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DaveTrojan

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Registered: 12/31/06
Posts: 1,617
 #1 
How Did Dean Martin's Son Die? Martin, an avid pilot, obtained his pilot's license at age 16 and became an officer in the California Air National Guard in 1981. He rose to the rank of Captain. He died in 1987 when his National Guard F-4 Phantom fighter jet crashed in California's San Bernardino Mountains during a snowstorm, killing him and his WSO (Weapons Systems Officer), Captain Ramon Ortiz.

SKATER REGRETS NOT TELLING DEAN MARTIN'S SON SHE'D REMARRIED The former wife of DEAN MARTIN's tragic son DEAN PAUL still has nightmares about the pilot's 1987 death - because she waited too long to tell him she had remarried. Ice skating star Dorothy Hamill has revealed she put off telling her ex she had wed another man - and Martin heard the news from a friend minutes before he took to the skies for the last time. Martin crashed his Air National Guard F4-C Phantom in California and died in the wreckage - and Hamill admits she has never forgiven herself for not telling her former husband about her marriage plans. In a new book, A Skating Life, Hamill explains, "The fact that he had to hear it from somebody else, and immediately before he was to command an F4 in the air, haunts me to this day." Hamill reveals Martin didn't approve of the skater's new husband, doctor Ken Forsythe, warning her, "He's no good... Watch out for this guy." The U.S. Olympic star later divorced her doctor husband and fought him for custody of their daughter, after the couple was declared bankrupt following a string of bad business decisions.

Anybody read the accident report or been to the crash site?
DaveT

CheckSix

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Registered: 11/29/06
Posts: 125
 #2 
Again, I have a copy of the crash report in my files - but it'll take some time to dig it out...  The good weather means a lot of flying!

But, if I remember right, the crash site is semi-accessible...

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theronmoon

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Registered: 01/05/08
Posts: 472
 #3 
The copy of the report that I have pins the location of the site perfectly though I believe it to be on indian reservation land. Or you have to access reservation land to get to the site on forest land. I forget which. Need to refresh my mind on the land issues there.

I have plans to fly over this site in the near future. The report does not state any details about why the accident may have occurred. It only states that the they both died.

My bestfriend flys with some of his old pilot buddies. He was a well liked guy within his group.

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theronmoon

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Registered: 01/05/08
Posts: 472
 #4 

As I recall it was considered weather related. I think the F-4 was lost for a couple of days also because of the poor weather conditions.


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pinecastleaaf

Registered: 07/07/11
Posts: 22
 #5 

As i recall from the report he was number 4 of flight of 4 and fell behind in a turn, used the burner to pick up some speed to catch up and then thru some combination of excess speed and poor angle was cfit, in bad weather of course.

RNester

Registered: 03/17/07
Posts: 14
 #6 

Hey guys, here are a couple of facts relative to the discussion and responses.  Dean Paul was #2 in a flight of 3, doing a radar trail departure.    If what Ms Hamill says is true, and if what she actually said is represented correctly in the original post, then he probably should not have flown that day.  However--and I realize it is 25 years later--one of the other pilots in the flight says to his knowledge, there was no indication Dean Paul was upset.  What Dorothy claims is disturbing, and it makes me wonder if he really found out just "minutes" before he climbed in the jet.  How many minutes?  30?  2,500?  Authors, the press included, are out to sell their products.  This would be a little sensational, if true.  The press already treated this event in a way that showed their real colors.  "Get the news out first, be sensational, don't worry about respecting family and friends" was their general mantra--with the exception of Bob Banfield, who was a Prince.  The cause of the accident was never positively determined, by the accident board or any private entity.  Those close to it have their educated ideas, but they are just that.  The crash site is on Indian land and is accessible, but I am not sure what needs to be done to get legal access and not be chased out or arrested. 


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Richard A. Nester
canyonair

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Registered: 11/29/06
Posts: 321
 #7 
Interesting topic. I have heard that his plane crashed just south of Ten Thousand Foot Ridge from where the Dolly Sinatra Learjet went down in 77. Pretty rugged country near San Gorgonio.

