4/13/2011

In Memory of Captain Wesley J Brooks






  Our experience at the base of the mountain on Avril 18, 2013 were moments of  the silent thoughts for myself and sons.

We finally saw where our lives changed forever and they were able to find small pieces to bring home.

The next day we were given the beautiful steel plaque that honors my husband and their father.

That will stand at the base of this mountain for all who come that way to read in French and English about what happened and why.

In the summer the mountain sparkles like diamonds from pieces still there.

Our 3 days in Tréminis were and will be in our hearts forever.

We thank all for this special gift.



Nancy Brooks

May 6, 2013



Article from the "Dauphiné Libéré Isère" after visiting the Brooks family to Tréminis
Published wednesday, April 24, 2013

-----------
Tréminis
50 years ago, an American pilot crashed on the Grande Casse.
 
April 25, 1963, a USAFE plane struck crest of Grépoux, boosting the pilot on top of the cliff. Alerted by the noise of the crash, several residents of Tréminis accompanied Gendarmes were then researched. The weather has complicated their mission, the pilot's body had been found on 27 April (1). Captain Wesley J Brooks, 28 years had died. At the foot of the Grand Ferrand, where some wreckage still reside, the municipality of Tréminis plans to install a stele in honor of the American pilot
From April 17 to 20 Specifically, the widow of Captain Brooks, Nancy Brooks, and his four son, were Tréminis for the 50th anniversary of the death of their husband and father. Found by a resident Tréminis few years ago, the family came first on the scene of the tragedy. This is thanks to research conducted by Tréminisous that Brooks learned the exact circumstances of the death of their father. Until then, they only knew that the crash occurred in the Alps ... Last Friday, the family was received by the villagers for a shared meal. A slideshow depicting the events of 25 April 1963 (2) has been shown before that the family of the pilot reveals the stele to be installed soon.
Stay in shape of pilgrimage, full of emotions and brotherhood among Americans and Triévois.

Photo text:
Around the stele in honor of Captain Brooks, facing his widow and four son alongside the Mayor of Tréminis Frederic Aubert, and the main organizers of the coming of the bereaved family.


(1) Sunday 28 Avril 1963
(2) 1963

********

  Captain Wesley J Brooks

Born; jun 19,1934 Oakland, CA
Death : 11:10 am on april 25,1963 (on the crest of Grépoux, France)




He Buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California, south of San Francisco, CA


1/ Citations & Decorations :


CITATION TO ACCOMPANY THE AWARD OF 
THE AIR MEDAL
TO  WESLEY J. BROOKS
   

Captain Wesley J. Brooks distinguished himself by meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight as a representative of the United States Air Force in Europe in the first annual reconnaissance phase of the United States Air Force Fighter Weapons Competition "William Tell 1962" from 15 September 1962 to 19 September 1962.  During this period, the professional skill, leadership, and devotion to duty of Captain Brooks resulted in his team achieving the highest over-all honors of the Meet.  In addition, Captain Brooks was awarded the "Art Post Trophy" as the most outstanding tactical reconnaissance pilot in the Air Force.  The outstanding professional competence and airmanship displayed by Captain Brooks reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.





  2/ Links & Thanks: 

 

  Merci à Francis Froidevaux et Patrick Estrade, pour leur travail de recherche concernant deux pilotes Français disparus au commande de leur Mirage IV. 

Un travail de mémoire très similaire au notre et qui à toute sa place ici.

The stele of Captain Brooks is referenced on the site Aérostèles :


********

When I went on this ridge, I knew nothing of Captain Brooks.
Site does not remember the drama of April 1963, with some wreckage visible on the top of the cliff.
Soon I will pass below ("grande casse" in French) to identify photographs and the rest of the wreckage of the aircraft (the reactor probably)
Since that day in April 2011, I wanted more information on this disaster and I could find some things on the internet related to this tragedy (but few).
It is in this majestic site, that the young Captain USAFE died in 25 April 1963.
Throughout my research over several years, I later discovered other elements of the life of Captain Brooks. Some items related to his family.
I hope to one day have a contact with a family member (I know Jeff Brooks, and his mother is left messages on the site of Laon AB, trying to experience life to it conducted in France in the early 1960s. (1)
This site is in constant progress and documents from different sites where the Captain is quoted.
My next visit, I will take pictures of the site from different angles (the crash site). but next year (2013) will mark the 50th anniversary of the death of the American pilot.
My thoughts for Nancy Brooks, and sons.
This modest about on my blog, is dedicated to them.

Serge
31 january, 2012
Lyon, France 

(1) I managed to contact the Brooks family late February 2012 and I am very pleased with the information they could provide me to complete my research phase. it is through them that much information will be on the blog.
thank you so much.







 

3/ Testimony of Nancy Brooks (widow of the pilot) :


Information about my husband and what he had done before this accident.

