Thirty years ago today, Galaxy Airlines Flight 203 crashed shortly after taking off from the airport in Reno, Nev. Most of the victims of the crash were from Minnesota. They’d flown to Nevada for Super Bowl weekend.
Most of the passengers died in the crash and resulting fire. A few held on for a day or so. Only one person survived and when a memorial is dedicated in Reno today, George Lamson won’t be there.
“I don’t want to be remembered as the boy who survived this accident,” Lamson tells USA Today. “I want to be remembered as the man that lived. Life is a gift for which I am always grateful for. Thank you to all that have helped me along in my journey.”
He told his story to CNN last year.
Lamson was 17 at the time of the crash, a senior at Cretin-Derham Hall High School. He and his dad, George Sr., traveled on the charter. Some of the fans went on to the Super Bowl in Stanford. Others traveled to Lake Tahoe.
“As we pulled on the scene, I noticed a seat sitting out in the street and I radioed to the the crew that was following us to check it out,” George Kitchen, a captain at the Reno Fire Department, recalls. “It ended up being the only survivor.”
Shortly after takeoff, the pilot reported a severe vibration. According to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation (See report, .pdf), he reduced power to the engines. It was a fatal mistake.
The plane crashed while attempting to return to the airport.
There was, in fact, no problem with the engines. A ground worker hadn’t closed an access door properly, causing the vibration.
Today’s dedication isn’t the first time a plaque was dedicated to the dead. The other was stolen, apparently for its value as scrap metal.
Here are the victims of the flight.
1. Gordon Glenn Aune, 51, Eagan, Minn.
2. Milton Carter Bakken, 46, Madison, Wis.
3. Bruce Loren Barton, 34, Edina, Minn.
4. Idan Allen Burton, 30, St. Paul, Minn.
5. Harold Edwin Carlson, 48, St. Louis Park, Minn.
6. Harold Clifton Combs, 68, St. Paul, Minn.
7. Judith Ann Conrad, 41, Ortonville, Minn.
8. Gerald Conrad.
9. Robert Lee Dosedel, 46, New Richmond, Wis.
10. Gregory George Drummond, 47, Anoka, Minn.
11. Barbara Ehlers, 40, Wayzata, Minn.
12. David Ehlers, 40, Wayzata, Minn.
13. Cynthia Ann Evans, 23, Bloomington, Minn.
14. Ray Fanum, St. Paul, Minn.
15. Robert Herbert Filk, Hutchinson, Minn.
16. Kay Fragale, 40, Minneapolis, Minn.
17. Louie Fragale, Golden Valley, Minn.
18. Salvatore Lawrence Fragale, 41, Minneapolis.
19. Sherida Jean Fuecker, 36, Willmar, Minn.
20. Steven Anton Fuecker, 36, Willmar, Minn.
21. Kathleen Geary, St. Louis Park, Minn.
22. Luvern Joseph Goodman, 67, St. Paul, Minn.
23. Jack W. Granfors, 47, Lindstrom, Minn.
24. Mary Lou Granfors, 39, Lindstrom, Minn.
25. Ken Chung Hsueh, Minneapolis.
26. Margaret Jasperson, 64, Edina, Minn.
27. Richard Jasperson, 60, Edina, Minn.
28. Steven Hayward Karrman, 47, Madison, Wis.
29. William J. Koski, 53, Minneapolis.
30. Harold Lloyd Kriese, 55.
31. Mary Ellen Krachey, 46, New Hope, Minn.
32. Carol Ann Lass, 48, Decorah, Iowa.
33. Jerry Arnold Lass, Decorah, Iowa.
34. Dennis Lawrence Lindall, 44, Prior Lake, Minn.
35. Elizabeth Lindsey, 33, St. Paul, Minn.
36. Robert Albert Lockwood, 47, Minneapolis.
37. Daniel Medhanie, 30, Edina, Minn.
38. Arlene Ann Monroe, 54, Grand Rapids, Minn.
39. David Drury Monroe, 58, Grand Rapids, Minn.
40. Basilia Morales, 28, Florida.
41. Tamara Morris, 23, St. Paul, Minn.
42. Roger Allen Odell, 32, Ashby, Minn.
43. Frank Pobuda, Hopkins, Minn.
44. Sally Ann Pobuda, Hopkins, Minn.
45. Richard John Rizzo, 31.
46. Hazel Velma Saba, 55, Wyoming, Minn.
47. Phyllis Sandager, 38.
48. Betty Louise Smith, 53, Willmar, Minn.
49. Warren Kenneth Smith, 57, Willmar, Minn.
50. Donald Burton Spector, 51, Golden Valley, Minn.
51. Carol Lee Spievak, 41, Edina, Minn.
52. Melvin Edward Spievak, 43, Edina, Minn.
53. James Charles Sullivan, 47, Edina, Minn.
54. Howard William Tralmer, 61, Tomah, Wis.
55. Alice Tralmer, Tomah, Wis.
56. Paul Enphinen-Pin Tsen, 37, Brooklyn Park, Minn.
57. Karen Ann Weaver, 45, Golden Valley, Minn.
58. Edward Alan Wicks, 46, Decorah, Iowa.
59. Janenne Wicks, 44, Decorah, Iowa.
60. Daniel Francis Witt, 33, St. Paul, Minn.
61. Agnes Yakymi, Minneapolis, Minn.
62. Michael Yakymi, Minneapolis, Minn.
63. Robert Miggins, 45, Plymouth, Minn.
64. George Lamson Sr.,41, Saint Paul, Minn.
1. Allan Heasley, 49, Captain, Pompano Beach, Fla.
2. Kevin Charles Fieldsa, 27, Flight Officer, Boca Station, Fla.
3. Mark Freels, 33, Flight Engineer, Florida.
1. Heather Coston, 23, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
2. Donna Cutillo, 25.