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10tweaker

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Registered: 12/01/06
Posts: 579
 #8 

I heard of the incident back in 92 when I was stationed in San Diego and I went out looking for a Mustang crash near Cajon Pass.  I was told by locals about the F-4 (and a B-29) and they said it impacted a cliff face at very high speed and it took a few days to get to the wreckage.  If anyone does go out there, I encourage them to get some local "guides" as I was warned that the folks out in that area tend to not like outsiders much--just sayin'.


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Vegasclimber

Registered: 09/14/11
Posts: 61
 #9 
Dave, interesting that you should bring this up.

I have been trying for months to get the AF to release the accident report on this site to me, without much success.

My fiancee and I have been planning to go after this site this spring. My understanding is that it's in a pretty remote location. Once we got a better handle on the location, we were considering chartering a bird in so that we could spend a couple days on site, then hike out.

As has already been stated, Dean went lost visual contact with his wingman, couldn't get clearance from an overloaded ATC, and selected afterburner - supposedly to get away from the mountain that they knew was approaching.

I remember reading a report on the crash, that stated that crew situation overload contributed as much as the bad weather, but I can't remember where I saw that.

If you would be interested in teaming up on this, let me know.

Here is a pic of the aircraft in earlier times.



RNester

Registered: 03/17/07
Posts: 14
 #10 

Vegasclimber, you sound like you might have 1st hand, personal knowledge.  True?


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Richard A. Nester
Vegasclimber

Registered: 09/14/11
Posts: 61
 #11 
Sorry RN, but no. I've just been doing a lot of research into this crash, as I normally do before heading off to locate one. I apologize if I gave the wrong impression
RNester

Registered: 03/17/07
Posts: 14
 #12 

It is a remote location.  I have gone there by helicopter and by jeep.  As we approached in the jeep, we decided it was too tough to climb, but we weren't appropriately dressed and equipped.  We pre-coordinated with the Indian tribe, but I don't remember exactly how because I didn't personally do it.  I don't think we really know if Dean Paul may have selected AB to catch up with his lead (not wingman), to avoid the mountain (which he was already above), or for some other reason. 


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Richard A. Nester
DaveTrojan

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Registered: 12/31/06
Posts: 1,617
 #13 
Richard A. Nester
How much wreckage is still at the site?
And do you know if it was a low angle crash or high angle crash
DaveT
RNester

Registered: 03/17/07
Posts: 14
 #14 

The site was cleaned up pretty completely, don't know what might still be there.  Last time I was there was 23 years ago.  Definitely high angle.


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Richard A. Nester
Fairlane66

Registered: 11/13/07
Posts: 171
 #15 
I'm reposting this from a previous thread.

Dino Martin and his WSO, Ramon Ortiz, were killed in this F-4 mishap.  Martin was a student pilot at Laughlin AFB, TX, when I was a T-38 IP in the 86th FTS.  Although I never flew with him, Martin had a reputation for being a fairly weak student. He was always doing something to catch flak.  In one case, his wedding or engagement picture appeared in Air Force Times.  Although just a 2Lt at the time, his picture showed him wearing gold major's oak leaves and a rack of ribbons he never earned, all because his publicist thought it made for better press.  As you might imagine, his willingness to stage such a picture didn't endear him to the IPs or the rank/file at Laughlin.  I also flew dozens of F-4 missions with Ramon Ortiz when we were stationed together at Taegu AB, Korea from 1979-1980.  Ramon was a great guy with a quick wit and a heavy Puerto Rican accent. 

While the exact cause of the mishap will perhaps never be known, here's how it was portrayed in The Blue Four News, a periodical recapping recent AF flight mishaps.  I clearly recall reading this because of my previous exposure to the crew, both Martin and Ortiz.  Martin and Ortiz were flying a radar trail departure.  For some reason, possibly a slow crosscheck, the pilot allowed the aircraft to decelerate below briefed airspeed and fall well beyond the desired 2-mile distance behind the preceding F-4.  Rather than use angular cutoff to close the distance as called for in the flight manual, the pilot tapped afterburner and accelerated to a very high speed which, in turn, significantly increased the aircraft's turning radius or caused him to become disoriented.  In either case, the result was impact with a sheer rock face.  I've heard the wreckage is in a particularly difficult location to reach.  Although I live in Colorado, if anyone ever decides to hike to the site, I'd really like to tag along.  If I cannot make the trip, I've very much like to see some pictures.  Since I had a professional relationship with both crew members and a personal friendship with the WSO, this mishap holds particular significance for me.


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