Stories from around the country about Navy fighter jet mishaps,
and complaints of military jet training in other area.


FALLON, Nev., Feb 04, 2001 (AP Online via COMTEX) -- A blur of sagebrush, along what's called the loneliest road in America, leads to this small farming and military town that boasts of its simpler way of life. A barber is giving $9 haircuts and there's talk of the annual Hearts O' Gold Cantaloupe Festival.

But soon, the talk turns to the children. To 11 kids, all stricken with leukemia that some fear might have something to do with living in the self-proclaimed "Oasis of Nevada."

For 5-year-old Dustin Gross, it started like the flu. Then came the bruises, and his lips turned translucent.

"You can see it in his eyes," Dustin's father says. "When they really start turning dark."

Acute lymphocytic leukemia is the most common childhood cancer, but still rare.

Just 2,000 new cases are diagnosed annually in the entire United States.

What puzzles people is that 11 of those cases since 1997 have been in and around Fallon, a town of 8,300. Eight cases were diagnosed last year.

This is a cluster, the state health department says. A chance occurrence, perhaps? Or something else that may never be known. The uncertainty has forced the state to ask for help from national experts.

While they look for answers, the residents worry. Mayor Ken Tedford Jr. has lived in Fallon, 60 miles east of Reno, his whole life. His granddaddy was mayor, and his uncle too. "We're just kind of a small town," the mayor says. "People worry about each other a lot."

At the downtown Ideal Barber Shop, which doubles as a motorcycle parts shop, former police officer Lyndell Smiley mentions the water as he talks of the kids


Fallon, Nev. -- A Navy fighter jet on a routine air-to-air training mission crashed in the Nevada desert Aug. 24 near Fallon Naval Air Station.

The two-seater, FA-18D Hornet went down near Bravo 20 bombing range about 35 miles northeast of the base.

Both pilots ejected from the aircraft. Lt. Ty Loutzenheiser suffered minor bruises, and instructor pilot Lt. Norman Weakland suffered a fractured vertebra and is expected to make a full recovery, a Navy spokesman said.

The aircraft was assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 125 at Lemoore, Calif., the West Coast fleet replacement squadron that maintains a permanent staff at Fallon.


Source: Navy Times, 01/22/2001, Vol. 50 Issue 16, p3, 1/8p

Abstract: Highlights an investigation into the cause of leukemia in children in Nevada. Responsibility of the Fallon Naval Air Station for the spread of leukemia; Diagnosis of leukemia.



Nevada health officials, searching for clues as to what's been causing leukemia in children, are turning their attention to Fallon Naval Air Station, the Las Vegas Sun reported Jan. 9.

Nine cases of the disease were diagnosed between 1996 and last year, 150 times the expected rate.

The Sun story said state officials noted that the Naval Strike Warfare Center joined the Top Gun and Top Dome training activities at Fallonin 1996. The Navy has acknowledged in public hearings that some of the aircraft involved in that training have dumped fuel over vast tracts of rural north-central Nevada.

"We don't feel we have a finger to point at the Navy at this time,"

Todd was quoted in the Sun. "We have not asked for a record review, but clearly we have to be looking at naval activities."



Title: Aviator dies in Nevada F-5E crash. Subject(s): RYON, Richard -- Death & burial; AIRPLANES, Military -- Accidents -- Nevada
Source: Navy Times, 2/19/96, Vol. 45 Issue 20, p2, 1/9p


WASHINGTON -- The body of a Navy pilot who ejected from an F-5E Tiger jet aircraft before it crashed in Nevada was recovered Feb. 8 by a Navy search-and-rescue crew.

Lt. Cmdr. Richard T. Ryon, 36, of McLean, Va., was assigned to Composite Fighter Squadron 13's advance team in Fallon, Nev., located about 65 miles east of Reno, in anticipation of the squadron's move this spring from Naval Air Station Miramar, Calif.

Ryon's plane crashed into mountainous terrain about 60 miles northeast of Fallon, officials said.

Reports from Fallon said the pilot was participating in a routine training mission. His squadron is taking over the job of imitating enemy aircraft at Fallon from Strike Fighter Squadron 127, which is being decommissioned.

Ryon is survived by his wife and two daughters. The accident is under investigation.




FALLON, Nev. -- A military watchdog group has criticized the Bureau of Land Management's handling of a Navy request to install four new electronic warfare sites in central Nevada.

Grace Potorti, executive director of the Reno-based Rural Alliance for Military Accountability, said the public suffers from the BLM's decision to process the Navy's request as a right-of-way issue rather than as a proposal to devote more public land to Navy use.

"If the BLM continues to allow the electronic warfare sites outside of Dixie Valley through a right-of-way process instead of ways that have public input and oversight, the public is cut out of the decision," she said.

