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Thread: PS - Key Dismukes

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011

    PS - Key Dismukes

    Dear Friends of Key Dismukes:

    It is with great sadness that I tell you that Key peacefully died yesterday, October 14th at 10:50 am. at home in the loving presence of his family. He fought his cancers so hard for so long, but never gave up the hope of getting into the cockpit, just one more time, thermaling with eagles, running fast under a cloud street, and thrilling to the joy of flying and the camaraderie of dear friends.

    Barbara Burian Dismukes

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Schleicher ASW-24

    Re: PS - Key Dismukes

    Having earned a doctoral degree, which he coupled with his love of aviation, Key was productive on an international scale and the contributions he made to aviation safety are virtually innumerable. Just google his name... "key dismukes nasa ames" - you'll be enlightened by such a search. The search references go on and on. His contributions undoubtedly enhanced flying safety on a worldwide basis. See Key and Barbara on this link:

    Research done by Key as a NASA Scientist was taught to pilots during our annual training classes in the 1990's at American Airlines, and years before that, his Papers were a part of the United Airlines Aircrew Training Program in Denver.

    It's unexplainable to me how our memories work, but I do remember Key gave a very good lecture on that very subject at one of our VSA Seminars, and even shared that same lecture with the world by publishing that same material in Soaring Magazine. Key was a giving and unselfish person.

    I first met Key at Lagoon Valley Soaring in the 1980's and we've been friends ever since. He and I shared many experiences. Many of you may be aware of some of them - because I post a lot of our adventures, but there were loads more than what you may never have even heard about. Granted, some of our adventures may have included pushing the envelope a bit too much, and then having to use our superior skill to recover, but that's living life to the fullest. If you will indulge me, I'll think back on just a few of the memories.

    It was a great day to fly far and fast, but it was not as good of a day as we had hoped. These were the days before Dr Jack had created the wonderful aviation forecast tools we use these day. We launched from WSC, and had an easy flight a hundred miles up the road (The Mendocino Mountains) to the Trinity Alps. The cu were scattered along the Alps in a picturesque fashion and we were ecstatic. Then the realization hit us. There was zero evidence of lift to the south of us. Our enthusiasm got the better of us. All of the clouds had evaporated and the ones above us were dissipating rapidly. Key suggested maybe we should head to Montague and spend the night there and come home the next day. We had a plan, and off we went. Good motel, good Mexican food that night, and the next day we were headed for home. We started too early and we each had to take a relight to get going. Passing T-16 we once again ran into trouble, but we did managed to make it as far as a landout at Rancho Tehama Airport in the Central Valley. Key phoned WSC and asked Rex if he would fly Key's beloved 182 up to Rancho to pull us home, and Rex did just that. With two tow ropes attached to the C-182, Rex gave us a double tow back home to WSC, safely ending another fun adventure. That C182 was probably the last private plane I have flown. Key had landed at Lampson and trusted me enough to fly his 182 over to Lampson so he could retrieve his own ship. I was glad to oblige, and made it over there uneventfully - thank heavens! Once there I jumped in his ASW-20 and he jumped into his Cessna and back to WSC we went.

    Years later, flying the ASW24- OJ, I was foolishly trying to keep up with Key as we headed towards Yolla Peak and I slid off the Mendos to the east. I promptly landed at Rancho Tehama Airport - for a second time, but this time Key rescued me by gliding back to WSC, hooking up the trailer, and providing me with a ground retrieve - once again having us back home before dark. A friend you could count on.

    Or a trip from Truckee down to Bishop (to retrieve the Egg) (and almost return again) was another adventure Jim and I shared with Key. You may have read about that one.

    On the other hand, Key's recovery at Mammoth Lakes by Jim, Nina and me was more of a social adventure, with all of us enjoying the delectable midnight snacks made by Nina.

    Less exciting, and more local was the retrieve that Tony and I did just east of Boca Reservoir. The lift needed to get back to Truckee was at Verdi Peak, but it dwindled as Key arrived from the east. Not having other options, he used his superior skill to land safely in a small field sprinkled with sage brush. An amazing feat by an amazing pilot.

    We could count on each other when it came to help. For many years after our 1995 adventure we talked about Ferdinand the bull who was the only cow in the field I had selected for my landing near Crazy Creek. As it turned out, Ferdinand was not the challenge, it was the fact that we needed to carry the dissembled glider, bit by bit, across a stream to get it packed into the trailer.

    When Key and Jim came to my rescue along I-5, south of Yreka, the retrieve was much less adventurous.
    And then there was my most recent retrieve on Octoberfest here at Williams just a few years ago. The engine on the motor-glider wouldn't start, and I was shortly on the ground in Capay Valley. Key and Jim arrived within the hour and we were back at WSC in time for dinner. Good buddies! So many memories. I could fill pages.

    It was my privilege to have been his friend. I will miss him.
    Peter Kelly

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011

    Re: PS - Key Dismukes

    As Peter said, it was a privilege to have been Key's friend. And that is all that I can bring myself to say about it right now.
    Jim D. - 1B

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011

    Re: PS - Key Dismukes

    Soaring Family of Key Dismukes,

    Key’s family will hold a private Memorial/Celebration of Life Saturday, October 31, 2020, at 3:00 pm PDT in the WSC Aircraft hangar.
    (The Gliderport Facilities will be closed for operations/public from Noon through the end of the day)

    If you wish to attend the event via Zoom, please email Noelle for the link.

    If you wish to share a story during the event, please get in touch with Noelle about having it read or you can make an audio recording in your own voice/style to be played at the service.

    “PS” will be missed dearly in our community. Our hope is this uniquely planned event, allows us to celebrate his life in a place that he loved to spend time while keeping those attending in a safe environment.

    In lieu of flowers, we hope you consider making a charitable contribution to:

    LightHawk – Volunteer pilots for environmental conservation (Key flew for them)

    Doctors Without Borders – Independent, global medical aid provided where it is needed most

    Second Harvest – Local Food Bank serving all in need
    A charity of your choice

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