Indian Springs AFB, NV Cargo Plane Crash, Sep 1981
7 SOLDIERS KILLED, 61 HURT IN PLANE CRASH.
Indian Springs Air Force Base, Nev. (UPI) -- An Air Force C-130 cargo plane crashed and exploded "like a bomb" during night-time military maneuvers near a desert runway Monday, killing seven soldiers and injuring 61 others.
The troops who survived the crash escaped from side exits in the rear just before fire reached the fuel tanks, turning the craft into an inferno on the Nevada desert.
"The plane missed the field. It hit the ground, sheared off its undercarriage and skidded several hundred feet before coming to a stop," said Air Force Col. Mike Wallace. "The fuel was seeping and it caught fire. Not until the fire spread did the pyrotechnics catch on fire."
"That gave the troops in the back an opportunity to escape through the side exits. If it had been a normal crash the plane would have been a fireball," Wallace said.
The fuel fire triggered a series of smaller explosions inside the aircraft led by pyrotechnics, flares and smoke grenades, used in the night war games. The four-prop C-130 transport, with a wing span of 133-feet, hit the ground one mile short of the darkened Air Force landing strip.
Wallace said it was common for the air base to be dark and without landing lights during night training.
Eight of the 68 men aboard were Air Force crewmen based at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.
The troops undergoing night realistic field condition training were assigned to Fort Lewis, Wash. A few army observers from Fort Campbell, Ky., were on board, according to a Fort Lewis Air Force spokesman said.
All of the C-130 Texas-based crewmen survived, but were hospitalized at nearby Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., for observation suffering from sprains and bruises.
Many residents of the quiet desert community of Indian Springs, located about 50 miles north of Las Vegas, heard the explosions and believed the noise was part of a night training bombing run.
The Army identified the seven soldiers killed as:
Lt. Col. WILLIAM E. POWELL, 42, Annandale, Va.
Capt. GREGORY E. GARDNER, 34, Huntsville, Ala.
Pvt. KEVIN E. LANGLEY, 19, Pampa, Texas.
Pfc. LONNIE J. FURR, 22, Rixeyville, Va.
Spec. 4 JOHN P. CRITSELOUS, 20, Knoxville, Tenn.
Staff Sgt. JIMMIE D. BYNUM, 34, Waxahachie, Texas.
Chief Warrant Officer 3rd Class JOHN WILLIAMS, 32, Yelm, Wash.
All but WILLIAMS were Rangers from Ft. Lewis, Wash. WILLIAMS was from Ft. Campbell, Ky.
Galveston Daily News Texas 1981-09-22