In February, at the urging of groups like the Sierra Club and People For the West, which have been at odds on other public land issues, the BLM rejected the Navy's plans to withdraw more public land for the warfare sites.

At the time, BLM officials said they were forced to draw a line after years of allowing the Fallon Naval Air Station to take over more public land in Nevada.

But under the latest plan, the BLM would designate 4,000 acres of public land in five locations for the warfare sites.

Another 4.6 million acres could be available to the sites, but 640,000 acres would be closed out of concern for the environment.

"Four sites in 4,000 acres or four sites in 5 million acres is not a very big impact upon the land," Fallon base spokeswoman Anne McMillin said, adding federal law mandates environmental documentation.

The warfare stations simulate enemy surface-to-air missile bases, and are used by Navy pilots during training exercises. With the radar sites would come support structures, such as roads.

BLM State Director Bob Abbey has asked Navy officials to provide a comprehensive plan that addresses the management of all Navy facilities affecting public lands in central Nevada.

"Nevadans should raise their voices and stir up on this," Potorti said. "The public should be included in this decision. It's not over yet."

Associated Press




FALLON Nev.--Two telephone company workers were narrowly missed by gunfire from a Navy fighter jet Oct. 29 when the pilot accidentally opened fire on the observation tower they were working near.

Anne McMillin, Fallon Naval Air Station spokeswoman, said the pilot may have mistaken the tower for his assigned target during a training exercise.

The tower is located on the Navy's Bravo 20 aviation training range, 35 miles north of Fallon.

The tower was hit by 20 mm bullets. A piece of metal from the structure fell and dented a camper shell on the workers' pickup, but the workers were not injured.

The pilot is an aviation student assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 125, based at Lemoore, in California's Central Valley. His name wasn't released.

Churchill County telephone worker Leonard Travis was working on a phone mounted on a fence that surrounds the tower when the inadvertent attack occurred.

"It happened so fast, we didn't have time to be worried about it,"

Travis said. "Only afterward, you imagine what could have happened. It wasn't important."

His partner, Clark Skinner, said he had no ill feelings against the Navy.

"Nobody was hurt and I don't want to blast the Navy about it. it's no big thing," he said.

But the director of a military watchdog group said the incident reflects a serious problem.

"Civilians are out there doing work and jets are strafing? What kind of controls do they have out there.?" asked Grace Potorti, of the Rural Alliance for Military Accountability.

"This goes along with the sonic booms . . . and the Navy's inability to stay within their operations areas, she said. "They can't control their people and they continue to prove that . . . They hot-dog out there all the time."




President offers prayer for those killed in helicopter collision in Hawaii With US-Helicopter Crash, Japan-Submarine Collision

NORFOLK, Virginia, Feb 13, 2001 (AP WorldStream via COMTEX) -- President

George W. Bush led U.S. service men and women Tuesday in a moment of silent prayer for Army personnel killed and injured in the nighttime crash of two Army Black Hawk helicopters over Hawaii.

"Just this morning, we were reminded of the risks of your duty and the sacrifices that you make," Bush told a gathering of Navy and Defense Department personnel at headquarters for the Allied Command Atlantic, U.S. Joint Forces Command.

Title: Aviator dies in Nevada F-5E crash.

Subject(s): RYON, Richard -- Death & burial; AIRPLANES, Military -- Accidents -- Nevada Source: Navy Times, 2/19/96, Vol. 45 Issue 20, p2, 1/9p Abstract: Reports on the death of Navy pilot Lieutenant Commodore Richard T. Ryon when an F-5E Tiger jet aircraft he was flying crashed in Nevada. Ryon's participation in routine training mission; Investigation of crash in mountainous terrain in Fallon.


Training Jet Crash Kills 2 At Patuxent Naval Station; Victims Were Students at Base's Elite Aviation School

The Washington Post

Jul 12, 2000



FALLON, Nev. -- A California man has asked the Navy Inspector General to investigate what he termed "purposeful gross misrepresentation of fact" by Fallon Naval Air Station officials in pursuing expansion plans for Nevada.

Earl Crockett of Santa Cruz, who filed the request for the probe, contends Navy personnel aren't leveling about their electronic-warfare and airspace expansion plans for central Nevada.

He said he's concerned because Navy plans could degrade the quality of life for Nevada residents and visitors alike. Vice Adm. Lee Gunn's office sent him a letter saying an inquiry would be conducted into his allegations.

Crockett claims the threat emitters Navy officials want to install across much of central Nevada would pose a health hazard because of electromagnetic waves and radiation they give off. But he said Navy officials deny they have any ill effects.

He charged that Navy officials have misled critics of the expansion plans and misrepresented public support for them.

A military watchdog group also has criticized the Fallon station for a refusal to reveal all its land withdrawal and airspace expansion plans for Nevada.

Rural Alliance for Military Accountability leaders have said they plan to file a lawsuit, in part to force the Fallon base to disclose all such plans.


