LOST PROP AT OTIS AFB
January 5, 1963
contributed courtesy of Charles Stallsmith who was the radio operator on the flight in question. He was in the 961st March 1960 to December 1963.
FALMOUTH, Jan. 5—The RC-121 Super-constellation that lost one of its four propellers during a routine surveillance mission Wednesday almost dumped it on one of its former crewmen. The propeller came within a whisker of landing on the house of an Air Force sergeant who had flown many missions in the very same aircraft, Otis Air Force Base officials discovered yesterday. The 800-pound, three bladed propeller was spotted yesterday by an Otis-based Helicopter crew behind a cluster of buildings on Pinecrest Beach DR. The buildings were thought to be unoccupied.
When base maintenance and re-pair crews arrived on the scene yesterday they found, to their surprise, that the home nearest the propeller was occupied by the family of Technical Sergeant Norman H. Nash of the 962d Airborne Early Warning and Control Squadron. Further checking by base officials determined that Nash had flown in the plane as a flight engineer. The Nash family was just preparing for supper Wednesday when, in Mrs. Nash's words, "We heard a thud and I thought one of the children had fallen." However she found both Pauline 6, and Leonard 3, were in fine shape and hadn't done anything that could be associated with the thud.
Never Dawned on Her
Yesterday morning, Mrs. Nash glanced out the bedroom window and saw an object sticking out the ground some 60 yards away from the house. "I thought it was a piece of pipe or something. It never dawned on me that it could he the propeller they were looking for," she said. A little later, an airman knocked at the door and informed Mrs. Nash that the object, indeed, was a propeller ... the missing one. The Air Force planned to re-move the propeller as soon as the necessary equipment could be brought from the base hut in the meantime; an air policeman was left at the site to keep away the curious.
Returning to Otis
Sergeant Nash, a native of Greenfield, is assigned to the 551st Wing Ground Training unit as an instructor but is also a flight engineer with the 962d group. Mrs. Nash is the former Ruth J. Nickerson of Dedham. The Super constellation, piloted by 1st Lieutenant Stephen A. Hamer, was returning to Otis when the aircraft's instruments gave the first indication that something untoward had occurred. Despite the loss of the propeller, the plane landed at Otis without mishap. Base officials were in the process of preparing a flyer advertising a reward for the finder of the missing propeller when it was spotted by the helicopter crew. Two of the propeller blades were totally imbedded in the ground from the force of its fall. The propeller is 15 feet from tip to-tip and each blade is four inches wide at its hub, Otis officials said.
Landing Completed Without Mishap
OTIS AIR FORCE BASE, Jan. 3—An RC-121 early warning air-craft of the 961st Airborne Early Warning and Control Squadron re-turning from a surveillance mission late yesterday landed at Otis minus a propeller. The aircraft, piloted by1st Lieutenant Stephen A. Hamer, lost the propeller while making a routine instrument approach. There was no damage to the aircraft and the landing was made with-out incident. Lieutenant Hamer said there had been no indication of the mishap prior to the propeller shearing from the engine. As the propeller spun off, added RPMs and a decrease in manifold pressure gave warning of the freak occurrence. Crew members later said the prop dropped straight down. The approach area where the propeller dropped off encompasses Spectacle Pond and is approximately three miles from the runway. Otis helicopters today searched the area for the propeller so that an investigation could begin.