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.
Initially unexplained, [ Addendum: NTSB Full Narrative ] 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.
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.
A memorial gathering for Ed was held at Dryden on Nov. 30, 2007. View the press clipping HERE.
With Ed in the C-182 was his long-time friend Dion E. DeCamp, a fellow CAP officer and also an extremely experienced pilot with 27,000+ logged hours. The following bio material is from the CAP's press release:
DeCamp, 73, of Reno, Nev., became commander of the Nevada Wing in 2003. Most recently, he led the wing’s initial search efforts for Fossett, who disappeared on Labor Day during a solo flight in Nevada. The search for Fossett, who has yet to be found, was the largest in the Civil Air Patrol’s modern-day history.
DeCamp's wife, CAP
Lt. Col. E.J. Smith, also served as search incident commander during
the Fossett mission. He is survived by adult son, Michael, and two
daughters, Kristin and Gayle.
DeCamp joined CAP in 1994. He served as Nevada
Wing director of operations, vice commander, representative to the
Nevada state SAR Board and Pacific Region director of operations
training before becoming Nevada Wing commander.
DeCamp was a CAP and USAF command pilot with more than 27,000 flight hours. He was retired from the California Air National Guard, served in Vietnam and flew C-130 missions worldwide. He retired, as captain, from American Airlines in 1994