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Thaz the guy

August 2 2010 at 10:43 PM

Vince  (Login MoxiFox)

Response to Just a guess...

Few younger folk today know or care so I don't use his name much.

Strangely too, I did a joint investigation analysis with a writer by the name of Larry Jordon, who was going to do a book on Jim Reeves, back in '99. He "swore" me to secrecy but ... has never released his book, so I feel his best-before date has expired by now.

All of the evidence seemed bizarre and inconsistent with pilot error to me. One of the most puzzling pieces was that the radar operator had spoken to him about 30 seconds before and told him to hold his course and he'd be ok. (He was in heavy rain and couldn't see). He was only minutes away from the Nashville airport where he was going to land and was flying straight for it. So the radar operator called him again and asked if he was out of the rain yet and Jim said, "Neg." and that was all. The operator jumped over to the radar screen to see his blip and saw a tiny speck in its place instead. That was the last they ever saw of him alive. The operator was totally baffled by this weird change.

Well, having studied electronics myself in 1967, I had a crash course on radar and I knew how they worked. It's a bit confusing to analyze the data from those old radar units because they were extremely elementary and revealed ONLY distance from the radar station. No vertical data registered. If a plane was 2000 feet up or 200 feet off the ground, as long as the radar waves hit the plane, the blip would be the same distance out from the center dot on the screen, provided the direct distance from the dish to plane was the same. Remember too ... if you've ever seen those displays, the beam SWEPT around the screen in a circle ...corresponding to the dish turning around in a circle up on the roof ... so it took a few seconds for the blip to register again, after seeing it the last time. They used slow phosphors on the screen to leave an after glow in order to register blips but once the sweep passed the blip, it merely registered where the target had BEEN. Between blip refreshes then, a lot of stuff could be happening in real time which the operator wouldn't see.

For a SPECK to show up then, where the blip had formerly been ... could only mean one thing: a small PIECE of the plane was still up in the sky at that point ... while the plane itself had dropped below radar detection.

So this had me totally baffled. How could a small piece of it somehow be up in the sky without some catastrophic explosion? Other evidence strongly suggested that the plane had gone down missing one wing. It had gone into a bullet spiral, it seemed, (which is the effect of one wing "lifting" continually without the other one to counter lift). The single wing then acts like a propeller to spin the fuselage around and around as the plane nose-dives to the ground. One of the signs of a wing breaking off is "skin wrap" found on the wreckage fuselage ... where the top skin of the wing has wrapped itself up and back over the top of the plane in a rearward direction, with the rest of the wing underneath broken away and gone. The wrap is caused by the plane spinning like a bullet from the other wing carrying the body around in a circle.

There WAS skin wrap showing in the wreckage photo. That had been one of the first things I noticed in the photo.

So it appeared that some catastrophe happened up in the air to blow off the passenger wing ... a piece of it was still flying up in the air, high enough for radar to detect it, but the plane itself was below radar detection range.

But how the dickens could that have correlated with Jim's last radio transmission? He didn't seem alarmed when he started to reply because he WAITED to be contacted (instead of yelling "mayday") and then, calmly enough pushed his mike button and said, "Negative." What in the wild blue yonder could have HAPPENED?

And then Larry sent me an email one day, relating how he had asked Jim's wife Mary about that afternoon. She told him that she was in a car, heading to the airport to meet him and saw the most incredible lightning bolt in the sky toward the SW, she'd ever seen in her life. She immediately thought about Jim of course, somewhere in the sky about there and it crossed her mind to "worry" about him in that second.

Well sure, he was going through one of those muggy day rain squalls and lightning was certainly part of them. I don't know why I never thought of lightning before. It now all added up. He pressed his mike button, the radio transmission was just enough of an ionic event to trigger a lightning bolt that was just busting to go. The bolt hit the antenna, shorting the end of his last word, carried on down to the very high power lines just below him and down to the ground. The bolt lit the gas in his wing tank and blew off the wing. It all happened almost instantaneously.

So-o ... there you have the premonitions ... and "fate" working together. There was nothing Jim Reeves could have done to avoid death that day except to NOT be in the sky! (They ruled it pilot error and the resulting lawsuit from the passenger's family bankrupted the Reeves estate. Mary made out pretty good later though, by releasing his unpublished tape recordings. Dirty rotters ... didn't want to sully Beechcraft's good name by finding that structural damage was the cause of the crash. They had very lucrative contracts with the U.S. army at that time).


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