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C-141 Tail Number: 63-8077

An old photo of an early model (non) 'paint scheme'.

Copyright: USAF Photo
Source: USAF Museum at Wright-Patterson

This aircraft was destroyed in a crash while landing at Torrejon AB, Spain, on 28 August 1973.

28 August was the night of the new moon, which had set that evening at 1946 hours Madrid Time. Approaching Torrejon, some hours later, the crew started an enroute descent, for an ILS approach to runway 23 at Torrejon. Weather was reported as 20,000 feet, overcast, with 10 NM visibility.

During the descent the pilot noticed that the crew had missed the "Descent Checklist", but became distracted by a radio call and forgot to request it later. The omission went undetected by the rest of the crew.

The crew was given a clearance to a lower altitude, but because of heavy radio traffic, the clearance was garbled. The crew was unsure of whether the controller had cleared them to 5000 or 3000 but they agreed between themselves that it must have been 3000 feet.

They read back "three thousand feet", but the controller missed the error and switched them to the final controller. They again reported "passing 5000 for 3000", but this controller also failed to hear the error. Nearing 3000 feet, the navigator noticed a hill ahead and above their altitude, but the pilot reassured him that "everything looks clear ahead".

The cleanly configured aircraft impacted the level terrain at 250 Knots, near the edge of a plateau at 3050 feet, in a slight descent. The lights of the base were visible in the valley below. The crash killed 7 crewmembers and 17 passengers. A navigator in the outboard ACM seat was thrown clear and survived the accident. At the time of the accident the crew had spent only eight of the last 60 hours in bed. Investigators determined that several switches had been left in incorrect positions, indicating the fatigue of the crew.

Because they had omitted the Descent Checklist the crew had failed to set their altimeters from 29.92 to the local altimeter setting of 30.17 and to turn on the radar altimeter. They had not monitored their descent, nor did they note that an altitude of 3000 feet was below the glideslope intercept altitude of the ILS approach.

Ironically, had they leveled off at 3000 feet with their altimeters still set to 29.92, and not allowed the aircraft to descend further, they would have cleared the terrain by 179 feet.

This information was provided by Paul Hansen.

The following photos arrived in a box of stuff salvaged from an old desk at Altus. As far as I can tell they are related to the accident at Torrejon, described above. They are presented in no particular order as it was difficult to figure one out. If you have any commentary to add to these shots, please submit to c141heaven@gmail.com




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