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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 169577
Last updated: 21 January 2022
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Date:10-MAY-1972
Time:20:45 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic T38 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Northrop T-38A Talon
Owner/operator:NASA
Registration: 69-7086
MSN:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Bergstrom Air Force Base, TX -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Nature:Unknown
Departure airport:Dobbins Air Force Base, Marietta, Georgia.
Destination airport:Ellington Air Force Base, Texas
Narrative:
Astronaut Charles (Pete) Conrad Jr., ejected safely from a T-38 jet aircraft while attempting an emergency landing at Bergstrom Air Force Base near Austin, Texas tonight at about 8:45 p.m. CDT.
Conrad, a veteran of three space flights and commander of the first Skylab mission in 1973, parachuted to safety, landing about 100 yards from the base operations building at Bergstrom. The two-seat jet aircraft crashed in an open field about two miles from the base, remote from any residential area.

Conrad was returning to Ellington Air Force Base near the Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston, after visiting the ILC Industries facility in Dover, Delaware earlier today. ILC is the manufacturer of space suits for NASA's manned missions. Conrad flew first from Dover to Dobbins Air Force Base, Marietta, Georgia.

The flight from Dobbins to Ellington was diverted to Bergstrom, about 160 miles west northwest of Houston, because of unsatisfactory weather conditions in the Houston area.

Conrad, a Navy captain,was taken to the USAF hospital at Bergstrom for a routine examination and returned to Houston later in the evening.
On May 11 release 72-100 appointed a board of investigation:
Astronaut Stuart A. Roosa today was named chairman of the MSC board which will investigate the cause of last night's aircraft accident in which Astronaut Charles Conrad, Jr. parachuted to safety at Bergstrom Air Force Base, Austin, Texas.
Other board members are: Astronaut Henry W. Hartsfield, Jr., Kenneth Thompson, Quality Assurance Branch, Aircraft Operations Division, Frank Marlow, Pilots Branch, Aircraft Operations Division and Dr. Charles Ross, Flight Medicine Branch, Medical Operations Division.
And the board's report was covered in release 73-91 on July 3, 1973:
An electrical malfunction causing loss of instruments in severe weather was the major factor in an aircraft accident May 10, 1972, involving Astronaut Charles Conrad, Jr., an investigation board has determined.
Conrad, a Navy captain, ejected safely from a T-38 jet aircraft over Bergstrom Air Force Base near Austin, Texas. The aircraft was destroyed.

Conrad was in the final phase of an approach to Ellington AFB near Houston when he was advised the field was below minimums. He was then given radar vectors to William P. Hobby Airport in Houston, which was still open for landings.

At 800 feet altitude on his final approach to Hobby in darkness and in heavy rain and lightning, an electrical failure in the generator system caused the loss of cockpit lightning and partial loss of navigation instruments. Conrad aborted the approach and attempted to climb above the weather. The generator was subsequently brought back on line, and he regained cockpit lighting.

Because of the electrical problem, Conrad requested radar to an airport operating under visual flight rules, and he was vectored toward Randolph AFB, San Antonio. When it became apparent that he did not have enough fuel to reach Randolph, he was directed toward Bergstrom AFB.

The aircraft ran out of fuel just after Captain Conrad reached Bergstrom, and he ejected at 3700 feet.

The investigation board determined that a printed circuit card was not adequately protected from moisture and likely was the cause of a short circuit and disconnect of the left generator during the approach to Hobby. The card is part of the voltage regulator and protection circuit that switches the electrical load to the opposite generator when one of them goes off line.

The board recommended that the routing of cooling air for electrical components be modified to exclude water when flying in rain. The implementation of this recommended modification is currently being evaluated.

The accident investigation board was chaired by NASA Astronaut Stuart A. Roosa.

Sources:

http://web.archive.org/web/20171126074757/http://www.ejection-history.org.uk:80/Aircraft_by_Type/t_38_talon.htm
https://www.nasa.gov/centers/johnson/news/releases/1972_1974/index.html


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
06-Sep-2014 16:39 Aerossurance Added
13-Jan-2022 18:09 TB Updated [Location]

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