Laon Air Base was not just another U.S.Air Force Base.  From its existence in 1952 thru 1967, the airmen stationed at Laon, France took their assignments seriously.  From "Ground Crews" to the "Flying Crews" and evolutions of B-26's, B-57's, then RF-101 Voodoos played a major role in the "Cold War", as Keepers of "Freedom".  No individual that served at Laon should be forgotten but we "Treasure" those that achieved the highest level of military excellence and gave the ultimate sacrifice in the process.  Captain Wesley J. Brooks was one of them.  He was not just an ordinary voodoo pilot, but was the best pilot in the "William Tell" air competition, thereby named the best reconnaissance pilot in the Air Force.  This not only required his expert flying capacity, but included support personnel as well.  Particular emphasis was place on realism, consistent with flight safety and the professionalism of the USAF pilot.  Select tactical fighter pilots must be able to demonstrate the latest techniques developed for simulated combat conditions.  Seven days of "Hot Competition" earned Captain Brooks the Art Post Trophy.

The "William Tell: meet was held in Las Vegas, Nevada from September 15th to the 19th of 1962.  I believe the first and only time the Voodoo's participated.

We were living in Laon at the time and the planes, crews and equipment were flown there.  Wes and another pilot flew their planes from Laon to Las Vegas.  The return flight took 9 hours flying time with refueling in air.  They arrived to a big celebration.  The Royal Flush met was the same as the William Tell except this one was to  be held in May in Germany.  The team from Laon did not win.

Nancy Brooks
March 12, 2012




4/ Unity patchs :


  
66th TRW
(Tactical reconnaissance Wing)
(Omnia conspicimus  = see all)




18th TRS
(Tactical reconnaissance Squadron)


 

Tag of Voodoo's Pilots


5/ Aircraft :

 



RF 101 C voodoo of Captain Brooks was the n°56-100
(Recon  Aircraft)

Length : 69.3ft (21,10 m)
Wingspan : 39.7 ft (12,09 m)
Height : 18.0 feet (5,48 m)

Weight : 
- empty    26,136 lbs
- combat  36,586 lbs
- takeoff   48,133 lbs

Fuel (JP-4)**: 3,150 gals (20,475 lbs)
** includes two 450 gallon external drop tanks

Engine : 2 Pratt & Whitney J57s

Cost : 1 276 244 $

Combat  radius : 888 NM

Maximun speed :1000 mph (1600 Km/h)
Cruising speed : 550 mph (880 Km/h)
Range : 2060 miles (3300 km)     




RF 101 C voodoo
(Recon  Aircraft)




nose with camera







on the top




front view



to Laon Air Base
1959



cockpit of voodoo




USAFE Laon
alert in progress
(18th TRS logo on the side towards the nose)



back view
(Overview of France)



Refueling
(Voodoo RF101C and F100 Super sabre
)

*******
(Thanks to Tim Taylor for the best photos)


 

 

6/ Facts : (in progress):




(The target of the mission, the names of teammates Captain stay state according to the plan of ongoing research.)




This vidéo is really important.
For me it is the cause of the accident triggered.


Mrs Brooks version of the journal The Recce Reader of (summer 2005):

He was on a training mission for the Royal Flush team, but unfortunately, he crashed April 23 (2), 1963 in the montains of Grenoble France.

French version :
 
Obiou montain- April 25, 1963

On Thursday, April 25 (2), 1963, around 11:00, a Voodoo 101 F (fighter aircraft to
reaction) of the Air Force forces the cliff between the tip of the Aupet and the Grand
Ferrand to 2700 meters.
The aircraft left the U.S. air base in Laon (Aisne), to 10 hours 15, for a reconnaissance photo on the Southern Alps. When he discusses the mountains, south of Grenoble, they are in the clouds. of Witnesses saw the aircraft at low altitude hear a few minutes later explosion, which allowed the rescuers to find the scene of the tragedy in a very
Avalanche.
The pilot, Captain Wesley BROOKS, aged 28, was killed in this accident.

********

Gordon Doug version :

Royal Flush VIII in 1963 was marred by tragedy when, prior to the event, Captain Wes Brooks was killed practicing for the low level part of the competition. On the 28 (2)th April whilst flying under very low cloud Brooks flew into a blind canyon in the French Alps. On realising his predicament he had lit the burners and gone into a maximum climb. He hit the vertical cliff only 60 feet from the top. George Cowgill was on the accident board covering this crash:

“A farmer in the valley told us the ceiling was near 200 feet when he saw the aircraft pull up with ‘flamme rouge’. While we were at the accident site three of us went down the cliff about a hundred feet where some of the wreckage was hung up. Some wreckage went over the top, some to the bottom of the 2000 feet cliff and a little was caught on the ledge about a 100 feet down”
********


Jeff Brooks (Capt Brooks' youngest son) version :

Several years ago I submitted requests for info about my father on any website I could find that had any possible connection with my father, the Air Force, his squad, plane, Recon, etc.. Because of those "Request", I have been contacted by several individuals who knew him and/or were familiar with the incident. I found a man, who as a young boy clearly remembers his father working the rescue/recovery efforts. He stated, that he was thinking of us kids and the lose of their father.
I was also able to get a copy of the incident report from the Air Force. The report was enlightening as to the account of events that lead up to his accident. Most sobering was the simple fact that he missed the summit of a 6,500 foot mountain by a mere 50 feet or so. 50 feet and my life would be completely different!..................................................... He actually bypassed his first target and proceeded to the second because of deteriorating weather conditions.


********

Larry Piliavin, Battle Ground WA version :
(operator of the control tower)


I was on duty in the control tower the day your dad crashed in his F-101.  As I remember it, he took off in the morning, with no external fuel tanks, for a short flight.  Without tanks, he was limited to around two hours; maybe less. 

