The United States Air Force aircraft 61-0331 was a TRIA, Telemetry Range Instrumentation Aircraft, before the "Project III" conversion at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
61-0331 operated as a TRIA from 1967 until its 1971 transfer from the Air Force Eastern Test Range to the 4950th Test Wing Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. There were a total of 4 TRIA aircraft produced.
The most noticeable feature of the TRIA aircraft was the large radome mounted on the front of the plane. The TRIA shared this style radome with the A/RIA, Apollo Range Instrumentation Aircraft. Inside of the TRIA's radome were two drum style antennas along with the aircraft radar. Inside the aircraft were an antenna operations panel and equipment racks for the RF equipment. This equipment was removed from the C-130 tracking aircraft and installed into the TRIA aircraft.
LTV Corporation modified 61-0331 before arrival at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base by removing the T/RIA nose and installing a large radome atop the fuselage for a new series of tests designed to detect and analyze nuclear explosions and their related electromagnetic pulses (EMP).
The 4950th Test Wing operated 61-0331 for Space and Missile System Office (SAMSO). The aircraft deployed routinely to the "Burning Light" Task Force located at Hickam Air Force Base Hawaii. They monitored French atmospheric nuclear tests conducted at Le centre d'expérimentation du Pacifique (CEP), including Polynesian blast sites at Fangataufa and Mururoa Atolls.
61-0331 disappeared on 13 June 1971 while returning to Hawaii after observing the French Encelade atmospheric nuclear test at Mururoa. The aircraft was en route from Pago Pago to Hickam Air Force Base. All 24 crew members were lost, 12 of them civilians.
Donald E. Ashland
Captain Byron C. Burnett Copilot
Rola F. Blanchard
John P. Cahill
Thomas R. Connor
Charles V. Dito
First Lieutenant James M. Gilbert
Dean L. Hoar
Staff Sergeant Kenneth Steven Kowal
Major John R. McGinn
Technical Sergeant Hubert Miles Junior
Major William Edward Page Junior
Lieutenant Colonel Victor John Reinhart
Captain Perry Thomas Rose
Colonel Billy L. Skipworth
Edward M. Slagel
Anthony J. Theriault
John B. Tumas
Major William Herman Unsderfer Junior
Thomas J. Walter
Major Joseph B. William
Staff Sergeant Elno Roe Weimer