April 05, 2005

Difficult

This has been sitting in my inbox for a few weeks now, not out of neglect or indifference, but because these posts are so damned hard to do. Even after all these years.

I wasn't "on the scene", but I was dealing with several wives who's husbands were. I had several airmen (generic term includes women too) who worked for me, there that day doing crowd and traffic control.

Gordon Tatro, who has generously shared his reconstruction and photographs of the aftermath, passes along this link to a new website posted by Roland Fuchs, a German gentleman who lost his wife and 5 year old daughter at the Ramstein Flugtag that day. Included on the site are photos of his family, the day itself, the actual crashes, and the monument and memorial that have since been erected to honor those who died. This photograph shows clearly the list of names of the Flugtag casualties, and underscores just how many young victims there were.

I still receive email and comments about Flugtag, and I'd like to thank Gordon, Roland and the many others who've shared their experiences from that day. May everyone find peace.

Posted by Ted at 04:19 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 25, 2004

Flugtag '88 Update

More photos of the actual mid-air collision.

Posted by Ted at 08:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 23, 2004

Frecce Tricolori - the Italian Precision Flying Team

These guys are the Italian version of the Blue Angels, Thunderbirds, or Red Arrows. But whereas the Angels and such are known for precise machine-like maneuvers, the Italians have flair and panache.

On this page, maneuver #5 is the closest to the 'Pierced Heart' routine which resulted in the disaster at Flugtag. The difference being that the solo plane which breaks from the pack at the top of the split is shown flying off to the left. In the 'Pierced Heart', this plane did the same arc as the rest of the planes, but heading directly away from the crowd. As he came down towards the meet with the rest of the planes, he crossed over the top of the other nine planes and flew directly over the crowd at low altitude. Pretty spectacular.

At Flugtag, that aircraft clipped two of the other planes and broke apart, plowing into the spectators in a giant fireball.

The same modified maneuver is titled "Big Apple (figure 3)", and no mention is made of the "Pierced Heart" routine.

You can see all of the related Flugtag posts here.

Posted by Ted at 06:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 22, 2004

Ramstein Flugtag '88

Introduction

I first mentioned the Flugtag Airshow disaster here, and have had three military guys who were on the scene find Rocket Jones via Google searches.

I've been doing further research on it, and have discovered that it's still discussed occasionally on internet Newsgroups. I've seen posts in German, Polish, Italian and English in various places. There is even a Yahoo group devoted to the disaster and those affected by it.

I'm hoping to build a web page dedicated to Flugtag, but until I get time to do that, I'm going to post gathered information here. Check the extended entry, and I'll announce updates as they happen.

There are a lot of links I have to put in, so things will be tweaked and added for a while.

If you're a new visitor to Rocket Jones, you can click on the link immediately below ("Light this candle...") to see the rest of this article. You can also click on the little "Flugtag '88" link at the very bottom of this post to see all Flugtag-related articles.

What is Flugtag?

Flugtag, German for "flight day", was the name of the Ramstein AB 'open house'. Like many military bases, they would hold an annual event where the local community is invited to see what goes on. Grand Forks AFB called their's "Friends and Neighbors Day", and I'm sure other bases have catchy little names. There are displays of military equipment (aircraft and tanks and such), and like many of these events, an air show is part of the fun. The air shows feature unusual aircraft (Harrier jump jets doing their hovering act or a helicopter acrobatic team*) and flybys. There might be a demonstration from a precision parachute jumping team. Flugtag was a huge event, and planning for the following year began immediately after the end of one.

In 1988 the Italian acrobatic team Frecce TriColori was scheduled to perform at Flugtag. They had a reputation for putting on a dashing and daring performance.

*I seem to recall a Canadian Precision Helicopter Team called the Dragonflies, but Google doesn't turn up any information. The closest I found was a Dutch team called the Grasshoppers, and even that was scant info.

The Area

The rest of this is from memory as of the mid-1980's. If you know something has changed, please let me know and I'll make note of it.

Ramstein AB is the headquarters for US Air Forces, Europe (USAFE). It's a large base, and there are units from the US Army, and various NATO countries have troops stationed there as well.

Located in the German state of Rhineland-Phalz, in the city of Kaiserslautern (literally: Kaiser's Hunting Lodge), the area boasts the world's largest concentration of Americans not living on US soil. There are lots of little villages and towns dotting the immediate area, and many military installations (Sembach, Einsiedlerhof, Vogelweh, Kapaun, various French kasernes and the US Army Regional Medical Center at Landstuhl).

What Happened?

Briefly, three Italian aircraft collided, and one was headed directly at the crowd watching their performance. This plane plowed into the audience in a gigantic fireball.

This is a photo of the scene as it happened.

A crowd estimated at over 100,000 was at Ramstein that day for the airshow. According to the Ramstein Flugtag '88 Memorial page, there were 70 dead that day and 450 injured.

Posted by Ted at 01:58 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Crash Site Map

This excellent diagram provided by Gordon Tatro.

(in the extended entry)

Diagram copyright 2004, Gordon Tatro. All permissions granted for non-commercial use.

