Created: 2/18/1972

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible


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Onir America,rewsd by PIC C. L.


appeared whileargo flight to Ban Xieng Loaaos. Noinformation has been received since of either aircrew or aircraft and it Bust be presuoed both are lost.

1.1 Historr of Flight

Between0 on1 the fligit crew forconsisting of PIC C. L.. R. F. Tounley, AFS E. ported to tho Air Araerica,

Flight Operations Section at Udorn RTAFB for briefing. The early briefing was requiredunctional Check Flight (FCF) prior to release for operations. The right propeller had been changed on1 and the aircraft required an FCF.

"he crew was briefedlthat they would work ait of Peppergrinder (PPG) after the FCF. PPG work primarily, consists of loading and dispatching nixed ordnance for up-country sites.

The Sonior Operations Specialist, Mr. S. J. Wilson, in the Flight Inforsation Center (FlC/Utfi) was able to ascertain that he personally

17 aTT tijoes hersin, unless otherwise noted, are local baaed on thehour clock.

had briefed the aircrew and believes the briefing was actually given to the PIC, Captain Bitter. The briefing waa general and covered tho normal PPG missions. It included tho current tactical situation at i,ajor airfields andommonly used Drop Zonesho situation in theroa was included since thisrequent destination for PPG flights. Captain Rltter should have been familiar with tha tactical situation nearinco ho had flown the same route onome two days prior to the mishap. eneral briefing was necessitated since tho actual destination would not be known until assigned by PPG, The aircrew acknowledged tha briofing and was duly signed off on the daily flight schodulcormal procedure of the FIC briefer).

Tho aircrew signed for the aircraft/nission and departed to the aircraft. It may bo presumed the aircrew reviewed tho posted weather, including that ofrior to departure. Evidently, the ground run was satisfactory38hort FCF, landing The aircraft checked normally and tho PIC radioed its "OK" condition to the Senior Operations Manager (KM). Keirectly to tho PPG. The FCFere taken with tho aircraft to thoot infrequent minor discrepancy which probably did not influence the subsequent mishap.

At PPG. the aircraft was loaded2 pounds of mixodm shells, Slcnaliber .ssall^arms aiomunition and white phosphorous ssokc rounds. This, plus whatever fuel remained from tho0 gallon load brought tho aircraft eloao to its maximum allowable woight0 poundsWeight and Balance Section).


ndave boon conjoined to one site now called It is' clay /latorite strip with an on-call non-directional beacon. Evidently this beacon was not functioning0 on The surrounding terrain, both north and south, is heavily populated with enemy forces.

and Rescue

The Search and Rescue (SAH) effort was conducted out of the VTE station and consisted largely of Air America, Inc. aircraft. etailed log of search efforts is available at AAM, Inc. VTE if required. For various reasons, the USAF could only offer limited assistance. ircraft did search late the first day but the bulk of their assistance was through radio relay frees control aircraft.

ew breaks due to weather and one false leadative claiming to have seen an aircraft, the SAR continued All efforts to find tracesere unsuccessful.

s Due to the extreme hostility of the area, several AAM, Inc. aircraft received battle damage while on the SAR. Due to the proximity of the hostilehe SAR was rather constricted in nature. Tho final effort consisted of dropping leaflets offering rewards for information and/or the aircrew. The SAR, although late in starting, was as thorough as terrain, the weather and the oneay would perxit. Further air search was dee=ed fruitless


Very littleositive, nature can be said of tho final flightince its location is still undetermined. However, from statements of the pilots ofK aircraft, an analysis of weather, the cargo, and the current tactical situation in andheeasonable conclusion can be reached.

Based on the computed crosswinds's reported altitude, it was likelyto the right of his desired track earcute out8 andigher than normal ground speed. The pilot, Captain Ritter, although supposedly well familiar with the route, was likely flying an inadequate crosswind correction heading in ond out of cloud bases- This could have placed him to'tha right3 and, later, well to the right and beyondince no navigational aids werealley, similar to that ofs present just to thoofnd close to. An off-track course to the right could have explained Captain Ritter's apparent concern over Ths weather although both of the other two Captains were flying at the same reported altitude but in relatively good weather conditions. Had Captain Ritter been to the northeast of his reported position atndescending left turn towardshe enemy reaction over Routeould be iismediate and violent, large anti-aircraft guns are onlyiles north of With?he aircraft,ould well ba imagined that no time for radio calls was available. The SAR effort could not be extended into the Routoarea.

Several other possibilities in the causal areas include maintenance malfunctions, loot, hijack,ut all are even more unlikely than enemy action and vould probably have precipitated scrae radiohe likelihooderely crashing in the weatheremote possibility if ho were well off-track to theay with anheading indicator but, again, soma radio calls should have been made. ossibilitylew up from on internal explosion is present but was not considered likely. Flight in and out of clouds whileisual clearance is an operational requirement and was not, by itself,actor in this mishap.

In suDJ&ary, although the cause of the disappearanceust be lilted as undetermined, the aircraft probably strayed from course and, over exceedingly hostile country, was hit by enemy fire and rapidly dostroyed.

2.2 Conclusions a.

(lj The crew was properly certificated.

The aircraft was generally properly maintained in accordance with Cccpany/Custcccr procedures and standards.

Tho aircraft was probably correctly loaded and dispatched from PPG.

(O At the time of the flight towardshe wind3 were relatively strong and free the southwest.

ecame overdue at0 on

An erroneous report of tho aircraft landing atisled the Flight Watches into non/late notification of an overdue aircraft.

Original document.

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