Saturday, November 10, 2007

We Salute Our Veterans and Mourn the Death of Two Civil Air Patrol Leaders

Thank you to all the veterans for their service to our country and happy birthday to the Marines who celebrate their 232 anniversary.

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. Their service should be remembered for the ages. We extend our condolences to the families and the Civil Air Patrol membership.

The CAP Cessna 182 N881CP that crashed on Mt. Potosi is in the foreground in this picture (click on the picture to enlarge it):

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 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.

Memorial observance for Ed Lewis at NASA Dryden on Friday, Nov. 30
A memorial observance in Southern California for NASA research pilot and long-time Civil Air Patrol Pacific Region official Edwin W. Lewis Jr. is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 30, at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base. The observance will begin at 1 p.m. in Hangar 4802 and is expected to last about one hour.

Lewis and Civil Air Patrol Nevada Wing commander Dion E. DeCamp died in the crash of a CAP Cessna 182 near Las Vegas Nov. 8.

Friends and associates of Lewis wishing to attend the observance should reply by e-mail to <> or advise Beth Hagenauer of NASA Dryden public affairs at 661-276-7960 or 661-276-3449 by Tuesday, Nov. 27, if possible. Please provide full name, place of birth, date of birth, driver's license number and state from which it was issued, and the last four digits of the social security number for each attendee to meet security requirements for on-base access.

Directions To NASA Dryden:

Those planning to attend the Ed Lewis memorial at NASA Dryden should take state highway 14 to Rosamond, turn off at the Rosamond Blvd. exit, turn east and follow signs to Edwards AFB. The Air Force west gate security guard station is about eight miles inside the west boundary of the base. A NASA Dryden representative will be at the west gate security station between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to authorize attendees to proceed. Visitors should advise the west gate security guard and the Dryden representative of their intention to attend the Ed Lewis memorial observance. Drivers should have two forms of photo identification including a valid driver’s license with photo, proof of auto insurance and a current vehicle registration available for possible inspection.

Continue on Rosamond Blvd. about 10 more miles past the main base area to Lilly Avenue, where a large masonry sign identifies NASA Dryden Flight Research Center. Turn right on Lilly, proceed 3/4-mile, turn right followed by a quick left (before reaching the Dryden security gate). Parking will be available in the main parking lot adjoining the display aircraft near Bldg. 4839.

Please allow sufficient time for any potential traffic delays.

NASA Dryden Flight Operations will endeavor to provide ground transportation to the observance at NASA Dryden to those flying into William J. Fox airfield (KWJF) in Lancaster, providing they are advised in advance through the Public Affairs contact above. Transportation will depart from the Fox terminal building at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 30.

Ed Lewis Movie, 10 minutes of footage of the NASA Y0-3A flying at Edwards AFB

Quiet YO-3A Aircraft Association Tribute

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). He also held the position of the CAP Pacific Region Director of Operations Training. Among the numerous awards received by Colonel DeCamp during his CAP service were the Commanders Citation, the Meritorious Service Award, Certificate of Recognition for Lifesaving, Red Service Ribbon and Counterdrug Ribbon. Colonel DeCamp never forgot the humble beginnings from whence he came. His reputation among his family, friends and colleagues was one of an officer, gentleman and dear friend. He afforded everybody with kindness, respect and the individual dignity they deserved, and was a man of incredible depth and breadth. He embodied the strength and spirit of truth, integrity and ethical behavior in all his endeavors, inspiring others to act similarly. Colonel DeCamp never failed to celebrate and recognize the effort of others, and how that may have contributed to his success or that of the organization. DeCamp told amazing stories of his days in aviation that never seemed to get old to his listeners. He flew with celebrities such as Bob Hope and Jayne Mansfield across the Pacific on USO tours. He was an grand person to be around, with a manner that put all at ease. Friends always considered his presence at a party the mark of a successful gathering. In his leisure time over the years, he was an expert skier, marksman, hunter and equestrian. Colonel DeCamp is survived by his wife, Betsy (E.J. Smith ); son, Michael; daughters, Gail and Kristin; four grandchildren and faithful hunting dog, Scotch. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to either the Dion E. DeCamp Memorial Scholarship Fund, CAP PACREG, or the Gray Eagles Foundation, Atten. Sue Pyle, O'Connell Bldg., 14600 Trinity Blvd., Suite 500, Ft. Worth, TX 761552512. Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas, NV is in charge of arrangements.

