Accidents – Incidents 1961

23 January 1961 F-104C 56-931 435TFS USAF incident pilot ok
It encountered an accident at Moron AFB while being stationed there. It happened 21:08 Local time. It suffered damage when its afterburner failed to light on take off. The aircraft ran off the end of a wet runway following the aborted take off.  It could be repaired. Aircraft was planned to fly as lead in flight of two on practice night scramble from the alert hangar at Moron in overcast. Runway 21 was wet from previous rain. During engine run-up both aircraft had trouble holding their positions at military power because of the slick runway (this aircraft was able to get 99% RPM). During take off roll, pilot was not able at any time to get an after burner light and at a point past halfway down the runway with the nose wheel off the ground it experienced loss of thrust and a loud bang.  The nose wheel settled back on the ground and the pilot aborted the take off, stop-cocking the throttle and applying maximum braking and drag chute.  There was great difficulty maintaining directional control and braking due to the wet runway. Nearing the left side of the runway both main tires blew out with maximum braking and about 2,000ʼ of runway remaining. The aircraft departed the left side of the runway, missing the barrier, and entered deep mud. All landing gear then collapsed in order of nose, left main then right main. Left pylon tank and GAR-8 missile broke from the aircraft completely. Aircraft slid in the mud coming to rest 354 feet from end of runway and alongside the overrun. Pilot was Captain Robert E. Messerli, and gladly he was fine. The pilot lateron stated: I was leading a late night training flight and during take off just at lift off speed the aircraft (J79) engine compressor stalled. My airspeed at that time was about 190-195 knots. Naturally I had no alternative, but to effect and abort. The barrier on the departure end of the Moron Air Base runway did not fully extend the width of the runway and during the abort the left tire blew (no Anti-skid on the C model) and the aircraft veered to the left causing me to totally miss the barrier. After going past the end of the over-run both gear sheared and I came to a stop about 200 feet past the over-run and slightly left of the runway alignment. Luckily no spillage of fuel or fire and I just unbuckled and stepped over the side and walked away. We took the aircraft to the major repair facility in Madrid and it took them about three months to repair the damage. The engine was sent back to Sacramento, California for engine investigations. The International F-104 Society owns a copy of the official accident report. Beneath a photo showing 56-931 at Moron AFB (thanks to Blakeley) and two rough photos taken from the copy of the accident report.
9 February 1961 F-104A 56-761 ARDC USAF written off pilot ok
It crashed at the Buckhorn Dry Lake, 4 miles West of Edwards AFB. The pilot, Capt Albert Hanlin Crews jr. ejected safely. The aircraft from the ARDC toke off from Edwards AFB on a chase mission for an F-4H test flight. The aircraft rolled about 15 seconds after the F-4 and broke ground at appr 200kts. The gear handle could not be raised and repeated attempts failed. At 250 knots the throttle was retarded out of after burner and a definite bump or changeover occurred to confirm operation of the main engine only. Climb angle was increased slightly to reduce speed. The gear was retracted and the indicators were “up”. The throttle was advanced to the military power setting to accelerate the climb speed. On passing the runway control unit near the far end of the runway the exhaust smoke was reported to be darker or more dense than normal but the flame pattern was reported as normal for an after burner takeoff. The aircraft passed 500ft beyond mobile with the gear up at appr 800 feet altitude. Near the end of the runway a slight right turn was started to establish spacing relative to the F-4. The command radio was changed to the test frequency and the pilot started to raise take off flaps. Simultaneously a muffled boom was heard which the pilot said did not sound truly like a compressor stall. Airspeed was estimated to be 300 kts. Witnesses noted a very dark puff of smoke in the exhaust trail of the engine. A gradual loss of thrust was noted by the pilot. At 80 % RPM the pilot proceeded to break what he considered to be a compressor stall. The airstart switch was activated and the throttle was stopcocked, then moved to full throttle position (military). No response was noted. A second airstart attempt was also unsuccessful. About this time the pilot stated another “explosion” occurred. Witnesses observed a second dark puff of smoke about 500 feet beyond the first in the exhaust trail. The pilot noted no roughness in the engine before or after the explosions. Two additional clouds of smoke developed in very close sequence in the exhaust trail – perhaps 100 feet apart. Witnesses observed flames within the tailpipe as the aircraft reached the top of its arc. Then flames issues from the tail pipe thicker then the first followed by a very dense trail of smoke. The exact color of the smoke varied with the location of the observer. A witness on the ground south of the aircraft path described the trail being dark brown. A witness on the ramp, east of the trail described it as very dark. Airborne witnesses west of the trail described it as a contrail – white smoke. RPM dropped slowly through 80% but near 40% deceleration of the engine, seemed to drop faster. At this point with about 250 kts airspeed and 1000 feet of altitude but decreasing rapidly, the pilot realized that Rossmond Dry Lake was too far away for a flame out landing and he elected to bail out. The chute appeared to open around 500 feet altitude. A witness stated that the aircraft was trailing flames from the bottom of the tailpipe in a level altitude at the time of the ejection. Then it dove abruptly and crashed. Pilot was gladly unhurt.  The International F-104 Society owns a copy of the official accident report. Photo beneath shows the aircraft in the period it was intensively used for air-air refueling testing.