Title: Mishaps at Fallon.

Subject(s): AIRCRAFT accidents -- Nevada; HORNET (Jet fighter plane); F-5E (Airplane)

Source: Naval Aviation News, Mar/Apr96, Vol. 78 Issue 3, p3, 2p

Abstract: Reports on aircraft accidents which occurred in January and February 1996 near the Naval Air Station (NAS) in Fallon City, Nevada.

Collision of two F/A-18 `Hornets' over the Desatoya Mountains; Crash of an F-5E `Tiger II' single-seat aircraft in the Clan Alpine mountains.

AN: 9604101211

ISSN: 0028-1417


Two F/A-18 Hornets-collided over the Desatoya Mountains about 50 miles northeast of NAS Fallon, Nev., on 17 January. Pilot Lt. Kevin Duggan was rescued by NAS Fallon search and rescue crews a few hours after the incident, and was treated for minor injuries at the base clinic and released. The other pilot, LCdr. William Braker, was killed. Both pilots were assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 22, NAS Lemoore, Calif., and were conducting routine training.

An F-SE Tiger II single-seat aircraft crashed in the Clan Alpine mountains 60 miles northeast of Fallon 8 February. The station's search and rescue helicopter was launched 10 minutes after the crash and located the pilot's remains shortly thereafter. LCdr. Richard Ryon of Fighter Squadron Composite 13, NAS Miramar, Calif., was flying one of Strike Fighter Squadron 127's F-5Es on a routine training mission.


For Immediate Release Thursday, January 18, 2001



WASHINGTON- In the wake of another report that a child developed pediatric leukemia while living in Fallon, Nevada Senator Harry Reid announced today he is dispatching top staff members from the Senate

Environment and Public Works Committee to the area to conduct a preliminary investigation into the reasons for the alarmingly high cluster of cases.

"I am concerned that while there is an identifiable pattern among these cases, we still have no answers for why there is such an unnaturally high rate of leukemia among children living in Fallon," Senator Reid said. "I am in a position to use the full resources of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and ultimately the federal government, to look for those answers."

Senator Reid will send Environment and Public Works Committee staff members including staff director Eric Washburn and an eco-toxicologist to Fallon to conduct preliminary interviews and gather information from state health officials, local residents and local government officials. The initial investigation will take place in mid-February with an EPW Committee field hearing scheduled to take place in Fallon sometime this Spring.

I am sending a group of highly qualified individuals to determine what environmental factors may be contributing to this suspected cancercluster and to gather the preliminary information for a full Environment and Public Works Committee Field Hearing," Reid said. ".I am determined to exhaust every resource available to get to the bottom of this tragedy,"

This newest diagnosis brings the total to eleven cases of acute lymphocytic leukemia in children under the age of 18 who have lived in Fallon.


Training Jet Crash Kills 2 At Patuxent Naval Station; Victims Were Students at Base's Elite Aviation School

The Washington Post

Washington, D.C.

Jul 12, 2000

Title: Mishaps.

Subject(s): UNITED States. -- Navy

Source: Naval Aviation News, Jul/Aug98, Vol. 80 Issue 5, p5, 2p

Author(s): Karppi, Wendy Abstract: Cites brief information on accidents related to the United States Navy. Details on the crash of the F/A-18 Hornet Strike Fighter Squadron 37 aircraft, on May 27, 1998 near the NAS Fallon, Nevada base; Identification of the pilot who was killed in the crash;

Information on an emergency landing made by the SH-60F Seahawk aircraft, on May 28, 1998; Details on other happenings.



On Sunday, Lt. [David Erick Bergstrom] and the officer piloting his jet died during an air show outside Philadelphia when their F-14 completed a routine inverted maneuver--flying upside down--and crashed into woods in front of more than 100,000 spectators. The crash, which is under investigation, killed two of the Navy's top fliers in one of the military's most dangerous professions.

Bergstrom and Lt. William Joseph Dey, 30, of Hightstown, N.J., were killed when their fighter jet crashed at Willow Grove Naval Air Station in Willow Grove, Pa., while they were performing standard flight tactics and wowing the air show crowd with the speed and versatility of their craft.

Military officials said they are unsure what caused the F-14 to veer into the woods, but Willow Grove spokeswoman Sherri Jones said nothing appeared abnormal about their 20-minute flight.

Bergstrom and Dey represented half of the Atlantic Fleet's elite F- 14 demonstration team, and both had been instructors at Fighter Squadron 101, based at the Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach. Both had been in the Navy for eight years and had logged more than 1,000 flight hours in the F-14, a standard carrier-based fighter jet.

Copyright The Washington Post Company Jun 20, 2000


To return to the page you came from, simply close this window, or ckick your back button
Or, go to PelicanNetwork Bombing Range Page

Or, PelicanNetwork Home Page