Memorial observance for Colonel Dion E. DeCamp in Reno on December 10, 2007:

Memorial Service/Celebration of Life for Col. Dion E. DeCamp will begin at 1:00 pm, December 10, 2007 at the Wilbur D. May Museum Center in Rancho San Rafael Park, 1595 North Sierra, Reno, NV. There will be a pot-luck with refreshments directly after the services.
In order to provide adequate seating and refreshments we need to know how many people are planning on attending. Please notify either Point of Contact listed below via e-mail no later than 5, December 2007. Please do not contact the Museum directly.
POC SOUTH: Lt Col Roy Campbell, POC NORTH: Lt Col James Nicholson,

Pictures From Dion DeCamp Memorial Service

Pacific Region Civil Air Patrol Memorial Page


Colonel Edwin W. Lewis Jr. of Rosamond, California:

Colonel Dion E. DeCamp of Reno, Nevada:

Colonel DeCamp is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

One of the last clips of Colonel DeCamp:

Crash Location:

Civil Air Patrol News Release:

Pacific Region director of operations, Nevada Wing commander en route to Rosamond, Calif.
Nov. 9, 2007
MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. – Two nationally recognized and highly regarded members of the Civil Air Patrol – Col. Edwin W. Lewis Jr., director of operations for CAP’s Pacific Region, and Col. Dion E. DeCamp, commander of CAP’s Nevada Wing – died Thursday evening when their CAP plane crashed south of Las Vegas.
Lewis had traveled to Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas to drop off a CAP airplane to be used as an airshow display. He and DeCamp were apparently en route to Rosamond, Calif., Lewis’ hometown, when the crash occurred.
Lewis and DeCamp had enjoyed long and distinguished careers, both in the U.S. Air Force and the Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the Air Force. Most recently, both men were actively involved in the search for legendary American aviator Steve Fossett.
Lewis, 71, had served in the Civil Air Patrol for more than 50 years. He was a former national vice commander, elected in August 1993. He served in that capacity for one year. Before that, he served as Pacific Region commander for four years. He also was California Wing commander from 1978 to 1982.
Lewis was both a CAP and USAF command pilot with more than 28,000 flight hours.
He retired from Pan Am as a commercial airline pilot in 1989 to become a research pilot with NASA. Since 1997, he worked at Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., where he instructed in four aircraft – C-12, C-20A, DC-8 and T-34C – supporting NASA-Dryden flight test programs. He also was the center’s aviation safety officer.
Lewis’ military awards include the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Air Medals, Meritorious Service Medal and others. His CAP awards include Distinguished Service Medals, Exceptional and Meritorious Service Awards, Gill Robb Wilson Award, the Search and Rescue ribbon, and others.
He is married to the former Midge Chrestenson. They have two adult sons, Eric and Steven.
Lewis was a region advisor for the Fossett search.
DeCamp, 73, of Reno, Nev., has been commander of the Nevada Wing since 2003. Most recently, he led the wing’s initial search efforts for Fossett, who disappeared on Labor Day during a solo flight in Nevada. The search for Fossett, who has yet to be found, was the largest in the Civil Air Patrol’s modern-day history.
DeCamp is married to CAP Lt. Col. E.J. Smith, who also served as search Incident Commander during the Fossett mission. He is survived by adult son, Michael and two daughters, Kristin and Gayle.
Col DeCamp joined CAP in 1994 having served as Nevada Wing director of operations, vice commander, representative to the Nevada state SAR Board and Pacific Region director of operations training before becoming Nevada Wing commander.
DeCamp was a CAP and USAF command pilot with more than 27,000 flight hours, and was retired from the California Air National Guard, served in Vietnam and flew C-130 missions worldwide. He retired, as Captain, from American Airlines in 1994.
The cause of the Thursday evening’s crash is unknown at this time. A full investigation of the crash by the National Transportation Safety Board is scheduled to begin this morning.
“The CAP family is deeply saddened by this tremendous loss,” said Brig. Gen. Amy S. Courter, CAP interim national commander. “There were no finer members than Col. DeCamp and Col. Lewis. Their illustrious volunteer service, which collective spanned more than seven decades, touched innumerable lives and now, in sorrow, consoles those left behind as a testament to their dedication and commitment to the citizens of their respective communities.”
The Civil Air Patrol was founded on Dec. 1, 1941, less than a week before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brought the United States into World War II. Today, CAP performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and was credited by the AFRCC with saving 105 lives in fiscal year 2007.
In addition to their search and rescue duties, CAP volunteers perform homeland security, disaster relief and counterdrug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. Members also play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to the more than 22,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet program.