Around his filed return time, and not hearing from him, I made a few blanket transmissions thinking maybe his transmitter might be out.  This happened from time to time.   According to air traffic regulations, as I recall them, he was supposed to report in around twenty minutes prior to his scheduled arrival back at Laon.  When the window of time passed, we dispatched the crash crew to stand by on the flight line, which is standard procedure.   

When it became obvious something was wrong, the base Gooney Bird (a C-47 which I'm sure you know), piloted by Capt. Daniel F. Hughes, and took off to perform a search.  Days went by with no sign of Captain Brooks. 

Some time later, a French farmer, hearing the news of a missing plane from Laon, reported hearing a loud "boom" from high up in the mountains on the day of the mishap.  Further searching in that area uncovered the crash site.  As I recall, the plane was almost totally covered with snow, which explained why it took so long to find it.

Larry Piliavin
Battle Ground WA



********

  William "Goldie" Goldfein version :
(Pilot at 18th TRS)

Captain Wes Brooks was a very good friend of mine as he was also friends with all of the members of our escadrille (squadron).  He was a fine, fine officer who was proud of our country and of our Air Force service.  He was also loyal to his fellow pilots as well as the other members of our squadron at Le Base de Couvron.  You know of the loving relationship he had with his wonderful family.  He and I had flown together in flight formations on many occasions and he was an accomplished pilot, a true professional in every respect.  This was obvious when he was selected to fly as a team member of the Royal Flush Competition Team representing our Wing (escadrille) and confirmed our choice when he returned with the title of "the best of the best" in reconnaissance.  As reconnaissance pilots, we took pride in our performances of split-second timing over specific check points and over or abeam of our several "targets" and the ability to see, remember as well as record photographically the targets and then following our return to base, relate clearly all that we saw to Intelligence personnel as well as showing our Photo Interpreters the minuscule details of the target views.  Wes was a proven champion our profession.  Couple that immense skill with being a superb pilot and you have his fellow reconnaissance pilot's description of Captain Wes Brooks.  As for the memory that I still hold vividly in my mind on the day he did not return from his mission, it was almost as if the squadron members were stricken mute; the squadron area was virtually silenced.  When the news of the crash came in, those of us in "B" Flight felt the news was incredulous but reality prevailed and we each suffered the loss of our flight mate both alone and together as the day progressed.  Serge, that is my remembrance of one of the saddest days in my nearly 33 year career in the USAF.
My wife of nearly 56 years and I are attending the RF-101 Voodoo Reunion in Seattle , Washington from May 20th through the 23rd this year and we will see Nancy and remember again that day nearly a half century ago.  Thank you for your e-mail below and thank you for your interest in this event as our two-country alliance renews the camaraderie that we've held for so many years.  Good Luck and God Speed.
Very respectfully,
Goldie
William "Goldie" Goldfein
Col, USAF (Retired)


********

 Tim Taylor version :  
Airman  (A2C) 
17th & 18th TRS


Hi Serge, I think this is a wonderful memorial you have done for Wes Brooks and his family.  I have been in touch with Nancy, his wife and a couple of the sons by email.  A couple years ago they were trying to get information about Wes' crash.  I knew him from contact in 1962 until his death.  I was an airman (A2C) in the reconn photo processing section for the 17th & 18th TRS.  I was originally assigned to the 18th but the lab was in trailers and we worked together.  Part of my job was Operations driver for 2 week periods every once-In-awhile.  I got to meet and greet the pilots by taking them out in a van to their jets, and picking them up and bringing them back to their squadron ops section after their sorties.  I met Wes during that time.  He was affable and friendly and not a stiff officer.  He tried to sell me his AC Bristol sports convertible when I was making a deal with Capt. Reeder also of the 18th for his 59 Porsche.  I was thunderstruck when I heard of Wes' crash.  We were briefed on it by some of the officers.  You have a very accurate presentation of what happened.  The pilots were looked up to by us ground personnel, and I have been in touch with Captain Reeder who retired as a Colonel who has said to me several times his appreciation of the support people.  We cared for their safety and we wept when they were lost.  There were 4 crashes between 1962 and 1964 when I left Laon.  There were two fatalities; Wes Brooks and another earlier one whose face I still can see but name escapes me at this time (1).  He had sort of a similar situation where he came out of low clouds way too close to the ground.  The same thing happened as there was a farmer in this incident that also was a witness.  The pilot ignited his after burners just about the time he hit the ground.  
Thanks again Serge

Tim Taylor 
Airman  (A2C) 
17th & 18th TRS

(1) His name was Captain Newby 


Thank you Tim !
(model of the aircraft Captain Brooks of the 18th TRS) 


********

Michel Verdin version :  
(liaison officer of French Air Force) 


Hello ! I remember Capt Wesley Brooks I met sometimes at Laon Couvron Air Base. He was a jolly good fellow who could together laugh and concentrate on his risky job. He was a personnality. I was liaison officer at the French liaison Office working with Col Massengale at the HQ. That was a big loss but not the only one. Another crash occured at takeoff end of the runway loaded with JP4. 
Always a human tragedy ! 
God bless them all !

Michel Verdin 

********

Pierre Blanc version :  
(Tréminis farmer and eyewitness)

Michel and Anne-Marie, residents of Tréminis, have collected the testimony of Mr Pierre Blanc (Son of Mr André Blanc, and himself witnessed the arrival of the aircraft Tréminis that day).This is a very affable man of 68 years who intersperses his narrative with anecdotes typical on village life in the past.
 