2 March 1961 F-104C 56-922 434TFS USAF incident pilot ok
This F-104 experienced loss of oil pressure and a nozzle stuck wide open shortly after take off and climb out. An emergency landing was made at George AFB but the aircraft departed the runway on landing roll shearing off all of the gear. The pilot 1Lt Richard Keith Clements, was not injured. Accident occurred during 3-ship aerial tactics training with Lt Clements as No. 2 in 56-922, Lt Linihan as Lead in 57-922, and Lt. King as No. 3 in 56-927. Shortly after single ship takeoffs the formation joined in a climbing left turn at 7,500’. Then as a climbing right turn was initiated Lt Clements noted the following instrument readings: EGT 600 degrees, 40 PSI oil pressure, 104% RPM. The formation was at 22,000’ MSL and Lt Clements had to reduce throttle to idle and use speed brakes to keep from over-running the formation. No.3 in trail noticed that Lt Clements nozzles were wide open. The EGT of Lt Clements aircraft with throttle at idle was 375 degrees. Lt Clements flew on Lead’s wing to a low key position for a landing from an SFO pattern. At low key Lt Clements noted his RPM was 100%, EGT 375 and oil pressure 40 PSI. The aircraft was configured with gear down, take off flaps down, speed brakes in, throttle in idle, airspeed 240 KIAS.  When manipulating the throttle from idle to Military there was little thrust change. Lt Clements turned a wide base leg and airspeed increased to 260 KIAS during the descending turn. He crossed the overrun at about 210 KIAS and touched down at approximately 200 KIAS. A good touchdown was made 500’ from the approach end and center of Rnwy 21. At 170 KIAS the drag chute was deployed, blossomed, and then failed.  At 2,200’ remaining the right main tire blew. The pilot noted 150 knots as he went by the 2,000’ remaining marker. He attempted to steer to the center of the barrier but departed the right side of the runway approximately 500’ short and 33’ right of the barrier.  At some point the main and nose gear failed. The F-104 continued 1,290’ beyond the end of the runway and came to rest 90 degrees to the runway heading. Fuel on board was 5,500 lbs. The pilot evacuated the aircraft immediately when it came to rest. He was not injured. The engine was still running and stop cocking the throttle did not cut the engine. After the main fuel cut-off switch was deactivated the engine windmilled down. The International F-104 Society owns a copy of the official accident report.
13 March 1961 F-104A 56-859 157FIS SC ANG written off pilot ok
It crashed 4 miles West of Swansea, South Carolina, 9 miles NW of North Field Apt. It toke off from home base Congaree AB and pilot Lt. Michael Martin Miller was ok although injured. The aircraft departed Congaree AB on a scramble mission and climbed to 35000 feet. After appr 15 minutes (0.9 Mach) the pilot was asked to move to 37000 feet. When he advanced the throttle to military setting he experienced slight deceleration. He noticed the RPM drop to 92 % then fluctuating between 92 and 96% accompanied by fluctuation of the exhaust nozzle and fuel flow. The pilot decided to break off the interception and headed back to for an emergency landing. Since he encountered severe problems handling the power of the aircraft he decided to land at North Field Apt at 12 N Miles. Very shortly after the engine flamed out at appr 83% RPM. A number of restarts (incl usage of RAT) failed and the pilot ejected at about 800-900 feet above the ground. Aircraft crashed and exploded in an uninhabited wooded area. Pilot was safe. The International F-104 Society owns a copy of the official accident report. Beneath a photo showing 56-859 at the Congaree AB flightline. It was in use with this unit from February 1960 till its loss.
17 March 1961 F-104A 56-819 151FIS Tenn ANG written off pilot ok
This Starfighter crashed 1.5 miles NNE from Rockford, 3.5 miles from home base McGhee-Tyson Apt, Tennessee. Pilot Major Robert Andrew Bennett was ok. He departed from McGhee on a functional check flight following an engine change. Immediately after takeoff, the gear control handle would not come out of the down position. The pilot limited the speed to try to get the gear up manually which succeeded. To assure that everything was ok he repeated gear down and up with the gear handle. As the gear retracted again the pilot experienced a loud thump, followed by a rise in EGT and a loss of RPM. The sound was not from the closing doors. The engine did not react anymore on the throttle and the pilot decided to eject when he noted the EGT at 950 degrees. His flight took 1 minute and 14 seconds from start to ejection. The pilot sustained no injuries, the aircraft was destroyed by impact and fire. The International F-104 Society owns a copy of the official accident report.
29 March 1961 F-104F BB+375 WS10 GAF written off pilots ok
This German Starfighter crashed after an after-burner failure near Korbach (Hessen). Gladly Hptm Hans-Ulrich Flade and Olt Wolfgang Strenkert could eject in time. Beneath some photo showing the two lucky pilots at the crash scene (thanks to Ulrich Flade) and left a newspaper article. Both took off from Norvenich that day for a training mission into the direction of Nordhessen. Around 10 o’clock the engine of the aircraft stalled while the aircraft was flying at 12000 meters near Korbach exceeding MACH 1. The crew tried to restart the engine but this failed. At 2000 m instructor Flade ordered Wolfgang Streckert to eject which he did. He landed on the roof of a petrol station. Hans Ulrich Fade passed the clouds and saw the houses beneath him. He immediately moved the aircraft to the direction at the edge of the Korbach to avoid the aircraft crashing on the city. At 1500m he ejected. Passing some powerlines he succeeded to land with his chute safely on the ground. The 104 struck at the railway dam of the Korbach - Berndorf line near the Flechtdorfer Strasse and it flew even along with a passing train as witnesses stated later. In the afternoon both pilot were brought back to Norvenich by helicopter.
7 April 1961 F-104A 56-757/757 ChinaLake US NAVY written off pilot killed
This US NAVY Starfighter, stationed at NAS China Lake, crashed just off the north end of the runway of George on takeoff from George AFB, USMC Capt. David Lanstaff Hess evacuated the aircraft but was caught by flames of the fire. He was badly burned and flown to Brooke General Hospital in Ft. Sam Housten, Texas  where he sadly died of his burns (burns covered 52% of his body) on 20 days later on April 28, 1961. He took off on a return flight to NAS China Lake. Witnesses saw the aircraft accelerating very slowly and it was much further down the runway than normal when lift off speed was obtained. The aircraft flew along the runway at low airspeed and very low altitude striking the top strap and one support stanchion of the overrun abort installation with the landing gear. The F-104 continued flying just above the ground with the main landing gear finally touching the ground approximately 2700 feet past the end of the runway, The landing gear broke off and the plane skidded along on a straight line through the desert disintegrating until it stopped, 4000 feet from the end of the runway and burned. The debris trail of scattered F-104 parts extended about 150 yds north of the fence to the burn pit. A runway extension completed about two years ago was completely erased. The cause was determined to be a not working afterburner. This could have been caused by a not reset afterburner ignition circuit breaker (Could be that the George AFB flight line personnel to activate all of the circuit breakers which prevented the after burners from firing during the take-off ) and the pilot continued flying without a working afterburner. The International F-104 Society owns a copy of the official accident report. Beneath a photo of this US NAVY Starfighter taken on January 1st, 1961, a few months before the aircraft was lost, showing the typical US NAVY markings. (Thanks to Gary Verver) Also two rough photos taken from the USN accident report.
