Friday, February 26, 2016

#CollisionWithFame: Eliott See & Art Bassett, February 28, 1966

The T-38 Talon first went into production in 1961; it is the most-produced jet fighter aircraft in the world and continues in service as of 2007. The craft is memorable to NASA fans as the “commuter aircraft” of the astronauts when they would travel to Cape Canaveral for Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space missions.  Manufactured by Northrup, it is a very successful and safe airframe, unlike the F-16 and F-104  with their high accident rates.  On February 28, 1966, Gemini IX astronauts Elliott See and Art Bassett were flying to Lambert Field outside Saint Louis when their T-38 crashed into a hanger, killing both astronauts.  A NASA investigation revealed that pilot See made too low approach, and that pilot error combined with poor weather conditions contributed to their fatal crash.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

#CollisionWithFame: The U.S. Navy Band, February 25 1960

The U.S. Navy Band was as much of a source of pride for the Navy as the sea-bearing military force is for America, which is why both the Navy and America suffered a tragic loss from a plane crash in 1960.
At the time, Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower was making an official visit to Brazil and was a guest for Brazilian president Jascelino Kubitschek. The band was to perform that evening at a dinner where both presidents would be in attendance.
According to Naval archives, the chief of naval operations, Adm. Arleigh Burke, wanted to schedule the band for several appearances on the South American trip. Upon leaving from Buenos Aires, Argentina, the Navy transport plane collided in air with a Brazilian airliner near Rio de Janerio. Sixty-one people on board were killed, including 19 members of the band, specifically the strings section. Only three sailors survived the crash. They had been playing cards near the back of the plane.

Friday, February 19, 2016

#CollisionWithFame: Sir Frederick Grant Banting, February 21 1941

Canadian-born British subject, Sir Frederick Grant Banting was a skilled medical researcher who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his role in the discovery of insulin (he was knighted in 1934). He was killed en route to England on a medical war mission. Banting was  a liaison between American and British medical services with the coming of war.  He was flying from Gander, Newfoundland, to England on when both engines failed on his plane, which crashed into a stand of trees.   Of the four persons on the aircraft, three died, including Banting who lingered for a few days before succumbing to his injuries.

Friday, February 12, 2016

CollisionWithFame: Ken Hubbs, February 13 1964

Ken Hubbs was scared of flying.  He decided to approach the problem the way many folks do, by running straight at his fear – Ken Hubbs took flying lessons, receiving his license at the end of January, 1964.  
Hubbs, 22, had emerged as one of the best middle-infielders in the game of baseball in 1962, when the Chicago Cubs brought him up from the minors to take over second base. The starter at second the previous two years, Don Zimmer, had been let go in the expansion draft to the New York Mets; they had taken a look at Hubbs at the end of 1961 when the rosters expanded.  Hubbs did not disappoint.  Despite carrying the light stick of most middle infielders (he hit .260 with five homers, numbers comparable to Zimmer’s) he was a slick-fielding second baseman who won the Golden Glove at second as a rookie – the first rookie player to ever win the coveted defensive award.   His defensive play was good enough to win him Rookie of the Year honors in the NL, beating out Donn Clendenon. By the end of his sophomore season he had established himself as a premier second baseman. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

#CollisionWithFame: Richard Obenshain

In 1978, Virginia Republican Senator William Scott decided to not seek reelection.  As is the custom in Virginia, the state convention selected a nominee.  The convention did not have to look too far, choosing the GOP’s state party chairman, lawyer Richard Obenshain of Blacksburg.  The Republican Pary had not been competitive in much of Virginia for the previous century, but Obenshain had worked to recruit GOP candidates and build an organization that could take advantage of the collapse of the Democratic Byrd/Flood Machine.  Obenshain had vanquished former Secretary of the Navy John Warner at the state party convention, and was poised to hold the Virginia seat for the Republicans. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

#CollisionWithFame: “The Day the Music Died” as Told by the CAB and the Coroner

I wouldn't mind dying in a plane crash. It'd be
a good way to go. I don't want to die in my sleep,
or of old age, or OD. I want to feel what it's like.
I want to taste it, hear it, smell it. Death is only going
to happen to you once; I don't want to miss it
 Jim Morrison

The February 3 1959 "Buddy Holly" crash near Mason City, Iowa, is the most legendary celebrity airplane crash of all time.  Three young, talented emerging stars on tour board a small aircraft on a stormy winter night.  Within hours, the craft crashes, the young stars have died, and talent becomes legend for Buddy Holly, J. P. “Big Bopper” Richardson, and Ritchie Valens. Volumes are written on this crash, which inspired movies  such as The Buddy Holly Story, La Bamba, and the proposed The Day the Music Died; song, including Don MacLean’s somber, enduring ballad “American Pie;” and fiction such as Stephen King’s excellent short story “You Know They Got a Hell of a Band.  A half-century after the crash, it still looms in the national psyche, the great “what if” of rock and roll.