Michel asked him some very specific questions about the accident Voodoo April 25, 1963, and here's what he said, drawing the support (1).
 
This morning there he was himself working in a vineyard sloping south of the village of Prébois. The weather was overcast with a cloud ceiling a little lower than what you can see on the pictures I made today.
 
Suddenly his attention was attracted by the noise of an engine from the west and sees rise below where it works (very low), a jet that goes up during Ebron towards Tréminis, at an average speed according to him.
 
His observation is relayed few seconds later by his father Mr André Blanc (now deceased) who is busy remove stones a sloping field northwest of the hamlet of Serre where he has his home.He raises his head, loud reactor approaching and sees a jet rush him to the point that it literally "throws down" and had just time to see the aircraft extremely low (20 or 30 meters) and very inclined to the right that turning a corner and climbs into the fog "full throttle" with "two red flames in the back."
 
A few seconds later, the hunter has gone, a muffled explosion was heard, followed by him "clanging".
 
Convinced that a crash has just occurred, it alerts the police by phone Clelles, which prevents the Mure of (since at that time there would have been no police to Mens - much closer.
 
Being back Prébois, Mr Pierre Blanc was surprised to see around his house a number of gendarmes who fear him are firstly that something happened to her parents.
 
Mr André Blanc meanwhile starts to have doubts about what he heard, afraid of having to move the police for nothing and suffer the ridicule - especially that some people who also Tréminis heard the noise, for their part, believe that it is just a sonic boom, and the hunter in question has already arrived in Nice.
 
Fortunately for him and unfortunately for the pilot, a crash has occurred at the top of the Grande Casse. Mr. Gauthier is the first who discovered the remains of Rf 101C (part of the reactor) at the bottom of the case. The rest is history since the wreckage will be found two days later from the snow still covers the tray.
 
I showed Mr Pierre Blanc a screenshot from Google Earth, on which he represented me without hesitation the path from the Voodoo during Ebron until his sudden change of course in the field where his father worked. I am enclosing a sketch "raw", as well as others, annotated and corrected, according to what I think - in view of the research we've done. 
(1) Picture reproduced below:




exeptional thanks to Michel and Anne-Marie for their devotion
Thank you to Mr Pierre Blanc for his testimony


********

USAF version : 
(report of investigation)

History of Flight
Captain Brooks was the second of the three Long Rang Royal Flush team members scheduled to fly a profile training mission on 25 april 1963,in preparation for participation in the annual NATO Royal Flush reconnaissance competition two weeks later. This mission included three targets  for visual and photographic reconnaissance,and the three sorties were scheduled for takeoff at 50 minutes intervals.
Because the telephone in the Royal Flush operations area was inoperative on this day, weather briefing and clearance were handled by the team captain, who had selected the targets and was responsible for monitoring and evaluating mission preparation, execution and results. This member of the team was highly qualified reconnaissance pilot who was not permitted to fly in the Royal Flush competition because of previous participation.
(black marks / censored)
Each pilot flying the mission was furnished by the team photo interpretation section with a 1:1,000,000 scale map of the entire route with headings, times and ASN-7 computer coordinate check points entered on it, as well as a 1/250,000 scale map from letdown point to target with headings and times entered on it and 1:100,000 scale maps from the IP’s to the targets with headings and times entered on them.
(black marks / censored)
Captain Brooks completed the walk around pre-flight inspection of RF-101C  56-0100 at about 0730Z. After the flight planning phase was completed, at about 0830Z, he proceeded to the aircraft, started the engines and called for taxi clearance. However, he was told that local weather was below takeoff minimum conditions, so he shut down the engines and returned to Royal Flush operations. After  a delay of approximately 30 minutes awaiting improvement in the local weather, he again started the engines and this time was cleared to taxi to the active runway.
(black marks / censored)
Captain Brooks took off on runway 03 at 0916Z. he followed Standard Instrument Departure Number 3 until reaching VMC on top at about 4,000 feet and then presumably continued climbing in a turn intercept course to the city of Grenoble, France, which was the designated letdown point and pre-IP for the first target. The appropriate quadrantal cruising flight level for this direction of flight was FL300. Time en route to Grenoble estimated by the first team pilot to fly the mission was 42 minutes, giving an approximate ETA for Captain Brooks at this point 0958Z.
Immediately after release from approach control frequency, Captain Brooks was contacted on the en route traffic control frequency by the first team pilot, who was flying the return leg from the last target. This pilot directed Captain Brooks to change to a discrete frequency, and when contact was made on this frequency, informed him that he had dropped the first target because weather enroute to it from Grenoble. he suggested that Captain Brooks continue directely to second target, using dead reckoning. Catpain Brooks acknowledged this information and returned to his enroute frequency.
(black marks / censored)
Estimated total flight time from takeoff until the time of impact on the mountain was 54 minutes, and fuel on board at the time of accident is estimated at approximately 12,000 pounds.
INVESTIGATION AND ANALYSIS
Captain Brooks pilot of RF-101C, Serial Number 56-0100, was declared missing in flight after he failed to comply with his assigned “expected approach time” while participating in a high-low-high reconnaissance flight on 25 April 1963.
An extensive air and ground search was initiated with particular emphasis on the target area in the French Alps. On the morning of 28 April 1963, wreckage debris was sighted on the crest of 7480 foot ridge in the Département of Isère, 2,2 miles east southeast of the village of Treminis, France.
The Aircraft Accident Investigating Board members departed immediately, upon notification of crash scene, by air for Grenoble, France. From Grenoble the investigation team attempted to reach the accident scene by helicopter, but was unsuccessful due to adverse weather. The following morning, 29 April 1963, the team was successful in a helicoter ascent to crash scene.