56-757 F-104A 01JAN61 CLK LHL-242424_CorrectedX56-757_wreck_1961x56-757_wreck_1961_b
9 April 1961 F-104A 56-781 197FIS Ariz ANG written off pilot killed
This F-104A crashed 7 NM WSW of Phoenix Apt, Arizona on a radar interception mission on a T-33, as leader of a 2 ship formation. Pilot Maj Erich Julius Hettlinger was sadly killed while ejecting with his ejection seat. After pilot Hettlinger experienced radio difficulty the mission failed, both lost visual contact with each other, and both returned back to the airbase separately. While flying an approved penetrating CGI on return the pilot experienced malfunctioning speed brake control. One minute later he experienced having only 80% RPM. He was at 3500 feet and descending fast. Before ejecting he was advised to assure he was above unpopulated area. Then he declared a low-oil failure. Soon after the aircraft was seen crashing into a dry river bed without noticing a chute. The pilot ejected sadly unsuccessfully. The seat was found apart from the impacted aircraft. The IFS owns a copy of the official accident report.
5 May 1961 F-104A 56-855 151FIS Tenn ANG written off pilot killed
This F-104A crashed 3 miles NE Alcoa, Knoxville Tennessee, near McGhee Tyson AB. Pilot Capt. Luciano Guida (transition pilot from the Italian Air Force for the AFFTC Edwards AFB) was sadly killed in this accident. It all happened on his 12th flight in his F-104 transition program. Major R.B. Weinard was the leader of the twin flight. During the formation take off roll, Capt Guida did not get een afterburner light and he was informed by the mobile control but sadly did not acknowledge this (perhaps due to radio problems). He continued the takeoff and left the runway and crossed the overrun in a nose high attitude with the tail dragging. He maintained the attitude for 450’ beyond the overrun where he bounced briefly into the air for 170’ and then contacted the ground hard in a porpoise with all three gear for 360. He then bounced into the air again for 150’ and then his right wing dragged the ground for 120’ as he passed the ILS antennae. He again bounced into the air for another 300’ hitting the top of the 5’airport boundary fence which is 1800’from the end of the runway and continuing another 150’into an adjoining field. He lost the ventral fin and engine blow out panel and the ILS antennae. It went airborne again for 800’ clearing a deep ravine and then landing tail first.. At this point the aircraft began disintegrating. The canopy was found 200’ beyond the ravine so it would appear the pilot ejected between the ravine and the canopy. Aircraft was disintegrated and burned. Pilot did not have a change and was found near the seat in which he had ejected. It was a very tragic accident. Note: Capt Luciano Guida was undergoing type conversion with the Tennessee ANG and was selected for the Joint Test Force. It was his last flight at Knoxville, Tennessee. His place was taken by Capt Bonazzi.The IFS owns a copy of the official accident report
5 May 1961 F-104C 56-885 476TFS USAF written off pilot ok
While stationed at Moron AB in Spain a night interception training mission was flown by 4 Starfighters. One of them, flown by Dick Plummer in 56-885. After completing the first intercept, pilot Plummer told his wingman that he had the lead and maneuvered to his right wing position. while applying slight back stick to stop the settling, the stick suddenly moved to the full aft position on its own and the pilot was unable to move it forward. Immediately the airplane started a zoom which quickly ended up as a "pitch-up". The instrument panel was shaking. He tried to recover by lowering flaps to lower flaps to take-off position and jettisoning the tip tanks. The rest of the recovery procedure was impossible with the stick full aft. Being out of control the pilot had to eject, which he did successfully at 8000 feet. He came down but found out he had injured his knees badly by hitting the canopy upon ejection. He recovered and continued flying. The cause of the accident was due to a faulty small hinge pin which was too short and fell out of the feedback linkage in the elevator hydraulic valve during his maneuver to the right position of his wingman. Other aircraft were inspected due to this accident and some had to be fixed. Lateron the pilot stated: “The flight did not start out as a scramble to intercept an "unknown" but rather a normal night intercept training flight with four planes. After we climbed to an altitude of about 35,000' I called GCI and set up the first intercept as the leader of one element intercepting the other element. After completing this intercept, I told my wingman that he had the lead and as was my signature lead change maneuver I rolled over the top of him from his left wing to right wing. As I arrived on his right wing I applied slight back stick to stop the settling. At this point the stick moved to the full aft position on its own and I was unable to move it forward with all the strength I could muster. Immediately the airplane started a zoom which quickly ended up as a "pitch-up".  Being a mechanical engineer with extensive knowledge of the 104 systems I was totally baffled about what was going on. The instrument panel was shaking so violently that I was barely able to see that the engine instruments were normal as was hydraulic pressure. Recovery from a pitch-up was to lower flaps to maneuvering (take-off) which I did followed by jetisoning the tip tanks at 20,000'. The rest of the recovery procedure was impossible with the stick full aft. I had changed the radio to "guard" and kept the group advised about my problem. At 10,000" I said I was getting out and blew the canopy. At 8,000" I ejected.” He transferred to the Navy after 1963 and flew F-8s in the reserve for 6 years in Atlanta. The IFS owns a copy of the official accident report. Beneath a photo showing the crash site (from the accident report) and a photo showing the aircraft when it was used for the famous world record flight in December 1959.
5 May 1961 F-104B 4102 8TFS RoCAF written off pilots killed
(USAF serial 57-1300) This F-104B crashed in Taiwan sadly killing both pilots, SqCmdr Lt Col Yan Zhong-Hua (37) and Capt (Postumus Major) Yu Hong-Xun (31). After an interception training mission, during the approach at homebase CCK the aircraft entered a roll, probably caused by a "split flap condition" (asymmetric flaps) and crashed near the Northern runway. Yan was one of the first group of 104 instructors in Taiwan and commander of 8 TFS. The aircraft, operated by the 3rd Air Group, 8 TFS, was delivered almost 1 year ago. Beneath a photo taken in 1960 showing this F-104B 4102 when it just had been delivered.
