Rancho San Rafael to view the memorial and was pleased with both the design and placement of the plaque, which is embedded in a granite boulder and surrounded by the pine trees that were planted in memory of the plane's passengers and crew.

He wrote on his Facebook page, "It is so quiet and beautiful at this park this time of year. I spent a good half hour there and only saw one other person. I am grateful for the kindness given to us. Thank you for the beautiful place to remember our loved ones!"

A SUPER BOWL CHARTER

In January 1985, Lamson, his father George Sr., and 64 other football fans from Minnesota traveled on a charter flight from Minneapolis to Reno. Some of the group went by bus to Stanford, Calif., to attend the Super Bowl game between the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins, while others traveled to Lake Tahoe and watched the game at Caesars Tahoe.

The charter group reunited late on the night of Jan. 20, 1985, at then-Reno-Cannon International Airport, and Galaxy Airlines Flight 203, a Lockheed Electra four-engine turboprop fully loaded with fuel, took off just after 1 a.m.

A minute after takeoff, the co-pilot notified the Reno tower of a severe vibration and requested an immediate return to the airport. Seconds later, the plane went down. It caromed into a berm and broke in half, just in front of the row where Lamson and his father were seated.

A huge fireball followed. Lamson, strapped in his seat, was launched through the fireball.

INITIAL CONFUSION

First responders were notified immediately that something had happened, but messages were mixed. The airport fire department knew it was a plane crash.

Dick Swinney, a volunteer with the Washoe County Sheriff's Hasty Team at the time, recalls his pager going off with the report of an 18-wheeler colliding with a motor homes. (The plane crashed into an RV sales lot.)

"It wasn't until we got there that we realized it was far worse," said Swinney.

George Kitchen was the captain at Reno Fire Department's Station 6 and his was one of two trucks from the station that responded.

"As we pulled on the scene, I noticed a seat sitting out in the street and I radioed to the the crew that was following us to check it out," Kitchen said. "It ended up being the only survivor."

Firefighter Mike Mooney was in the vehicle behind Kitchen. He found Lamson strapped in his seat and began administering first aid until paramedics arrived.

"After that, we started to attack the fire," he said. "But looking back, the biggest thing I can remember was the survivor. Those memories don't go away. They're pretty fresh."

Two other passengers, George Lamson Sr. and Robert Miggins, initially survived the crash, but both died in the hospital days later.

George Lamson Jr., was released from the hospital after eight days and returned to Minnesota, accompanied by his mother.

AFTERMATH

In April 1985, he came back to Reno to testify at the National Transportation Safety Board hearing on the crash. He told the Reno Gazette-Journal at the time, "I feel I was watched over for sure. I feel lucky to be alive."

The final NTSB report was released in March 1986. It said the plane went down when the pilot, Allen Heasley, reacted to the vibration incorrectly by ordering an engine power reduction.

Galaxy Grove, the memorial tribute to the passengers and crew of Galaxy Flight 203, was dedicated at Rancho San Rafael in 1986, featuring a bronze plaque and a grove of pine trees.

Sometime in late 2013, the large brass plaque was stolen, likely to be sold as scrap metal. The Washoe County Parks Department commissioned a replacement memorial be made, this one etched in granite and attached to a two-ton boulder.

User avatar
Raffles
Site Admin
Posts: 3493
Joined: Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:00 am
Location: Die K@K Plaas
Contact:
Burkina Faso

Re: Memories still raw for solel survivor of 85 plane crash

#2

Postby Raffles » Wed Jan 21, 2015 7:38 am

From Wikipedia :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galaxy_Airlines_Flight_203

The United States National Transportation Safety Board investigated the accident, and issued the following probable cause:

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the captain’s failure to control and the copilot’s failure to monitor the flight path and airspeed of the aircraft. This breakdown in crew coordination followed the onset of unexpected vibration shortly after takeoff.

The NTSB added the following Contributing Factor:

Contributing to the accident was the failure of ground handlers to properly close an air start access door, which led to the vibration.
Hindsight is what you see from the tail gunner's position. :D

User avatar
avi-addict
Taxying Poster
Posts: 606
Joined: Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:00 am
Location: PolokwaStat

Re: Memories still raw for solel survivor of 85 plane crash

#3

Postby avi-addict » Thu Feb 26, 2015 2:32 pm

Saw it on 'Air Crash Investigation'.  So this all came down to human error.......  :RIP:
If you can't convince them, confuse them or cast a spell over them.  I'm the witch, then there's the cat and the broom . . .


Return to “Those Were The Days”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Yahoo [Bot] and 2 guests