Investigation :
1. IMPACT AERA :
The aircraft struck the mountain approximately 100 feet below the crest or at approximately 7,380 feet mean sea level. Precise point of initial impact was impossible to determine since the aircraft apparently struck in area of heavy snow on an approximate 80 percent slope.
(black marks / censored)
Aircraft wreckage found in this area was confined, for the most part, to small débris with the notable exception of the almost intact left stabilator found found on the lip of the crest, the left speed brake and a large portion of the left flap.
The pilot’s parachute, survival kit and remains were also found on the far side of the crest.
The engine and related accessories remained on the mountain slop in an relatively recessed area somewhat below the assumed impact point.
The force of the impact and subsequent explosion resulted in an avalanche of considereable magnitude that presumably buried a subtantial amount of wreckage in the confines of an area between the 5,000 and 6,000 foot level. Some debris (Hydraulic actuators, cylinders,etc) and the largest piece of wreckage (approximately 50 square feet of left wing and aileron surface) was located in the surface of the avalanche.
The instrument panel, individual flight instruments and/or cockpit controls were not recovered.
The ejection seat and related egress initiators were not recovered.
The left half on the pilot’s seat belt and the automatic parachute lanyard key were found in separate locations. Inspection of these items revealed that the pilot’lap belt latch assembly was not inserted in the automatique parachute lanyard key as directed by T.O. IF-101(R) A-1
(black marks / censored)
the zero second parachute lanyard was recovered and determined to be in the stowed position at the time of impact.
(black marks / censored)
2. AIRCRAFT HEADING :
(black marks / censored)
3. AIRCRAFT ATTITUDE :
(black marks / censored)
4. AIRCRAFT CONFIGURATION :
(black marks / censored)
5. POWER SETTINGS :
(black marks / censored)
FINDINGS :

PRIMARY CAUSE : Opérateur facteur.
The pilot, due to disorientation, entered a valley in which the combination of cloud cover and adverse terrain prevented flight continuance in VMC conditions, and subsequently did not initiate a climb in time to avoid the mountain range.
CONTRIBUTING CAUSE : Weather.
Weather conditions in the valley from which the pilot began his climb prevented the selection an area of lower terrain elevation in which to climb to VMC on top.
PROBABLE CONTRIBUTING CAUSE : 

Operateur Factor.
The competitive nature of the mission provided a motive for attempting to complete the assigned low level flight in a mountainous aera when the highter elevations were obscurered.
Although the following findings did not ….. (not readable) .... they are considered ..... (not readable).
a/  Although the aircraft contained (not readable) failed to indicate the minimum …..... (not readable).
b/  The pilot took off six minutes after his weather briefing had expired.
c/  The pilot at some point in the sequence of events that preceded  the accident , failed to place the automatic parachute lanyard key on automatic lap belt as directed by T.O. 1F -101(R) A-1 and 17th Air Force Commander’s Message EFTO/Comdr 23074, dated 5 April 1963.

(2)  25 april, 1963 (now, date is confirmed)

********
Jake Sorensen version : 
(Pilot at 18th TRS, and first pilot of the mission of April 25, 1963)



Serge,
I cannot be precise in explanation of the crash of Wes Brooks. What I remember of question 1. was the target was a dam/powerplant high up in the mountains behind Grenoble. As noted, the weather at take-off was minimal and after the departure I climbed to probably 31,000 feet and cruised to a position about 40 miles short of Grenoble. At Laon AB the cloud tops were at about 20,000 feet. As I approached my letdown point the cloud tops were somewhat lower and it was layered as I recall. I broke out at about 8000 feet and proceeded to Grenoble. As I approached Grenoble I could see the clouds covering the tops of the hills on either side of the river and then I proceeded through the pass. Now I have a problem with memory mostly because East of the pass at Granoble the cloud formations were literally from the surface and layered. That is Scud patches randomly from the surface then slightly broken clouds at about 500 feet then solid overcast. I recognize immediately that the target had to be in solid cloud cover and it was important to get out of the mountainous area. I went full power without afterburner and turned South to the next target while in a fairly steep climb about 6000' per minute. I broke out on top of the clouds in that area at about 8-10000 feet and as I approached the Mediterranean the cloud cover disappeared. The weather over the next two targets near the Mediterranean were clear. I climber to about 35.000 feet for the return leg to Laon. I was about abeam of Grenoble when I heard Wes talking to the French controller. I contacted him and told him that the weather was socked in at target 1. and the I had dropped it. He acknowledged. I returned to Laon, made a weather penetration and landed.

In looking at your photo's, I am uncertain where the Dam/powerplant was located.I get the impression that it was off Wes's left wing an that he was following the river/stream to get to it. He also must have been well below the 500 foot minimum until he pulled up. I say that because the cloud cover was about 500 feet and the terrain was rising up underneath him. Since a witness reported that he light the afterburners he might have recognized the predictument he was in.