13 May 1961 F-104C 56-884 476TFS USAF written off pilot killed
It crashed near Gondorf, Germany, while performing an airshow at Bitburg AB. Pilot Capt. William Laurent Mathews ejected but was sadly killed. His takeoff was followed by an Immelman. He made several rolls descending on a heading of appr 060 degrees. After that a lot more manoeuvres were made. Then he experienced problems with his g-suit, which kept the air inside under pressure. It is unknown what the impact of this was on the flight performance of the pilot but at a certain moment the aircraft engaged a pitch-up situation for 5-8 seconds. From 500-1000 feet the aircraft rolled very abruptly (probably to the right) into a steep nose down attitude. Just before impact the seat was seen to fire. The pilot did not have any chance since he was too low. The IFS owns a copy of the official USAF accident report. Photo beneath (by Norm Filer) showing this F-104C was taken above Spain late 1959 while being refueled.
22 May 1961 F-104D 57-1329 479TFW USAF incident pilot ok
This Starfighter encountered an accident on Tinker AFB, Ohio. The only pilot, Capt Robert Gerald Ashcraft was ok. He departed George AFB with 4 external tanks (he was instructor pilot) for a VFR mission to Tinker AFB. Upon making a radar approach to Tinker the pilot was sent around due to an emergency in progress. He remained clear of the traffic pattern until the tower stated that the emergency was terminated. The cross wind for landing was challenging especially since the F-104 had become light (low on fuel). To counteract the cross wind he flew down final at 170kts with left wing low and right rudder in. The touchdown was on the left wheel first, then the right wheel. Soon after the right main tire began leaving a heavy black skid mark. The right tire blew out shortly thereafter and the aircraft began to veer to the right. The right turn was stopped and a very gradual left turn started, but not enough to prevent the right main gear from going into the mud on the right side of the runway. Approximately as the left turn began, the pylon tanks were jettisoned from the aircraft. The pilot stop cocked the throttle when the right main gear went off the runway. The 104 continued for a short distance until the right main wheel struck a concrete abutment. At this point the right main gear sheared from the aircraft. The 104 continued on, crossing over the taxy way where the left main and nose gear sheared. It slid to a stop and the pilot could evacuate the aircraft safely. The aircraft was soon repaired. The IFS owns a copy of the official USAF accident report.
25 May 1961 F-104D 57-1330 435TFS USAF incident pilots ok
This F-104D suffered a landing accident at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio due to nose-wheel shimmy. Damage was minimal and the crew were safe. Pilots were LtCol Harold E. Collins (Pilot AFSC/ASD Fighter Ops Div at Wright-Patterson) and Capt Kenneth D. Ohman (Instructor Pilot 479TFW/435TFS). They were both on a TAC directed mission to flight test the refueling probe with the KC-135 probe-drogue adapter system. The aircraft was on temporary loan to Fighter Ops Div, Directorate of Flight Test, Wright-Patterson AFB. This day at 1215 hours, the aircraft participated in these tests with LtCol Collins in the front seat and Capt Ohman in the rear. The test portion of the mission was completed in routine fashion, and there was no nose-wheel shimmy on take-off. During landing with approximately 3,000 lbs of fuel remaining, touchdown was made at 155 KIAS at Wright-Patterson, the nose wheel was lowered and nose wheel steering engaged. Severe nose-wheel shimmy developed and nose wheel steering was disengaged. The nose wheel continued to shimmy. To correct shimmy the nose was raised and held off the runway as long as possible. When the nose wheel again contacted the runway the drag chute was deployed. Severe nose wheel shimmy continued with or without nose-wheel steering engaged. Nose wheel steering then failed completely and the aircraft was turned off the runway by using differential braking. It came to rest safely, there was no injury to the crew. Downlocks were inserted, the aircraft was shutdown, and towed to the parking area. Duration of flight has been 2 hours 5 minutes. The IFS owns a copy of the official accident report.
25 May 1961 F-104A 56-853 157FIS SC ANG written off pilot killed
This F-104A crashed into the Susquehanna River following apparent engine failure at take-off. The pilot attempted to bail out but did not survive (canopy was jettisoned but ejection seat apparently was not fired). Pilot was Brigadier General Barney B. McEntire of the South Carolina ANG, 169FG/157FIS. At 1514 local hours two F-104s took off from Olmsted AFB, PA for return to Congaree ANGB, South Carolina. Colonel Robert H. Morrell was flying lead with Brigadier General McEntire flying his wing. A normal AB take-off and lift-off commenced to a point approximately 2 miles from the end of Runway 31 at an IAS in excess of 350 knots and an altitude of 1,800 ft. At this time the wingman (General McEntire) transmitted that he had some sort of engine stall. This was the last intelligible radio transmission from him. Witnesses saw one or two explosions and saw balls of flame followed by black smoke coming off of 56-853. Flight lead immediately broke left and General McEntire leveled off at 2,000 to 2,500 ft. The aircraft then turned right following the course of the Susquehanna River and started descending rapidly. Witnesses stated that the engine was not running. The canopy was jettisoned at a point about one-half mile prior to initial impact and while the aircraft was at an altitude of about 200 to 300 ft. The F-104 impacted at the edge of a small island 7.42 miles from take-off position. Impact was nose-high, indicating the aircraft was under control at all times, power loss excepted. The aircraft started disintegrating and parts were scattered for a distance of 978 feet. The aircraft was destroyed and the pilot fatally injured. The crash occurred 2 naut miles and 325 degrees magnetic from Har-York St, or a quarter mile NE of New Cumberland, Pennsylvania in the Susquehanna River. One of the former 157FIS pilots stated that during this period they lost 6 104s and two pilots because of engine stalls caused by a faulty Bendix fuel control. One of these 2 pilots was Commander Brigadier General Barney McEntire who was then on a mission to attempt replacement of the Bendix control. On November 10th, 1961 the Congaree AB in South Carolina was renamed into McEntire to honor this Commander. The IFS owns a copy of the official accident report.
Beneath some newspaper articles and a photo taken at BirdField during a visit on 15 May 1960.
