Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Edwin W. Lewis, Jr., Colonel, USAF (Retired)May 19, 1936 – November 08, 2007
Colonel Edwin W. Lewis, Jr., a research pilot at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center and director of operations for Civil Air Patrol’s Pacific Region, died Thursday November 8, when the CAP Cessna 182 in which he was flying crashed into a mountain outside Las Vegas. He was 71.
The cause of the crash is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board. Ed was born in New York City and began flight training as a Civil Air Patrol cadet in 1951. He received a bachelor’s degree from Hobart College, N.Y., and entered the U.S. Air Force through the ROTC. He served from 1965 through 1966 in Vietnam, where he was a forward air controller, flying more than 1,000 hours in the O-1 “Bird Dog” aircraft. He earned a Bronze Star medal as well as a Distinguished Flying Cross. He then joined Pan American World Airways as a pilot. Lewis served with the California National Guard while working for Pan Am. He retired as commander of the 129th Air Rescue and Recovery Group. He took early retirement from Pan Am in 1989 to join NASA. He flew for eight years at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View and at Dryden since 1997. Lewis had served in the Civil Air Patrol as California Wing commander from 1978 to 1982, Pacific Region commander for four years and was elected national vice commander in August 1993.
Ed was preceded in death by his parents and brother John. He is survived by his wife of 37 years, Midge Lewis of Castro Valley and sons Eric of Castro Valley and Steve of Los Angeles; sisters-in-law, Beverly Lewis of Utah, Sheila Conway (Jack) of Petaluma and Beverly Borges (Jeff) of Modesto; nieces, Susan Tsutsumi (Paul) of Palos Verdes, Kathy Lococo (Larry) of San Anselmo and four great- nieces and nephew.
A Memorial Service was held Saturday, November 17 at Transfiguration Church, Castro Valley. Additionally, A memorial observance in Southern California was held Friday, November 30, at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the CAP Lewis Scholarship Fund, c/o Pacific Region CAP, PO Box 4718, Hayward, CA 94540.
Edwin W. Lewis Jr. became an owner/resident at the Skypark in January of 2001.
The news that Ed had crashed during a routine flight on the evening of November 8th, 2007, came as a shock to all who knew him. At age 71, he had logged some 28,000 hours during his flying career.
Still unexplained at the time of this posting, the crash occurred while Ed, accompanied by good friend and fellow CAP officer Dion DeCamp, were returning from Las Vegas to Rosamond in N-881CP, a brand-new turbocharged C-182 owned by the CAP. Reportedly this was to be the last flight of a long day that involved repositioning of both NASA and CAP aircraft, with as many as eight legs flown in various planes. Weather was VFR and the time was approximately 7:15 PM, about two hours past the end of nautical twilight. The aircraft impacted at about the 6500 foot level of 8,500 foot high Mount Potosi, approximately 20 miles southwest of McCarran airport and almost exactly on a GPS direct course from Nellis AFB (their presumed departure point) to Rosamond.
Ed is survived by his wife Midge and two sons, Eric and Steven.
The following bio provided by NASA details the professional life of a “pilot’s pilot”. He will be greatly missed.
Edwin W. Lewis, Jr NASA Dryden Pilot.
From NASA: Prior to his untimely death in a light plane crash in November 2007, Edwin W. Lewis Jr. served NASA for 18 years as a research pilot at the Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., and the Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. Lewis flew a variety of research and mission support aircraft during his 10 years at Dryden, including NASA’s DC-8 airborne science laboratory, a modified Gulfstream-III, Beechcraft B-200 King Air, Lockheed YO-3A and the Beechcraft T-34C Turbo Mentor. He also served as Dryden’s Aviation Safety Officer.
Prior to transferring to Dryden in late 1997, Lewis flew 10 different research and support aircraft at NASA Ames — a C-130B, the C-141A Kuiper Airborne Observatory, the DC-8, UH-1, SH-3, King Air, Lear 24, T-38A, T-39G and YO-3A – in support of NASA research missions. He was also project pilot for Ames’ 747 and T-38 programs.
Lewis was born in New York City and began flight training as a Civil Air Patrol cadet in 1951, ultimately earning his commercial pilot’s certificate in 1958. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology from Hobart College, Geneva, N.Y., and entered the U.S. Air Force through the Reserve Officer Training Corps.Following pilot training he was assigned to Moody Air Force Base, Ga., as an instructor pilot, for both the T-33 and T-37 aircraft. He served in Vietnam from 1965 through 1966, where he was a forward air controller, instructor and standardization/evaluation pilot, flying more than 1,000 hours in the O-1 “Bird Dog.”
Lewis separated from the regular Air Force and joined Pan American World Airways and the 129th Air Commando Group, California Air National Guard (ANG) based in Hayward, Calif. During his 18 years with the California ANG he flew the U-6, U-10, C-119, HC-130 aircraft and the HH-3 helicopter. At the time of his military retirement with the rank of colonel, Lewis was commander of the 129th Air Rescue and Recovery Group, a composite combat rescue group. During his 22 years as an airline pilot, he flew the Boeing 707, 727 and 747. He took early retirement from Pan American in 1989 to become a pilot with NASA.
Lewis had also been active in the Civil Air Patrol for more than 50 years, serving as the organization’s California and Pacific Region commander and national vice commander. He had also received numerous awards during his military career, among them the Distinguished Flying Cross.