Potosi Mountain, NV Civil Air Patrol Cessna 182T Flies Into Mt. Potosi Killing Two CAP Colonels, Nov 2007
Two Civil Air Patrol Leaders Die When Their CAP Cessna 182T Flies Into Mt. Potosi
Thursday night, November 8, 2007, the Civil Air Patrol lost two volunteers and leaders of the search for Steve Fossett when their single-engine CAP Cessna 182 Skylane (N881CP) crashed into Mount Potosi southwest of Las Vegas The plane was a new turbocharged T182T NAV III that the Nevada Wing had received in April of this year. The Nevada Wing had put more than 300 hours on the plane. The Cessna disappeared from radar about 7:15 pm according to the FAA. The crash was estimated to be about 1,300 feet from the top of the 8,514 foot tall Mount Potosi, according to the National Transportation Safety Board preliminary report. The glass cockpit Cessna 182 was destroyed by fire. Killed were the Nevada Wing Commander of the Civil Air Patrol, Colonel Dion E. DeCamp and the Pacific Region Director of Operations and a former national vice commander, Colonel Edwin W. Lewis Jr. Colonel Lewis had over 28,000 hours as a pilot while Colonel DeCamp had over 27,000 hours. This is the second fatal aircraft accident for the CAP in the last three months.
Carole Lombard, an actress who was married to actor Clark Gable (see below) died returning to California on TWA Flight 3 with her mother and press agent after taking part in a national war bond campaign for World War II. Unfortunately, her plane crashed into a cliff less than 60 feet from the top of Mount Potosi on January 16, 1942. Its reported the plane was off course because the captain of the plane was in the back talking to Lombard and the first officer was up front flying all alone in instrument conditions. Lombard's plane crashed on a Thursday night at 7:23 pm. The CAP Cessna 182 that was lost last Thursday disappeared from radar at about 7:15 pm. Weird coincidence, both planes going down on a Thursday night at the same time and on the same mountain, a kind reader also has pointed out both nights fell on the New Moon. Could a moonless night have contributed to this accident? Perhaps it was the glass cockpit. The Transcontinental and Western Airlines (TWA) DC-3 Lombard was on had 15 Army Air Corp pilots aboard. On this Veterans Day we salute Colonel Lewis and Colonel DeCamp, as well as the patriots who were on that DC-3 so many years ago. A plaque is at the DC-3 crash site on Mount Potosi. A plaque should be placed at the CAP crash site on Mount Potosi as well. Colonel Lewis and Colonel DeCamp were the best of the best who were highly regarded volunteer leaders, willing to risk their lives to save others.
COLONEL EDWIN W. LEWIS JR.
Edwin W. Lewis, Jr., A research pilot at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center and director of operations for Civil Air Patrol's Pacific Region, died Thursday November 8, when the CAP Cessna 182 in which he was flying crashed into a mountain outside Las Vegas. He was 71. The cause of the crash is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board. Ed was born in New York City and began flight training as a Civil Air Patrol cadet in 1951. He received a bachelor's degree from Hobart College, N.Y., and entered the U.S. Air Force through the ROTC. He served from 1965 through 1966 in Vietnam, where he was a forward air controller, flying more than 1,000 hours in the O-1 "Bird Dog" aircraft. He earned a Bronze Star medal as well as a Distinguished Flying Cross. He then joined Pan American World Airways as a pilot. Lewis served with the California National Guard while working for Pan Am. He retired as commander of the 129th Air Rescue and Recovery Group. He took early retirement from Pan Am in 1989 to join NASA. He flew for eight years at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View and at Dryden since 1997. Lewis had served in the Civil Air Patrol as California Wing commander from 1978 to 1982, Pacific Region commander for four years and was elected national vice commander in August 1993. Ed was preceded in death by his parents and brother John. He is survived by his wife of 37 years, Midge Lewis of Castro Valley and sons Eric of Castro Valley and Steve of Los Angeles; sisters-in-law, Beverly Lewis of Utah, Sheila Conway (Jack) of Petaluma and Beverly Borges (Jeff) of Modesto; nieces, Susan Tsutsumi (Paul) of Palos Verdes, Kathy Lococo (Larry) of San Anselmo and four great- nieces and nephew. A Memorial Service will be held Saturday, November 17 at 10:00 A.M. at Transfiguration Church, 4000 E. Castro Valley Blvd, Castro Valley. Additionally, NASA will be holding a Service at the Palmdale Airport December 1. Interested parties may email EdLewisMemorial@yahoo.com for more details. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the CAP Lewis Scholarship Fund, c/o Pacific Region CAP, PO Box 4718, Hayward, CA 94540.
