5 December 1956 – A Northrop XSM-62 Snark, 53-8172, N-69D test model, fitted with a new 24-hour stellar inertial guidance system, launches from Cape Canaveral Missile Test Annex, Florida. It wanders off-course, ignores destruct command, disappears over Brazil. It is found by a farmer in January 1983. The Day They Lost the Snark By J.
Jerry Marcus Crow
J MARCUS CROW by DH Williams
J Marcus Crow was a graduate of Texas A&M University in 1957. I graduated from the University of Texas in 1957, so we were destined to forever be adversaries – NOT SO – we became lifelong friends. His father (as I recall) was a cotton farmer in Seminole, TX. Jean and I met Marcus and Betty at Reese AFB , Lubbock, TX after he had completed USAF Primary Flight Training. At Reese, we graduated to the T-33 for instrument rating, formation training, “advanced navigation” and other rituals of integration into the Air Force Community. We lived on the economy and did our share to promote Air Force ideals to the public.
We carpooled to the base whenever our schedules permitted.
In 1958, on graduation from Undergraduate Pilot Training, Marcus & I were headed to Luke AFB & subsequently to Nellis AFB for F-100 Combat Crew Training, where we were graded for navigation skills and nuclear weapons delivery techniques, as well as dive bomb, skip bomb, rockets and general airmanship.
Between Luke & Nellis, our class went to Stead AFB, where we participated with our peers, Ted Laudise, Toby Eddy, Jerry Richards, Dick Plummer, Gene Hartman, Dick Van Loan, Robert Hutton, Petey Peterson and many others in survival training – it was a blast. We got to camp out in the cold, build survival shelters, look for food, eat dirt while evading bad guys.
In early 1960 Marcus, Toby & I were assigned to the 522 TFS, Cannon AFB, NM; Ted was assigned to the 524 TFS. I thought I was exceptionally gifted, since I could hit check points within 10 seconds on low level missions (of course, we could see the next check point when we made the turn).
We made a deployment to the Phillipeans during this period – had a really rough start – we launched from Cannon mid-afternoon to arrive George and launch to Hickam next day. One flight called for a DF steer from George and turned 180 degrees from inbound course to base. Lost three aircraft for trip – only one landed at George.
From there, no other incidents – we landed at Hickam, Guam, Clark following multiple air to air refuelings, conducted exercises, returned to Guam, Hickam, George & Cannon. At Cannon, we arrived at high station, cancelled IFR, and then lost sight of the runway because of blowing sand before we landed all aircraft without incident.
In June, 1961 I had an early morning flight – after I went to the flight line, Jean called the maternity ward to tell them she was en route to deliver our third child – she also called the Crows to tell them to tell me that the baby was on the way.
Marcus told Jean to stay where she was, and he would take her to hospital. Later, after my flight concluded, I went to hospital to find Jean doing well. We spent the afternoon with no activity, and she insisted that I attend a social that we had planned, as sponsors, for the Methodist Youth Fellowship, an ice cream supper. I did, but then made a hasty trip to Cannon to see my son.
In the fall of 1961, Marcus and I were deployed to Myrtle Beach to assist the launch of a sister squadron to Europe to support the gold flow problem. When we got back to Cannon, our concurrent orders to Lakenheath had been cancelled.
Ted Laudise escaped the cap on families to Europe and got to England with family before the cap was effective.