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From: (Ed Rasimus)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: diamond crash
Date: Wed, 19 Aug 1998 14:32:45 GMT

"C.D. Damron" <> wrote:

>If you were there, you must be aware of alternate interpretations of the
>evidence and the controversy regarding the details of the accident
>Although everyone agreed that the lead pilot realized his situation
>before impact and probably had both hands on the stick, as evidenced by
>the load relief equipment, the controversy took off when the "stuck
>stab" theory was introduced.
>Every Air Force and Navy pilot laughed at the idea.  It wouldn't be the
>first time that an accident report reflected the desires of everyone
>Cradlets wrote:
>> Aviation Week published a condensed but very detailed version of the Official
>> Accident Report,


>>  There were photos
>> of pieces including the "load relief cylinder"which is something like a shock
>> absorber in the stabilator control system for smoothing out rough air
>> transients, which on Lead's aircraft was sheared off fully extended but were
>> found  fully retracted (normal position) on the other three aircraft.
>> Estimating the huge pull force required to fully extend the cylinder was how
>> they determined Lead had both hands on the stick.

You are right that all Thunderbird practices and shows are video taped
for team debrief and analysis.

The accident report was very controversial. As the only TAC unit other
than the 'Birds flying the T-38, the 479th TFW at Holloman was tasked
to supply both the Flying Safety Officer member and Pilot member to
the accident investigation board. Both pilots were out of my unit, the
435th TFTS.

The initial report of the board was a finding of pilot error. The lead
aircraft had topped out on the loop at an altitude below the minimum
required to insure a safe recovery. Failure to recognize the altitude
and continuation of the maneuver to the pull through meant that after
reaching about 60 degrees nose low inverted, the formation was in a
position from which recovery was no longer possible.

There was evidence reported that the control stick and linkages were
deformed probably due to pilot effort to pull through at whatever G
was available.

When the report was submitted, General Creech returned it and
reconvened the board with the statement that "Thunderbirds do not
commit pilot errors." Command guidance was to come up with another

That was when the "shock absorber" was invented as the culprit. What
made the report a laughingstock for T-38 pilots (although acceptable
to Gen. Creech and the general public) was the fact that with 160
AT-38B aircraft on the ramp at Holloman, with at least 1000
maintainers and more than 200 Talon IPs on the base and with more than
20 years experience operating the airplane for the USAF, no one had
ever before heard of the "shock absorber" and no one could find any
reference to such a gadget in the control system schematics.

 Ed Rasimus                   *** Peak Computing Magazine
  Fighter Pilot (ret)         ***   (
                              *** Ziff-Davis Interactive
                              ***   (

From: (Ed Rasimus)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: diamond crash
Date: Wed, 19 Aug 1998 20:25:14 GMT

"Grady L. Rockett" <> wrote:

>I was stationed at Nellis at that time assigned as
>a pilot with the 64th Aggressor Squadron.  Norm
>Lowery, Thunderbird Lead, was a friend of mine.
>That said, I and every other pilot at Nellis knew
>the truth - Norm screwed up.  One member of the
>investigation team was a former Thunderbird who
>wrote a dissenting report that said, in essence,
>Norm screwed up.  Creech quashed it.
I flew F-4s with Norm out of Torrejon during the late '70s. I was Ops
Officer of the 613th TFS, and Norm was operating down the street in
the 614th.

He was a good guy and a good fighter pilot. He went from TJ to an
exchange posting with the RAF to Luechars to fly Lightnings.

But, you're absolutely right on the "screwed up" part. We all do/did
with some varying degrees of regularity.

 Ed Rasimus                   *** Peak Computing Magazine
  Fighter Pilot (ret)         ***   (
                              *** Ziff-Davis Interactive
                              ***   (

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