CrashMap-jpg.JPG

Posted by Ted at 01:55 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Crash Site Pictures - 1

These are the first three of 21 pictures taken and scanned by Gordon Tatro. For an overview of the crash scene and picture orientation, see the crash site map.

(pictures in the extended entry)

All pictures copyright 2004, Gordon Tatro. All permissions granted for non-commercial use.

01-jpg.JPG

02-jpg.JPG

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Posted by Ted at 01:54 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Crash Site Pictures - 2

These are the second set of three of 21 pictures taken and scanned by Gordon Tatro. For an overview of the crash scene and picture orientation, see the crash site map.

(pictures in the extended entry)

All pictures copyright 2004, Gordon Tatro. All permissions granted for non-commercial use.

04-jpg.JPG

05-jpg.JPG

06-jpg.JPG

Posted by Ted at 01:52 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Crash Site Pictures - 3

These are the third set of three of 21 pictures taken and scanned by Gordon Tatro. For an overview of the crash scene and picture orientation, see the crash site map.

(pictures in the extended entry)

All pictures copyright 2004, Gordon Tatro. All permissions granted for non-commercial use.

09-jpg.JPG

10-jpg.JPG

12-jpg.JPG

Posted by Ted at 01:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Crash Site Pictures - 4

These are the fourth set of three of 21 pictures taken and scanned by Gordon Tatro. For an overview of the crash scene and picture orientation, see the crash site map.

(pictures in the extended entry)

All pictures copyright 2004, Gordon Tatro. All permissions granted for non-commercial use.

13-jpg.JPG

14-jpg.JPG

15-jpg.JPG

Posted by Ted at 01:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Crash Site Pictures - 5

These are the fifth set of three of 21 pictures taken and scanned by Gordon Tatro. For an overview of the crash scene and picture orientation, see the crash site map.

(pictures in the extended entry)

All pictures copyright 2004, Gordon Tatro. All permissions granted for non-commercial use.

16-jpg.JPG

17-jpg.JPG

18-jpg.JPG

Posted by Ted at 01:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Crash Site Pictures - 6

These are the sixth set of three of 21 pictures taken and scanned by Gordon Tatro. For an overview of the crash scene and picture orientation, see the crash site map.

(pictures in the extended entry)

All pictures copyright 2004, Gordon Tatro. All permissions granted for non-commercial use.

19-jpg.JPG

20-jpg.JPG

21-jpg.jpg

Posted by Ted at 01:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Crash Site Pictures - 7

These are the seventh and final set of three of 21 pictures taken and scanned by Gordon Tatro. For an overview of the crash scene and picture orientation, see the crash site map.

(pictures in the extended entry)

All pictures copyright 2004, Gordon Tatro. All permissions granted for non-commercial use.

22-jpg.JPG

23-jpg.JPG

24-jpg.JPG

Posted by Ted at 01:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Flugtag Airshow Disaster Links

The Ramstein Flugtag Memorial pages. Check out their links page for many more resources.

The Flugtag88 Yahoo Group.

A Psyche debrief from the American Psychiatric Association, titled Debriefing Following Trauma. The Ramstein Flugtag is used as a case study in post-trauma counselling.

A Christian relates 3 stories about God in his life, one of which is related to the Flugtag Airshow.

Posted by Ted at 01:32 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

More Flugtag photos

Courtesy of Airliners.net, links to photographs of the actual mid-air collision and results. Thanks to Gordon Tatro for locating these.

Note: Clicking the below links will take you to Airliners.net. If you see a picture of a passenger jet head on, click your browser refresh button. Use your browser Back button to return here.

The solo pilot tried to avoid a crash against the control tower by pulling over the two groups. Instead he crashed into them.

The solo pilot's #10 plane arcs along its fateful path towards the crowd as the leader and a wingman impact on the far side of the runway.

The Frecce Tricolore solo display aircraft, still moving directly towards the crowd at show center.

Posted by Ted at 01:22 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 11, 2004

Airshow related - Flugtag 88

Back in September I wrote a little bit about the Flugtag airshow disaster at Ramstein AB, Germany, and since then I've had the privilege of giving my personal thanks to two of the men who were on the scene and helping out under overwhelming circumstances.

Please follow that link and check out the comments. Regular people doing extraordinary things because it's what needs to be done.

About the Google Bait from yesterday: I get the occasional hit from someone searching on 'Flugtag', which is how those two gentlemen found Rocket Jones, so by putting up a couple organization designations and places from my Air Force days, maybe someone I knew back when will stumble across the site and say hi.

Posted by Ted at 07:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 15, 2003

Air Shows

Fellow Munuvian Stevie went to an airshow yesterday and had a great time.

We've recently been hearing about the annual Oshkosh Airshow up in Wisconsin. Some rocket buddies of mine live up in that area and get to see it every year. It sounds great. My favorites are the biplane originally built in 1937 and modified to fly with a Lear-jet engine slung underneath, and the grand finale - the Wall of Fire. Basically, they simulate a bomb drop by overflying warbirds. The wall is mile long and reaches the height of a three story building. Neat (if you like smoke and fire and I do)!

