He intended to die or be rescued by the divine intervention of God
November 19, 1998
Reported by David Martin

Investigators Focus on the Story of Abraham National Security Correspondent David Martin Reports


Thursday, November 19,1998 - 08:16 PM ET

"He intended to die or be rescued by the divine intervention of God"

Air Force Investigators

(CBS) On April 2,1997, Captain Craig Button, flying an Air Force A-10, took off from an Arizona airstrip on what was to have been his first live bombing mission. Instead of heading for the target range, his A-10 ended radio contact and he flew north disappearing into the Colorado Rockies. It would be weeks before the wreckage of his plane was spotted on Gold Dust Peak 15 miles outside Vail, Colorado.

Even after the wreckage and the pilot’s remains were recovered the mystery continued. Was it a mechanical malfunction that caused the pilot to black out while the plane flew north until its fuel was exhausted?

Or was it something else?

CBS News Correspondent David Martin reports that the Air Force has now concluded that Captain Button deliberately ended his own life.
Investigators have now pieced together the following sequence of events:

The flight which ended on the side of a Colorado mountain was to have been Craig Button's first live bombing run.

For Button, according to the Air Force, the art of flying was about to become the science of killing. He told one friend he was "learning to kill people" and his performance in training slacked off.

Just days before the flight, Button was visited by his father and mother, a devout Jehovah's Witness who disapproved of his dropping bombs. Investigators later found a Jehovah's Witness publication next to Button's bed which described the biblical story of Abraham sacrificing his only son as a burnt offering on a mountain, a passage which, according tom his roommate, Button found very troubling.

The night before the flight, Button got a mysterious phone call. Button's roommate told investigators he thought it was Button's mother and the call upset him.

The Air Force report includes a psychological profile which said whatever was bothering Button ”boiled to the surface ... immediately before he was going to drop live bombs for the first time.”

According to his instructor pilot, Button was late for his pre-flight briefing and appeared apprehensive before taking off from his base in Arizona. Once airborne, Button broke away and flew toward the Colorado mountains where, according to the profile, he ”intended to die or be rescued by the divine intervention of God at the last possible moment.”

Button's plane carried four 500-pound bombs which have never been found. What Button did with those bombs his mother disapproved of may never be known.

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