If I knew where the powerplant/dam was located I probably could reconstruct the course that I would have taken after crossing Grenoble and the mountain pass based upon the terrain features, an IP (Initial point) and heading to the target from the IP. I probably would have used the intersection of the two streams as the IP. "One can plow through some clouds for a moment in level terrain but not so in this Mountainous terrain".I suspect that about the time he lit the burners he had reached the conclusion that the target was inaccessible and that he needed to quickly get out of there. He also might have seen the verticle rock facing he was approaching. Whatever, his response was to late.

Jake Sorensen



7/ Local Newspapers : 

Dauphiné Libéré:

April 26,1963:
An American fighter base Laon crashed on the slopes of Obiou (2793 m)
 
Difficult research to locate the wreck, because of bad weather. Grenoble, April 25. An American plane type F.101 took off Thursday morning at 10 h15, Laon (Aisne), for a mission in the area bounded by Grenoble, Manosque, and the Italian border. It was a simple reconnaissance mission and the aircraft had fuel allowing a cruising range of 2h30. At 12:45, the plane had not returned to its base, the coordination center and rescue Romilly sur Seine triggered research which he was responsible for the northern sector and called for help from the base of Aix en Provence. Romilly French and American planes began research, while Toulouse, Manosque and Le Bourget du Lac 
and two planes and two helicopters took air.
(Continued on page 4)

 

The crash of American fighter.

(continued from page 1) Around 11:30, people of Tréminis the border between the departments of Isere and Hautes Alpes, had noted with concern an aircraft flying at low altitude (about 200 meters above the small town say the witnesses)
Shortly after crossing the village, and when the visibility was virtually zero, the aircraft was close to the nearby mountains Obiou (2793m) and the Grand Ferrand (2761m), a near vertical climb. Moments later, these same witnesses saw the sound of a loud explosion.
The plane had crashed it against the rock? 

The gendarmerie of Cielles was then alerted, and Lieutenant Jayet, company commander of the Mure went immediately to the scene to organize research.
The gendarmes of several brigades, helped civilians, then began their way to the supposed location of the accident. But because of the rugged landscape and altitude. The snow is still very important because even the weather and thick fog covering the entire north face of the massif.
In late afternoon we had not yet found any trace of the unit.
And probably the rescuers will they rely on this Friday. In seeking better weather and more appropriate ways. Their research in the nearby mountains.
Other testimonies
In late afternoon, according to some testimonies that appear very late, the U.S. plane was sighted at 11.00 above Montaud and Noyarey and have dived the Chartreuse Mountains, above the Fontalil. On the other hand, on the basis of another witness, the police have explored Sassenage until night Sornin tray. But without results.


April 27,1963:
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF AMERICAN AIRCRAFT 


The research had to be suspended due to fog and avalanches.

Grenoble, April 26. Research that had resumed this morning in the mountains of Obiou and Grand-Ferrand in the Alps of Dauphine to find the U.S. military plane missing since yesterday, had to be stopped around 15:00, due to fog and avalanches.This jet type F101
had left the base at 10:00 in the Aisne Laon for a reconnaissance flight over the region bounded by Grenoble, Manosque, and the Italian border. this device does not return to its base.
After several false information, eyewitness accounts suggest that the American fighter crashed into the mountain range between Obiou (2793 meters) and the Grand Ferrand (2761 meters).Several people of the town of Tréminis, located in the foothills, have indeed noticed the passage of the device at very low altitude between 11:00 and 11:15. 

"I worked in a field to specify one of these witnesses, Mr André Blanc, a farmer in Greenhouse Tréminis, when I saw happen to a Western aircraft has two engines flying at very low altitude. The cloud ceiling was so low, a hundred meters, and the device has passed some thirty meters above me. I could see the number 9 and the letter B painted on one wing. The aircraft pitched up suddenly turning, and he headed straight for the Grand Ferrand. While I had lost sight of, a minute later I heard a thump " 

Mr Louis Gras, also a farmer at Greenhouse Tréminis, fully confirms the testimony of Mr. Blanc. According to the two mountaineers, the plane could crash into between the Grand Ferrand and small Obiou on the massif of the Aupet. 

Avalanches every thirty seconds.

Research that had been interrupted last night when the visibility was almost zero, resumed at 6:00 this morning. Initially, the visibility was much better than yesterday, about 250 meters. However the police and volunteers hoped the time would emerge to enable them to search the rocky bars of the combes Aupet and cons that are in there.At 9:30, 27 men: 20 policemen led by Lieutenant Marcel Jayet, company commander of Mure and 7 civilian volunteers Tréminis, Mrs. Blanc, Zanardi, Gauthier, Perre, Ranger of Tréminis, Gras, Franco and Carenini arrived at the cabin Sia in the 1400m altitude without too much difficulty, despite the casting of snow, fog and light rain, the caravan could win the bottom of the Grand Casse in 1634m. The increase became very difficult in the snow on a field gradient of 70%.At 250 meters from the rocky edges of the pitch, visibility was zero. But seven men roped together, guided by Mr Pinel, ski instructor and provided by their comrades marched eastward, but discover they owed nothing. A second team progressed to the Northeast. But soon the Lieutenant Jayet had to take the decision to discontinue research become too dangerous. Indeed, avalanches are triggered approximately every thirty secondes.one of them even caused by the passage of a plane nearly win the rescuers.At 15:00, the convoy was returning to his PC Tréminis. Research can only resume when the weather improves.