56-853_McEntire article 1 56-853_McEntire article 2 56-853_McEntire article 3 56-853_McEntire article 4 56-853_McEntire article 5 56-853_McEntire article
15 June 1961 F-104C 56-897 476TFS USAF written off pilot ok
While on deployment in Spain this Starfighter crashed 2 NM East of El Coronil, 6 NM South of Moron AB. Pilot Lt. Larry Moench Davis ejected and was ok. He flew a practice scramble intercept mission with Capt. Huffman as lead. After a normal takeoff, as Lt Davis moved his throttle out of afterburner into military position, he felt and heard a chug or thump accompanied by a vibration and a noticeable loss of thrust. His nozzle was full open and oil pressure was around 20psi. Assuming a nozzle failure he pushed the throttle into afterburner trying to light the afterburner. This was unsuccessful. Capt Huffman informed him to pull the emergency nozzle closure handle. This went fine and RPM was 70%. However he did not experience increase of thrust and RPM was limited to 70%. The 104 was now very slow, low and descending and stick shaker was operating. He was advised to eject and this went fine. The aircraft crashed into a hillside and exploded, scattering wreckage for about a quarter of a mile in the line of the flight. Lt Davis landed about 300 yards from the aircraft and was unhurt. He was picked up by a helicopter and returned to Moron AB. The IFS owns a copy of the official USAF accident report.
16 June 1961 F-104C 56-932 436TFS USAF incident pilot ok
This Starfighter encountered an accident after takeoff from George AFB but could be repaired afterwards. Pilot Lt. William Thornton Smith was ok. It departed George with another F-104C to fly to the Cuddeback shooting range on a practice mission for an aerial demonstration which was to be conducted as part of the Falcon 61 project. Upon arrival, appr 15 miles W of the range, both aircraft assumed appr 15 seconds spacing and started a shallow dive towards the range. They had to pass over the range supersonic and pull up to intercept a T-33. During the dive the pilot selected full afterburner and crossed the special weapons target at 1350 feet with 650kts. As the lead pilot began to pull up he experienced what he interpreted to be a severe compressor stall. He immediately performed the stall clearing procedure and obtained to restart which was successful. While climbing to 20000 feet he noted that both leading edge flaps were missing.. At 20000 feet he successfully extended the trailing edge flaps to the take-off position. While slowing to 220kts he encountered severe buffeting and declared an emergency, heading for Edwards AFB. The wingman told him that both main landing gear were extended, doors were missing and the nose gear was retracted. The leader then noted that the gear handle was “up”. However both main gear green lights were on, signifying that gear to be up and locked. He placed the handle to the down position and the nose gear seemed to extend normally, indicating down and locked. No fluid was noted streaming from the aircraft so the pilot made a successful straight-in landing at 240kts including a good working chute. The IFS owns a copy of the official USAF accident report which is sadly not clarifying the exact cause.
26 June 1961 F-104C 56-923 436TFS USAF written off pilot killed
26 June 1961 F-104C 57-917 436TFS USAF written off pilot ok
Both F-104C aircraft collided mid-air at 38,000’ while in formation. One aircraft was seen to disintegrate and fall inverted, the pilot did not eject and was killed going down with the plane. The other F-104C departed controlled flight and crashed but the pilot was able to safely eject. The pilots were Captain Daniel R. Klix in 57-917 and Captain Richard E. Derrick in 56-923). Both were based at George AFB, California (479TFW). The accident occurred in a five-ship formation flight (navigation and training mission) from George AFB, California to Andrews AFB, Maryland with a refueling stop at Richards-Gebaur AFB, Missouri. The flight departed George on the morning of 25 June and over-nighted at Richards-Gebaur. An early departure was made from Richards-Gebaur AFB on 26 June, and apparently the formation consisted of Captain Lougee in 57-910 flying as mission leader, Lt. McPeak in 57-914 No. 2, Captain Derrick in 57-917 No. 3, Capt Klix in 56-923 No. 4, and Lt. Drydahl in 56-914 No. 5 (this was the line-up for the previous day). The flight departed on an instrument flight plan maintaining visual flight conditions. There was no severe weather forecast. The flight leveled off in a cruise climb at 38,000’ in route formation. The selected route was direct St. Louis, J8V Charleston, J24V Flatrock and then direct to Navy Patuxtent River which is the letdown fix for Andrews AFB. A short time after passing Charleston’s VOR a collision occurred between No. 3 (Capt Derrick) and No. 4 (Capt Klix). After collision No. 4 (Capt Klix) entered a descent to the right and was last seen entering overcast. A short time after Capt Klix stated that he was bailing out. No.3 (Capt Derrick) was not seen again after disappearing out of the flight inverted and disintegrating, following the collision. Capt Klix ejected safely and was not injured. Capt Derrick did not eject and was fatally injured. Duration of flight was 1 hr 30 min. The crash sites are located approximately 28 naut miles southwest of Charlottesville, Virginia in the Blue Ridge Mountains area. Newspaper accounts state that Capt Derrick was found in the cockpit section of the F-104 approximately 1.5 miles from where most of his plane fell down. He was identified by his name tag. His aircraft came down 20 miles southeast of Lexington, Virginia. Witnesses saw Capt Derrick’s plane spiral down and crash 200 ft up a foothill of Three Ridges Mountain. Newspapers reported that Capt Derrick’s seat was ejected from the plane but the USAF accident report states that no ejection was made. Capt Klix’s aircraft crashed 15 miles south of Charlottesville and he landed not far from the impact site. Klix’s F-104 impacted on the farm of Daniel Van Clief at Old Woodville, near Keene, Virginia (nearest to Esmont, Virginia apparently). Capt Klix stated that he stayed with the F-104 as long as possible to avoid populated areas before ejecting. The IFS owns a copy of the official USAF accident report.
NOTE: There may be some confusion as to which pilot was in which aircraft. The USAF report places Capt Derrick in 57-917 and Capt Klix in 56-923 (as does the Master Log index). But the narrative for the flight from George to Richards-Gebaur from the day before has the reverse. Also, the wreckage diagram for 57-917 matches the description of Derrick’s crash. Beneath a number of newspaper articles and a nice photo of one of the involved F-104C Starfighters (thanks to Richard Moore via Hubert Peitzmeier)

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57-917_56-923_Derrick-Klix article 257-917_56-923_Derrick-Klix article 357-917_56-923_Derrick-Klix article 457-917_56-923_Derrick-Klix article 5
2 August 1961 F-104C 56-893 476TFS USAF written off pilot killed
This F-104C crashed 44 NM SE of Moron, 3 NM E of town Jubrique in Spain during a deployment. Pilot 1st Lt Johny Lee King was sadly killed. That afternoon 4 aircraft flew a 2 to 2 intercept and simulated air combat training mission. Pilots were Lt Tamm, Lt Plummer, Major Loeffler and Lt King. Lt Tamm and Lt King were the flight leaders. During this mission on one moment the other three aircraft lost contact with Lt King. It was just after they had been in a steep dive attitude. Then Major Loeffler noted smoke behind and below him on the ground and saw that this was the aircraft of Lt Kind who had crashed. The cause of the accident is unknown but could well have been caused by loss of control of the aircraft due to disorientation or technical failures. It crashed approximately 18 minutes after takeoff. The IFS owns a copy of the official USAF accident report.
