30 November 1957 – Capt Benny Lacombe is killed when he unsuccessfully attempts to bail out of Lockheed U-2A, 56-6704, Article 371, 13 miles SE of Laughlin AFB. Ejection seats had not yet been fitted to U-2s at this point. The history of the U-2 program is fraught with fatalities and crashes. “CIA pilots Wilburn S.
Benjamin W. Bowthorpe
“In 1953, when I was 18, been out of high school about six, eight months and I had finished one quarter up at the university and they were just about ready to draft me into the Army, which I didn’t care a whole lot for. So I said, “Well, I think I’ll just join something.” And the Navy was about nine or ten months and the Air Force was about two or three months so I just joined the Air Force.
I was able to get into pilot training because with the beginning of the Cold War they were going to need a bunch of pilots. You used to have to have four years of college or at least two years of college to apply. But then when the Cold War started they lowered the requirements. If you had a high enough grade on your entrance exam in the Air Force and could pass the physicals, you could go to aviation cadet training.”
For the rest of this interview with Ben Bowthorpe by KUED.org, go to https://www.kued.org/sites/default/files/benjamin-bowthorpe.pdf