April 29,1963: 





THURSDAY LOST, THE AMERICAN HUNTER STRUCK THE FOOT OF GRAND-FERRAND.

IT'S A GROWER OF TREMINIS (ISERE) A PERMIT TO HELICOPTER IN FINDING OF DEBRIS.

The wreckage has been discovered at the foot of Grand-Ferrand. In the part circled in the photo (magnified in the document at right). You can see the wreckage from which landed the helicopter of civil protection. The document right is the pilot of the lark (helicopter), his mechanic and two mountain guides of the CRS 47. They just cover the remains of U.S. pilot in his parachute, was useless.
(photo Alfeno Quercioli taken on board the super Morane the Dauphine Libere)



PLANE CRASH THE GRAND FERRAND.


The helicopter of civil protection of Grenoble reduced the pilot's body was donated to the American commission of inquiry.

 
Grenoble, April 28. The snow was streaked with blackish track. This discovery made last night by the people of Tréminis (Isere), was this morning suggest another: that of the wreckage American "voodoo" missing since Thursday in the Alps.The wreckage had been spotted around 7:00 am, by a farmer Isère, between the tip Aupet (2610 meters) and the Grand Ferrand (2761 meters).Immediately the plan SATER (emergency aero-terrestrial) and was triggered under the command of Captain Legac, civil protection. Helicopters, planes were headed French and American at the scene of the accident.

The wreck apperçue by the grower.

It was 5:00 this morning, when Mr. Charles Gauthier left his house in the hamlet of the church and headed for the Grand Ferrand. Mountaineer, mr Gauthier managed with the snow slide where the blackish marks were noted.Using binoculars, he discovered the wreckage of the U.S. plane.Immediately, the farmer came down to the hamlet of Serre to give warning. While a relief column led by Captain Joly, commander of the gendarmerie group of Isere, started from the lark Tréminis (helicopter) Civil Defence took off and managed to land at 9:00 in the debris of the device.The pilot Leplus, Montmasson the mechanic and the two guides CRS 47, were the first to discover this sad spectacle.

"The wreckage covered an area of ​​300 meters, confided to his return Montmasson. When the unfortunate pilot, he was terribly shredded "

A U.S. Army DC4 from Dijon overflying of the disaster, and photographer on board of inquiry took many views.Meanwhile, the first four witnesses were preparing a droping area to allow heavy helicopters of the French army and American land near the site of the tragedy at the foot of Grand-Ferrand.

The fog was the cause of the accident.

At 10:00, the devices appear in the sky and turn the two U.S. helicopters and Sikorsky the base of the Bourget Lake piloted by Lieutenant Vigneras atterissaient on the snowy carpet speckled by the debris of voodoo. Guides the CRS 47 commanded by Lieutenant Duraud carrying the remains of the unfortunate parachute which he could not use served as a shroud, in the device.From the point of fall of voodoo, we could reconstruct the circumstances of this tragedy of the sky.Captain Wesley Brooks aged 28, from San Leandro (California), father of four children, had flown Thursday morning around 10:15 of the base of Laon (Aisne), with a mission to fly over my Italian border.The pilot hampered by fog and ignoring the treachery of our area had to repeatedly fly lower than the planned mission.Thus, several witnesses saw the aircraft nosed down and go back soon.Arriving Tréminis above, the American officer began a descent to escape the clouds that hindered visibility. This is alorsqu'il saw before him the rock wall located between the Grand Ferrand and the head of the Aupet. Then he began a vertical climb, but a split second too late. The plane caught the top of the pass and exploded.A few meters, the F101 could have avoided the catastrophe.

The inquiry comes in Grenoble.

In the afternoon, an American commission of inquiry which had boarded a Dakota, arrived at the airport of Grenoble.Fifteen officers responsible for establishing the causes of this accident composaiebt this commission, chaired by Major Knoche, the base of Dijon.The Sikorsky took off immediately for the lead officer on the scene.But the fog that enveloped the Alps, prevented any landing. This was to be remitted to lendemain.la remains of brilliant young officer, who just last month, was promoted to captain, was led to Laon, where a widow and four orphans ahead.

Jean Enkaoua.



April 30,1963:
COMMISSION INVESTIGATION YESTERDAY WENT TO THE SITE OF THE ACCIDENT OF AMERICAN HUNTER


Grenoble, April 29. After the discovery of the remains of American aircraft that crashed Thursday at the foot of Grand-Ferrand, the American commission of inquiry led by Major Knoche Dijon, visited this morning around 9 am, at the site of the accident.
It was 9:30 when the Sikorsky landed on the snow cover. American officers immediately gathered the wreckage and studied them carefully. Roped by the guides of CRS 47 commanded by Lieutenant Duraud, the officers went down to the point of percussion.
The first results of the survey confirm the thesis that we propose to our readers yesterday: that Captain Wesley Brooks realized too late the rock wall and had begun a tenth of a second too late rise vertically.