5 August 1961 F-104B 57-1306 151FIS Tenn ANG incident pilots ok
This F-104B suffered a landing accident at McGhee-Tyson Airport, Tennessee following an AB nozzle failure in flight. The aircraft was damaged after leaving the runway with left main and nose wheel gear failure. Both pilots were uninjured. The crew was IP Captain Robert W. Cantrell with pilot 1Lt Taft L. Davis both of 140th ADW, 134th FG, 151st FIS, Tennessee ANG. This flight was a scheduled morning acrobatic flight in the local area, but just after take-off and AB climb to 35,000 ft two minor aircraft discrepancies occurred causing the pilots to abandon the acro mission. When the throttle was withdrawn from afterburner range the AB nozzles failed to close. Capt. Cantrell tried an immediate AB relight with no success. Unable to maintain altitude he started a turn back to base and notified them of the emergency. Nozzle over-ride had no effect from either the front or rear cockpit. The crew then went through nozzle failure procedure. Tip tanks were jettisoned over the mountains. Throttle was left in AB range to burn off fuel along with t/o flaps. A straight-in approach to Rnwy 04L was made from 11,000 ft.  The pilot extended the speed brakes and did several S turns to lose altitude. Repeated attempts to relight the AB failed. At 2,000 ft the throttle was retarded, slowing to 240K, and the gear was lowered. The engine was shut down while still airborne and touchdown was at approx 200 knots and 2,500 ft down the runway. Just after landing the nose was lowered and drag chute deployed.  The drag chute came out, blossomed, than immediately collapsed. During heavy braking the left main tire blew out with just 1,900 ft of runway remaining. The aircraft started a slow drift to the left and the pilot could not maintain directional control with braking action. The F-104 departed the runway at the junction of the taxi strip and the end of the runway at about 50 knots. The left gear struck an approach light and sheared off. Continuing into a left turn, the side load caused the nose wheel to shear off.  The aircraft came to rest in an area of runway construction resting on its left wing, nose gear doors and right gear. It had stopped 800 ft past the end of the runway and 90 degrees off the runway heading. The pilots escaped without injury. Duration of flight was just 7 minutes. The IFS owns a copy of the official USAF accident report. Beneath a photo showing this F-104B with markings of this 151FiS, taken around or in 1961.
57-1306 F-104B & F-104A 151 FIS Tennessee ANG
11 August 1961 F-104C 56-899 436TFS USAF incident pilot ok
This F-104C was substantially damaged after an emergency, hard landing which failed all three landing gear on Cuddeback Lake, California. The pilot was not injured. The emergency was initiated by a nozzle failure. The pilot was 1Lt Stephen M. Korcheck with 479-TFW, 436-TFS. Mishap occurred while flying a 3-ship bombing and gunnery mission at the Cuddeback Range. Two dry runs were made at Leach Lake, then four bombing runs done at Cuddeback. Two additional runs were then planned to burn off fuel. On the second of these passes Lt. Korcheck pulled off and experienced loss of thrust and an oil level warning light. His nozzles were open to 7 and oil pressure 20 psi. He pulled the emergency nozzle closure handle and the nozzles closed properly. Lt Korcheck climbed and turned to southwest and announced that he would land at Cuddeback Lake. His power was apparently good. The approach was normal until over the lake bed when depth perception was impaired by loss of vertical reference. The aircraft touched down hard which snapped the main gears on initial impact. Lt Korcheck felt that the landing was good and didn’t realize that he was riding on the MN-1A Dispenser. He pulled the drag chute but it did not deploy as the door was already damaged and the aircraft skipped and slid on the tip tanks and dispenser until the nose gear collapsed striking the canopy. The F-104 veered sharply to the right, breaking the fuselage just forward of the intake ducts and slid to a stop 160 degrees from the landing heading. Lt Korcheck opened the canopy, pulled the spur cutter handle and evacuated without injury. Duration of flight was 1 hour 9 minutes. The aircraft was extensively damaged but could be repaired again. The IFS owns a copy of the official USAF accident report. Beneath a photo of the aircraft taken in 1962, a year after the accident.
28 August 1961 F-104C 56-913 434TFS USAF written off pilot killed
This F-104C crashed and was destroyed on take-off from Runway 03 at Moron Air Base, Spain sadly killing the pilot. The pilot was Captain Jon N. Griffin with 434-TFS, 479-TFW. This fatal mishap occurred during a practice ADC scramble and GCI intercept from Moron AB. The flight consisted of two aircraft: Flight leader Captain Griffin and wingman 1Lt Roger Fritch in F-104C 56-908. Weather was clear, 15 miles visibility, temperature 91 degrees F, winds 090 degrees at 12 knots. The scramble klaxon was activated by 434 TFS Alert Control Center and both pilots checked in, started up, and taxied to the active runway 03 with no problems and positioned for a formation take-off at 0959 local hours. The initial part of the take-off roll was normal with wingman to the right. Both aircraft had good afterburner lights and at approximately 165 knots and after a ground roll of 3,300 ft Lead (Capt Griffin) rotated his aircraft into take-off attitude. Wingman 1Lt Fritch also initiated nose wheel rotation and had no trouble maintaining position. Both aircraft became airborne at the same time, however at this point, Captain Griffin’s aircraft settled back onto the runway. 1Lt Fritch flying wing was already airborne and gaining altitude and pulled ahead of Captain Griffin who was trying to raise his nose again. Captain Griffin proceeded down the full length of the runway to a point opposite mobile control (runway 21) where he initiated moderate to heavy braking action on the right tire. At 205 ft from the barrier the right tire failed. Contact with the barrier was made at a high rate of speed causing the barrier cable to engage the right main landing gear trunion and subsequently shear the right main landing gear from the aircraft. Immediately thereafter, due to the side loads being imposed on the left main landing gear, the left gear failed at the trunion. The aircraft slid and bounced on its belly down the 800 ft of overrun and on hitting the dirt area was thrown into the air for a distance of 216 ft, made contact with the ground and bounced into the air again. Contact was again made with the ground 207 ft from the end of the overrun. The aircraft continued on its belly on a magnetic heading of 032 degrees, cutting through an olive grove and hitting an abandoned building. On contacting the building the aircraft exploded and burned. The pilot made no apparent attempt to eject. Duration of flight was 5 seconds with maximum altitude reached of just 10-20 ft. The IFS owns a copy of the official USAF accident report. Beneath two news paper articles related to this tragic accident.
