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.
Richard W. Dabney
Richard (Dick) Dabney was assigned to pilot training at Reese AFB, Lubbock, TX, after graduating from OCS. His first daughter, Kathy, was born at Lackland, during OCS. His second daughter, Karen, was born at Reese AFB, during pilot training.
He remembers that he was the first pilot training class (64-C) to fly the T-38. It was a brand new airplane then, and a blast to fly.
After graduating from pilot training the next assignment was Luke AFB for advanced fighter training in F-100s. Then on to RAF Wethersfield in England in 1964. This was a three-year tour with lots of TDYs to Aviano, Wheelus, Cigli, etc. He also played ALO/FAC with the US Army in Germany, because at that time the USAF didn’t have full-time ALOs attached to Brigades.
In 1967 he received orders to Phan Rang, Vietnam, a concurrent overseas tour. Sharon stayed in her home state of North Dakota while he was in Vietnam for a year. He flew 301 combat missions in F-100s in Vietnam. He was shot down once but managed to land (prang) the airplane down, on fire, on the runway at Bien Hoa. Great fun in those days. “We were all in our 20s.”
In 1968 he went to Nellis AFB and became an F-111 IP. Lots of stories there. The F-111 was known as the TFX then and there was lots of controversy about the airplane. In 1972 he was sent to Takhli, Thailand and flew for 42 combat missions in the F-111. This was a 5 month TDY out of Nellis.
In 1973 he was sent to General Dynamics, Ft. Worth as USAF F-111 acceptance pilot, then in 1975 to Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque as flight ops type at Air Force Contract Management Division. His last assignment was to Osan AB, Korea in 1978.
He came home in 1979 and retired in 1980. He then got into real estate in Albuquerque and has been involved with that for 23 years now. He will retire a second time soon, he hopes.
He and Sharon have two daughters and four grandkids.