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Flashback Friday: Minnesota man sole survivor of Galaxy Airlines Crash 35 years ago

Updated: January 24, 2020 10:06 AM

Thirty-five years ago Tuesday, 71 people were killed when Galaxy Airlines Flight 203 crashed outside of Reno, Nevada. 

The sole survivor of the crash was Minnesota native George Lamson, Jr. 

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"What I remember is hitting the ground, waking up seeing the sky, thinking I was dead," Lamson told KSTP in 2015. "I feel gratitude for having a second chance to live."

Lamson and his father, George Lamson, Sr., flew to the Reno/Lake Tahoe area for the 1985 Super Bowl weekend when Lamson Jr. was just 17. 

As the Lamsons were set to return, the Galaxy Airlines flight they were on crashed. 

According to a 2015 KSTP report, Lamson Jr. and his father were sitting near the front of the plane by a bulkhead. The plane broke apart near them and they were thrown about 40 feet from the plane away from the explosion and fire.

Lamson Jr. and his father both survived the crash along with Robert Miggins, of Wayzata. George Lamson, Sr. and Miggins later died of their injuries. 

The cause of the crash, according to the NTSB report, was a series of tragic events. A ground worker at the Reno airport improperly closed an "air start access door" that came open shortly after take-off.

The small open door beneath a wing caused strong vibrations in the plane. That, in turn, caused a series of pilot errors as they tried to troubleshoot the problem.  

Lamson now lives in Reno, just minutes from the crash site. 

Lamson told KSTP there isn't a day that goes by where he doesn't think of his dad and the others who died. 

"I carry them around with me all the time," Lamson said. "They're with me 24/7."

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