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31 August 1961 F-104B 57-1307 151FIS Tenn ANG incident pilots ok
This F-104B suffered a landing accident and was damaged at Campbell Army Air Field (Fort Campbell), Kentucky. Both pilots escaped without injury. The crew was IP Captain Alvin R. Ruthstein and student pilot 1Lt Errol L. Johnstad, both of ANG/ADC, 134-FG, 151-FIS, Tennessee ANG. The purpose of this flight was for Lt Johnstad to get his final dual ride prior to solo checkout. Take off from Berry Field (now Nashville IAP), Tennessee was normal and a touch and go landing was made on Rnwy 31 at Berry Field. Airspeed was at 175 knots on the rollout but as the aircraft crossed the runway threshold about 30 or 40 feet in the air both pilots stated that the rate of sink became excessive. Both pilots pulled back on the stick and throttled to Military but the aircraft struck the runway hard and bounced. Capt Ruthstein lit the afterburner and took the aircraft up and around. From this time forward Capt Ruthstein did all of the flying from the rear cockpit. Mobile control informed the crew that the right main landing gear had been damaged. Another F-104 was scrambled to check them over. This F-104 joined up and told the crew that the right main gear was broken off and dangling by the oleo strut. Capt Ruthstein decided to land at Campbell AAF (Fort Campbell, Kentucky) and requested the runway be foamed. When told this would take 25 minutes he decided not to wait and set up for landing. He burned fuel down to 600 lbs first. The F-104 touched down very light on the left main on Rnwy 22 at Campbell AAF, and the nose was lowered. The drag chute was deployed successfully and the right tip tank contacted the runway. Directional control was maintained with nose wheel steering for over 1,000 ft. As nose gear steering lost effectiveness the aircraft gradually turned right and departed the runway at the 3,200 foot mark. It continued another 400 ft ending up 90 degrees to the runway heading. The F-104 crossed a small ditch and collapsed the nose and left main gears. The pilots evacuated safely and there was no fire. Duration of flight was 6 minutes. The aircraft was repaired again. The IFS owns a copy of the official USAF accident report.
6 September 1961 F-104F BB+378 WS10 GAF written off pilots ok
This two-seater crashed after a total navigation-equipment-failure near Neckarmuhlbach and Siegelsbach (Near Mosbach/baden). This navigation problem resulted in running out of fuel and subsequent flame ouy of the engine. Olt Erwin Willing and Olt Hermann Hammerstein ejected and were safe. Beneath a small photo showing the aircraft around 1960.
7 September 1961 QF-104A 56-746 3205DS USAF incident pilot ok
During the landing at Eglin this QF-104A run off the runway and its undercarriage broke off. Pilot could step out easily unhurt. Aircraft could be repaired soon and continued again as QF drone. AFSC, APGC (Air Proving Ground Center), Eglin AFB, Florida. This QF-104A took off from Eglin AFB, Florida at 1000 LT for a test of the remote controlled approaches at Eglin Aux Field #3. The stabilization and control equipment malfunctioned and Capt William Henry Fields of the 3205 DS (Drone Squadron) did fly touch and go landings for pilot proficiency. After a normal touch down he felt a roll tendency of the aircraft. Trying to raise the flap handle, he raised the landing gear lever. Recognizing the mistake he applied full Mil power to get airborne again, but the aircraft settled back on the runway about 6,000 feet down. He shut down the engine and skidded off the left side of the runway and came to a stop 600 feet from the end. The pilot Capt Fields was unhurt. The IFS owns a copy of the official USAF accident report. Beneath a very rough photo from the accident report showing the aircraft on its belly.
7 September 1961 F-104A 56-811 151FIS Tenn ANG incident pilot ok
This Starfighter was damaged after an accident at Eastover ANGB. Capt Tseng-Hsi Teng, Taiwanese AF pilot, was scheduled for his fist solo flight with 1/Lt McClure as chase pilot. All was normal until staring the take-off roll. Capt Teng selected Afterburner, but didn’t get an Afterburner light. Despite several calls from the chase he continued the take-off and rotated at the end of the Rwy. Leaving tire marks in the overrun, he retracted the gear. The aircraft struck the ground several times and settled in a soybean field almost 4,000 feet from the Rwy end. The pilot received major injuries and the aircraft was extensively damaged, but repaired. The IFS owns a copy of the official USAF accident report. Beneath a rough photo found inside the accident report.
29 October 1961 F-104C 57-926 435TFS USAF incident pilot ok
This F-104C suffered a ground accident preparing for t/o roll at Ramstein AB, Germany when on deployment. The right main landing gear had apparently failed. There was no injury.Pilot was 1Lt George F. Tommasi with 435-TFS, 479-TFW. He was commencing take off on runway 27 at Ramstein AB, Germany for a 2-ship practice air defense mission. When full Military power was attained prior to take off the pilot heard a loud BANG and felt the aircraft settle onto the right wing. The pilot shut down because the aircraft was resting on the right pylon tank. The aircraft was removed from the runway without further incident and could be repaired. The IFS owns a copy of the official USAF accident report.
