Nellis Air Force Base, NV Cargo Plane Crash, Jun 1983


Las Vegas (AP) - An Air Force cargo plane carrying six people turned into a "burning mass of metal" after crashing on a training flight, killing at least five of those aboard.
"We are confirming five fatalities," said Capt. Ann Simpson, a public affairs officer for the Military Airlift Command at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.
Simpson said today that the fate of the sixth person on board the C-130 that crashed and burned Tuesday in a remote section of the Nellis Air Force Base test range is not known.
"We don't say anything until the individual or his body is found," she said. "They've turned up in bushes before, so we don't say anything until we're sure."
The names of the victims have not been released.
Rescue teams from Nellis Air Force Base were to return this morning to the crash site in a desolate area of the base some 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Ms. Fenner said. They abandoned the site Tuesday as darkness approached.
The propeller-driven C-130, which was on a training mission, apparently hit a mountain and burned, she said.
"You've got an incredibly large burning mass of metal there," Ms. Fenner said. "It's very hard to be sure who you've got there."
Asked if those aboard the plane were dead, she said, "I cannot say that, they did not specifically tell me that."
Ms. Fenner said teams of Air Force officers from the base had been sent to comfort spouses of the crash victims and would stay with them as long as necessary.
Five crew members were aboard the C-130, along with one passenger, an Air Force member stationed at Nellis, she said.
The weather was clear and "not a factor" in the 12:10 p.m. crash, Ms. Fenner said.
The crewmen, assigned to the 463rd
Tactical Airlift Wing out of Dyess, were on a two-week Red Flag training mission out of Nellis.
A helicopter rescue team from Nellis reached the crash site shortly after the plane went down on the test range, which adjoins the Nevada Test Site, the nation's nuclear testing grounds.
Ms. Fenner said the crash occurred in a "very, very rugged" area. Inside Nellis, the elevation ranges
from near sea level at dry lake beds to 10,000-foot mountain peaks.
Col. Virgil Batten, vice commander of the 463rd wing, said the plane had been at Nellis for about 10 days while participating in the Red Flag exercise.
"Red Flag is an exercise where our crews are practicing ... under combat conditions," said Batten.
"It's a combat environment."
It was the second crash in the Nevada desert involving a C-130 from Dyess Air Force Base in two years.
In September 1981, a C-130 on a training mission crashed while attempting to land at a darkened airstrip at Indian Springs Air Force Base about 45 miles north of Las Vegas. Seven Army Rangers were killed when the plane landed short of the runway and burst into flames. Another nine crew members were injured.

Santa Cruz Sentinel California 1983-06-29

Listing of the Casualties:
Pilot Capt. JOHN F. OTTO, 28, Norfolk, Va.
1st Lt. RANDAL WITTENAUER, 25, St. Louis, Mo.
1st Lt. ANTHONY W. LEWIS, 25, Lake Station, Ind.
Master Sgt. PAUL D. KUHN, 41, Owensboro, Ky.
Sgt. RUSSEL A. JOHNSON, 27, Senecaville, Oh.
GARY M. DINOFRIO, 23, Clairton, Pa.