Not all the Airshow news was good though:

Thunderbird Jet crashes at Idaho Airshow
Mountain Home Air Force Base - 85-THOUSAND PEOPLE WATCH AS AN AIR FORCE THUNDERBIRD CRASHES INTO A FIERY BALL OF FLAMES IN MOUNTAIN HOME AND THE PILOT WALKS AWAY.
A F-16-C AIRCRAFT PLUNGES TO THE GROUND SUNDAY AFTERNOON JUST AFTER 3 PM.
THE CRASH HAPPENED AT MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE'S "GUNFIGHTER SKIES 2003" AIRSHOW.
PILOT CAPTAIN CHRIS STRICKLIN DID EJECT SAFELY, HE REPORTEDLY STOOD UP AND WAVED TO THE CROWD, BUT AIR FORCE OFFICIALS WON'T SAY ANYTHING ABOUT HIS CONDITION.
WITNESSES SAY THE JET WAS THE LAST OF THE SIX TO TAKE OFF, IT CLIMBED IN THE SKY, STRICKLIN EXECUTED A BARREL ROLL, BUT WHILE UPSIDE DOWN THE JET STARTED TO DIVE.
IT APPARENTLY HAD ENGINE FAILURE.

The amazing part of that story is that the pilot stood up and waved to the crowd, because you can't imagine how violent an airplane ejection can be. If nothing else, today he feels like the entire NFL used him for tackle dummy practice.

I saw the video of the crash, and he did a fine job keeping the aircraft under control. Something you may have noticed is that the crash happened parallel to the crowd.

I believe that it's a requirement of U.S. airshows (at least) that the aircraft do not fly over the crowd. It's been that way since the Flugtag Airshow disaster in 1988. Three Italian aircraft clipped each other during their performance and one crashed into the watching spectators. We were stationed at Ramstein AB at the time, and some of my people were on the ground near where the plane impacted. My kids and I weren't there, because we had watched the practice the day before, and went to a carnival instead. My son's teacher was severely burned, and we had neighbors who were killed. My kids had nightmares for years about that, and to this day we haven't gone to another airshow.

Airshows are cool, but the danger is there, and when things go wrong they can go spectacularly wrong in a hurry.

Posted by Ted at 07:58 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Air Shows

Fellow Munuvian Stevie went to an airshow yesterday and had a great time.

We've recently been hearing about the annual Oshkosh Airshow up in Wisconsin. Some rocket buddies of mine live up in that area and get to see it every year. It sounds great. My favorites are the biplane originally built in 1937 and modified to fly with a Lear-jet engine slung underneath, and the grand finale - the Wall of Fire. Basically, they simulate a bomb drop by overflying warbirds. The wall is mile long and reaches the height of a three story building. Neat (if you like smoke and fire and I do)!

Not all the Airshow news was good though:

Thunderbird Jet crashes at Idaho Airshow
Mountain Home Air Force Base - 85-THOUSAND PEOPLE WATCH AS AN AIR FORCE THUNDERBIRD CRASHES INTO A FIERY BALL OF FLAMES IN MOUNTAIN HOME AND THE PILOT WALKS AWAY.
A F-16-C AIRCRAFT PLUNGES TO THE GROUND SUNDAY AFTERNOON JUST AFTER 3 PM.
THE CRASH HAPPENED AT MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE'S "GUNFIGHTER SKIES 2003" AIRSHOW.
PILOT CAPTAIN CHRIS STRICKLIN DID EJECT SAFELY, HE REPORTEDLY STOOD UP AND WAVED TO THE CROWD, BUT AIR FORCE OFFICIALS WON'T SAY ANYTHING ABOUT HIS CONDITION.
WITNESSES SAY THE JET WAS THE LAST OF THE SIX TO TAKE OFF, IT CLIMBED IN THE SKY, STRICKLIN EXECUTED A BARREL ROLL, BUT WHILE UPSIDE DOWN THE JET STARTED TO DIVE.
IT APPARENTLY HAD ENGINE FAILURE.

The amazing part of that story is that the pilot stood up and waved to the crowd, because you can't imagine how violent an airplane ejection can be. If nothing else, today he feels like the entire NFL used him for tackle dummy practice.

I saw the video of the crash, and he did a fine job keeping the aircraft under control. Something you may have noticed is that the crash happened parallel to the crowd.

I believe that it's a requirement of U.S. airshows (at least) that the aircraft do not fly over the crowd. It's been that way since the Flugtag Airshow disaster in 1988. Three Italian aircraft clipped each other during their performance and one crashed into the watching spectators. We were stationed at Ramstein AB at the time, and some of my people were on the ground near where the plane impacted. My kids and I weren't there, because we had watched the practice the day before, and went to a carnival instead. My son's teacher was severely burned, and we had neighbors who were killed. My kids had nightmares for years about that, and to this day we haven't gone to another airshow.

Airshows are cool, but the danger is there, and when things go wrong they can go spectacularly wrong in a hurry.

Posted by Ted at 07:58 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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