COLONEL DION ELLSWORTH DECAMP
Colonel Dion Ellsworth DeCamp was born on August 26, 1934 in Blackwell, OK, one of two children born to Oral and Dorris DeCamp. Colonel DeCamp and Barbara, his younger sister by two years, grew up in the small town atmosphere of Blackwell. He was an Eagle Scout and an aspiring athlete, setting an Oklahoma state swimming record for the 50-Meter Freestyle in 1950. He attended Oklahoma A&M College (later Oklahoma State University) from 1951 to 1953, majoring in Industrial Engineering. In June 1956, he entered United States Air Force Aviation Cadet Primary Navigator training at Harlington AFB, Texas. A Distinguished Graduate of Class 57-16, he received the wings of a USAF Navigator and a commission as a Second Lieutenant in September of 1957. After graduation from navigator training, he was assigned to the 1501st Air Transport Wing at Travis Air Force Base, CA, where he served from 1957 to 1961. He flew on many missions over the Pacific, including serving as navigator on the C-97 crew of Hawaiian pilot Don Ho, who became a famous entertainer. While stationed at Travis, Colonel DeCamp was selected to attend Undergraduate Pilot Training. He entered pilot training at Webb AFB, Texas in 1961, and was awarded USAF Pilot Wings in 1962, becoming one of a very select group of Air Force officers who were both navigators and pilots. Following graduation from pilot training, Colonel DeCamp was assigned the 76th Military Airlift Squadron at Charleston AFB, SC where he flew the C-130 Hercules aircraft. During this period of service as a pilot he was awarded the USAF Expeditionary Medal for Cuba in 1962, for the Dominican Republic in 1964, and for Viet Nam in 1966. In 1966, after an active duty career that provided him the opportunity to fly worldwide, including missions to many remote and exotic locations, Colonel DeCamp left the Air Force to accept a position with American Airlines. American soon called on DeCamp's unique qualifications as both a pilot and a navigator and assigned him additional duties as a navigation instructor for the airline's military contract in the Pacific. It was the beginning of a long and distinguished airline career, during which he flew the MD-80 and DC-10, and the Boeing 727, 757, and 767. He retired from American Airlines as a Captain in 1994. Colonel DeCamp paralleled his civilian airline career with one of public service as a citizen soldier pilot in the California Air National Guard. He joined the 146th Air Transport Wing, Van Nuys, California in 1967. The unit was flying C-97 transport aircraft but upgraded to the newer C-130A Hercules in 1970. During the late 1960s and early 1970s the Air Guard flew many support missions across the Pacific to Viet Nam. With his active duty experience as a pilot and a navigator, he quickly became a highly respected member of the unit. Considered by his fellow aircrew members to be an exceptionally gifted aviator, his easy style and personal presence made him a natural choice for positions of military leadership. During his career in the Air Guard he served as Squadron Chief Pilot, Group Chief Pilot, Chief of Standardization/Evaluation, Base Commander and Wing Deputy Commander for Operations. He was a respected mentor who influenced a number of junior officers who would later rise to positions of senior leadership in the military. Colonel DeCamp was the senior officer responsible for the unit's Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) operations. When called upon in emergencies, the Wing converted two of its C-130 aircraft into aerial tankers capable of dropping 3000 gallons of fire retardant on wildfires. It was a dangerous mission restricted to a few carefully selected and highly trained flyers in the Wing. A hands-on leader, Colonel DeCamp personally flew as pilot in command during MAFFS operations on numerous wildfires. Colonel DeCamp received the Air Force Commendation Medal in 1970, a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Management from the Armed Forces Institute of Technology in 1974, and retired from the Air National Guard with the rank of full Colonel in 1980. After retiring from the airlines and the Air National Guard, Colonel DeCamp moved from Southern California to Reno, NV and began another career of public service, this time as a member of the Civil Air Patrol. DeCamp joined the Reno Composite Squadron of the Nevada Wing Civil Air Patrol in 1994. He became a fully qualified Mission Pilot, Check Pilot, Counterdrug Pilot and Cadet Orientation Pilot. He also was a Master Level Standards and Evaluation Officer and became a fully qualified Incident Commander. During his time in CAP, Colonel DeCamp received the Grover Loening Aerospace Award, the Paul E. Garber and Gill Robb Wilson Awards. DeCamp also attended numerous courses within the CAP including the Region and National Staff College, National Commanders Course and other professional development courses pertaining to his progression toward Nevada Wing Commander. Colonel DeCamp was a respected and well liked instructor and trainer for many of the CAP development courses. Positions held in the Civil Air Patrol include: Nevada Wing Director of Operations, Vice Commander, representative to the Nevada State SAR Board, and Wing Commander (March 2003 until his passing).