May 2,1963:

On the sidelines of the accident the Grand Ferrand


The plane of the rugged American commission of inquiry at the airport in Lyon - Bron.
Lyon, April 30. The DC3 carrying the American commission of inquiry charged with discovering the causes of aircraft accidents in the Grand Ferrand was injured when he parked on the parking area of the airport of Lyon-Bron. The air movement caused by the blades of the helicopter Sikorsky base Bourget du Lac, who had also participated in the research of American fighter plane crashed, was indeed severely damaged the empenage of DC3 will have to undergo extensive repairs before can fly again.
This curious incident that could have tragic consequences has so happily translated by a slight delay in the schedule of members of the Commission of Inquiry.


8/ Situation Maps :

 

 Europe & France

 




Crash site map



View 3D Google earth
UTM : 31 T
long :   723524
lat   :  4957374

9/ Others Pictures :




Malden Air Base 
Squadron IV
Class 1955-O (oscar)



Wesley J Brooks
1955




Wesley J Brooks
   1962-1963



In Flight (Brooks 119) ,Royal Flush VIII - 1963
somewhere in France....
Certainly, last photography of de Captain Brooks
(to be confirmed) 



10/ pictures right after the accident :

  (American investigation committee & others)







Version of serge (orange on the 3 photos above)





Special thanks to the Family of Fabien
(the underside of the left wing tip)

11/ Pictures of the current site :


Overview and Vidéo:






View from the plane
of Sam_tt:
Thank you very much, Sam
(from the south)



View taken from Tréminis.
top of cliff (main view from west)
thank you Michel.






Video taken from a autogyro of Gérard.
thank you very much Gérard !
(from the West)

Zone B1: 

 

General view from west 
with locating aircraft crash
(zone B1 - avalanche aera)



Zone B1 (bottom)
locating aircraft parts 


Zone B1 (top)
locating aircraft parts 
red=walkability


click on the link below to access the slideshow:



Zone B2 (over the crest) : 

Map B2 aera




View from cliff
(ridge of Grépoux)
Since South




View from the north side
(ridge of Grépoux)





View from the North-East side




View from cliff



View from under cliff


click on the link below to access the slideshow:



12/ Rescue Team : 

First Aerial Team (alouette):




helicopter pilot: Alfred Leplus (Freddy)
 


helicopter mechanic : Gaby Montmasson
CRS 47 chief   : Lieutenant Duraud
CRS 47 helper : unknown

other helicopter pilot: Lieutenant Vigneras

*********
  
ground search :

Military Police group:

Lieutenant Jayet 
Chef d'escadron Jolly
Capitaine Hourmant (Aerial coordination)
 
 *********
 

Civilian group:

*
Mr Pierre Blanc 
Mr Jean Claude Gras
Mr Charles Gauthier
Mr Auguste Zanardi
Mr Camille Serre
Mr Aimé Perre (Tréminis Ranger)
Mr François Carenini
Mr Daniel LUYA
Mr Jean Faure
Mr Bernard Barautaud
Mr Raymond Martin 

Investigation Committee :

*
Major Chuck Knoche
Mr George Cowgill
Mr Ray Hineli


13/ News and updated :



Last Update February 11, 2017

Thank you, the Brooks family and team Tréminis for the beautiful meeting in April, 2013. The memory stay strong and the emotion intact.




* Serge's visite to the archives of the Ministry of Defense in Paris
(Information to follow)





* Military police investigation folder (SHD Archives Vincennes (Paris)

 

* Map of overflights of Target 1  by aircraft 2 (Captain Brooks) and 3 (Unidentified Pilot)
The target is identified by the military p
olice investigation (archives of the SHD vincennes (Paris)
File in preparation ...



*********



Stele memory installed by the villagers of Tréminis June 28, 2013

********

 Requiescat in pace, Captain Brooks






6 comments:

  1. Hello ! I remember Capt Wesley Brooks I met sometimes at Laon Couvron Air Base. He was a jolly good fellow who could together laugh and concentrate on his risky job. He was a personnality. I was liaison officer at the French liaison Office working with Col Massengale at the HQ. That was a big loss but not the only one. Another crash occured at takeoff end of the runway loaded with JP4. Always a human tragedy ! God bless them all !

    ReplyDelete
  2. thank you for your intervention. if you have any information on this crash, I'd be happy to integrate them into the blog for this Pilot is never forgotten.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank all for your kind words and keeping my fathers memory alive, it has been great loss in my life.
    God Bless you all
    Chris H Brooks

    ReplyDelete
  4. thank you Chris
    Well you think you

    ReplyDelete
  5. Bonjour Serge.
    We are enjoying Paris, but after our incredible visit to Treminis and the wonderful/emotional events that took place marking the 50th Anniversary, Paris can not shine as bright as Treminis and our new friends.

    Thanks go out to my two new brothers Serge & Michel, lovely wife Anne-Marie. To Fabien and his kind father Ilse (sorry) for getting the ball rolling. To the Honorable Mayor Frederic for opening his heart & the town of Treminis to our small band of Americans. To Vallerie at the "The Feather of the Bird" Bed & Breakfast for opening her home, her life and her heart to these weary travelers!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hello.
    Thank you brothers.

    On this particular day, I have a thought for you all. I hope that the Brooks family as we will see in the Tréminis. Your father would be proud of you all.
    God bless you.
    April 25,2013 - 11:10.Z

    Serge

    ReplyDelete