National Transportation Safety Board Preliminary Report:

NTSB Identification: SEA08FA023
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, November 08, 2007 in Las Vegas, NV
Aircraft: Cessna T182T, registration: N881CP
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On November 8, 2007, approximately 1930 Pacific standard time, a Cessna T182T, N881CP, was destroyed after impacting mountainous terrain while in a climb near Potosi Mountain, about 24 nautical miles southwest of Las Vegas, Nevada. The airplane was registered to the Civil Air Patrol, Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama. Both the left-seat and right-seat certificated airline transport pilots sustained fatal injuries. Visual meteorological dark night conditions prevailed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal cross-country flight, and a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan had been filed and activated at the time of the accident. The flight departed the North Las Vegas Airport (VGT), Las Vegas, Nevada, approximately 1915, and was destined for Rosamond, California (L00).

In an interview with the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC), a local law enforcement helicopter pilot, who was on an aerial patrol mission at the time of the accident, reported observing an explosion in mountainous terrain southwest of Las Vegas. The pilot stated that immediately after the explosion he flew directly to the impact area, which took approximately 5 to 7 minutes. The impact site was reported to be at coordinates 35 degrees 57.542 minutes north latitude and 115 degrees 29.634 minutes west longitude, at an elevation of approximately 7,200 feet mean sea level. The accident site was located about three-quarters of a mile southeast of Mount Potosi, elevation 8,514 feet mean sea level.

Due to the remote location of the accident site, only limited onsite documentation was possible. A detailed examination of the airplane will be conducted subsequent to its retrieval.

Parties to the investigation include the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Civil Air Patrol, the United States Air Force, Lycoming, and Cessna Aircraft.

Update: NTSB Final Report


Earlier Report:

The cause of the Thursday evening accident is unknown at this time. A full investigation of the crash by the National Transportation Safety Board was scheduled to begin Friday morning.

Regis#: 881CP Make/Model: C182 Description: 182, Skylane
Date: 11/08/2007 Time: 0315

Event Type: Accident Highest Injury: Fatal Mid Air: N Missing: N
Damage: Destroyed

City: LAS VEGAS State: NV Country: US


INJURY DATA Total Fatal: 2
# Crew: 2 Fat: 2 Ser: 0 Min: 0 Unk:
# Pass: 0 Fat: 0 Ser: 0 Min: 0 Unk:
# Grnd: Fat: 0 Ser: 0 Min: 0 Unk:

WEATHER: KLAS 090245Z 10SM FEW180 BKN250 33/M01 A2995

Activity: Unknown Phase: Unknown Operation: OTHER

FAA FSDO: LAS VEGAS, NV (WP19) Entry date: 11/09/2007


The CAP Story (PDF file)
The National Museum of the Civil Air Patrol
Civil Air Patrol Talk Thread
Las Vegas Review-Journal Article
Reno Gazette-Journal Article
Civil Air Patrol History Video


Mt. Potosi in Nevada is the site of the TWA Flight 3 crash on January 16, 1942 that killed actress Carole Lombard, 15 Army Air Corp pilots, 3 passengers and 3 crew members:

Carole Lombard Crash Site on Mount Potosi
Another Website on the Carole Lombard Crash Site on Mount Potosi
Remembering Flight 3 and Carole Lombard
Mt. Potosi and Pictures of the Carole Lombard Crash Site
Tales of Vegas Past - The Death of Carole Lombard
Carole Lombard Biography with trivia
Aviation Archaeology Investigation and Research

Carole Lombard:

Video of Carole Lombard Crash Site on Mount Potosi:

A TWA Douglas DC-3:

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard:

Carole Lombard:

High Flight by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.:

Carole Lombard Tribute:

Another Carole Lombard Tribute:

Carole Lombard acting in "Hands Across the Table" (1935)

Carole Lombard acting in "Hands Across the Table" - (1935) - 2

Never Let Go:

Colonel Lewis - 10 minutes of footage of the NASA Y0-3A flying at Edwards AFB:

Army Lockheed YO-3A Quiet Star:

Y0-3A Quiet Star:

The Y0-3A in Vietnam 1970-1971:

Colonel Dion Ellsworth DeCamp:


Anonymous said...

One more similarity worth noting is that Jan 16 '42 and Nov 8 '07 both happened to fall on nights of the New Moon.

Anonymous said...

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