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.
Robert W. Fizer
I was born on Staten Island, New York City, and entered the Air Force on March 9, 1951. After Basic Training at Sampson AFB NY, in June of ’51, I was sent to Lowry AFB for B-29 gunnery training. In Sept of ’51, I was sent to Randolph AFB for Combat Crew Training. On March 9, 1952, on a blind date, I met Barbara Jeanne Ellis.
I was sent to Barksdale AFB as a tail gunner on B-29’s. I collected over 1000 hours as a gunner on B-29’s and applied for Aviation Cadets in the fall of 1952. I was accepted into the Aviation Cadet program and went to Lackland AFB for preflight training in April of ‘53. I took primary training at Hondo in the Piper and T-6.
I took basic at Laredo AFB for the T-28 and T-33. I graduated in June, class of 54-L.
On August 14, 1954, I married Barbara.
I then went to T-33 gunnery training at Laughlin AFB and then on to Luke AFB for F-84 gunnery training. From Luke, I went to Korea, back to Luke, to Clark AB, England AFB, Bien Hoa, Luke, Wheelus, and back to Luke where I retired in March of 1971.
I totaled out at a little over 4000 hours, with just under 3000 in the F-100. The rest was spread out in the aircraft listed above.
As an active reservist with no college degree, I knew I was out in 20.
In Oct of ’71, I started with Cessna Aircraft Company as a Citation Demo pilot. In late summer of ’77 I took over as Manager of the Demonstration D Dept. and held that job till Oct 1990.
I collected many fighter pilots to join the Citation Demo team. I had 15 pilots, 12 who had been fighter pilots, 3 were ex- Thunderbirds. After leaving Cessna I flew a Challenger along with Bill Hosmer for about a year and a half.
My heart attacked me and I hung up the jets in 1992. I flew some photo missions for my son Mike with AOPA for a few years and my heart attacked me again in 2000, so I hung it all up. I closed the book with over 12,000 hours and 2 daughters, one son and 4 grandchildren.
For highlights, I’d have to list the Fighter Weapons School for a 1 1st st Lt. with limited total flying time; a wonderful 12 weeks with 20th Century Fox filming The Hunters; staying in the cockpit for almost my entire career; seeing the world with the Air Force and 128 countries with a Cessna Citation.
Since March 9, 1951, I’ve never worked a day in my life.
I’m totally retired since 2000 and enjoying golf and poker in Wichita KS.