14 November 1961 F-104D 57-1326 476TFS USAF incident pilots ok
On this day this F-104D departed the runway upon landing at George AFB, California. The crew was safe. The aircraft was piloted by 1Lt David H. Groark (student) and Captain Sam C. Henley (IP) both with 476-TFS, 479-TFW. This accident occurred following a normal, night checkout mission for Lt. Groark in the front seat (approx 1900 local time). Approach and letdown to Runway 16 at George was normal although one go around had been made when Lt Groark had lost too much altitude and airspeed on the first attempt to land. Downwind and base legs were adequate and the final approach looked good to mobile control, tower and both pilots until a point about 2,000’ from the end of the runway. At this point the IP (Capt Henley) told Lt Groark to add power and grabbed the stick himself. Immediately thereafter the aircraft struck the overrun approximately 780 ft short of the runway threshold. The F-104 bounced about 4 ft in the air and again touched down on the overrun when it then bounced up to and on the runway. The IP gained control and maneuvered the aircraft onto the runway with rudder. The IP attempted to maintain control with left brake when on the runway and the drag chute was deployed. The F-104 veered off the runway to the right and could not be controlled so the IP stopcocked the throttles. The aircraft departed the runway to the right 2,000 ft past the landing end, went down a slight decline and up a slight rise of sand where it came to a stop about 360 ft off the side of the runway at an angle of 60 degrees off runway heading. The 2 pilots abandoned the aircraft without incident. Duration of flight was 1 hr, 35 min. The IFS owns a copy of the official USAF accident report.
21 November 1961 F-104A 56-756 AFSC USAF incident pilot ok
It encountered an accident at Edwards while being flow by McDivitt. It was soon repaired. It suffered a landing accident on an FCF following control problems in which the aircraft experienced violent roll oscillations and made an emergency landing on Edwards Main runway. The pilot was not injured when all three gear were sheared or folded back and the aircraft slid/bounced to a stop off the runway. There was no fire and the f-104 was repaired. The pilot was Captain James A. McDivitt, AFSC, AFFTC, 6512-Test Group based at Edwards AFB, California. Captain McDivitt took off from Edwards AFB, California on an FCF for stabilizer servo and control actuator that had been installed the previous day. The flight progressed normally for approximately 25 minutes during which time the flight control system responded normally about the pitch, roll and yaw axis. Shortly after these flight control checks were made the pilot attempted to turn toward base for a supersonic run down the corridor to test flight controls at high speeds. During this turn the pilot noticed very small pitch oscillations in the stick and as the turn continued the aircraft started roll oscillations. The aircraft was indicating .93 mach and 35,000’ at this time. The roll oscillations diverged until the stick itself was going full travel in both directions. The pilot could not overpower the stick movements even by using two hands and both legs. Turning off the roll dampers only aggravated the oscillations. The pilot then observed the Master Caution light, the hydraulic flight control warning light and the auto pitch control (APC) warning light illuminate. The No. 2 hydraulic system indicated 3,000 PSI at this time. The pilot was not able to check the No. 1 system pressure but did turn off the APC switch. The pilot managed to bring the aircraft under control at 30,000’ and decided to let down and attempt to land. The pilot declared an emergency and all crash stations were alerted. During the let down slight oscillations in roll were encountered twice at 15,000’. These stick movements were controllable by the pilot. The landing gear was lowered and T/O flaps extended. Control was maintained about all three axis at 200 knots. An attempt was made to land in this configuration but upon reaching 3,000’ the roll oscillations began and go-around was executed. At this time the flight control hydraulic light went out and the pilot then noticed the No. 1 system indicating 1,350 PSI. The No. 2 hyd system still indicated 3,000 PSI. A second attempt was made to land in the same configuration but this time at 235 knots. Approximately 75’ above ground the roll oscillations commenced and became divergent causing the aircraft to roll almost vertically each way. During these oscillations the F-104 contacted the ground on the left gear causing it to fold back under the wing. The rolling motion continued and at the left side of the runway at the 5,000’ marker. The aircraft bounced through the sand shearing the right main and nose gears off. The aircraft came to rest 650’ off the side of the Edwards main runway. The engine was shut off and the pilot escaped uninjured. There was no fire. The aircraft was repairable. This pilot (retired) BrigGen James A. McDivitt later flew in the Gemini and Apollo space programs. He commanded Gemini 4 and later Apollo 9 which was the first manned Earth orbital test of the Lunar Module. He became Apollo Spacecraft Manager. The IFS owns a copy of the official USAF accident report. Beneath a photo found inside the accident report. Although rough copied it clearly shows th slight damage.
25 November 1961 CF-104 12712 Canadair CAF written off pilot ok
This starfighter, still owned by Canadair at Montreal, crashed and burned on its first flight from Cartierville Airport,  after the pilot, Bruce Flemming, lost control during a routine check of the automatic pitch system. It was likely a 'rigging' problem. The pilot ejected safely. The Starfighter crashed near Montreal. One of the statements afterwards: it was a misrigged gear door which disabled the Stall warning and moved the aircraft into a deep stall. Sadly there are no photos known showing this Starfighter complete. Beneath a number of interesting other photos thanks to Canadair, Bob McIntyre and Bob Kidd. The persons on the photo pointing to the aircraft in the factory are unknown. The International F-104 Society owns a copy of the official (although brief) Canadian accident report.
27 November 1961 QF-104A 55-2966 AFSC USAF incident pilot ok
Being converted to a QF-104A drone this 55-2966 ("QFG-966") made an Air Force acceptance flight on November 27, 1961 from Air Force Plant 42 at Palmdale. Modification was done by Lockheed, California, assigned to AFSC. Pilot was USAF Capt Richard Bragg Hunt. An unsafe gear indication on take-off could be solved and the mission was continued to a Mach 2 run and airframe evaluation. The Drone stabilization and control equipment (DSCE) system check was planned on an ILS approach. At that time the landing gear did not come down, it was recycled and the emergency release handle was pulled. This time only the left main gear came down safe. On landing on Rwy 22 the pilot bounced the aircraft to shake loose the right main gear without success. After a smooth landing the aircraft pulled to the right off the runway and came to a stop 315 feet to the right and 100 degrees off runway heading. Pilot Capt Richard Hunt was ok, aircraft was repaired and operated afterwards as QF-104A again. Beneath a photo showing the aircraft at the accident scene (found inside the accident report) and a photo showing the aircraft at the flightline shortly before the accident with the AFSC markings. After repair it was sprayed orange all over and transferred to Eglin AFB 3205DS. The IFS owns a copy of the accident report.
55-2966 55-2966
9 December 1961 F-104A 56-841 157FIS SC ANG written off pilot ok
During a morning practice two-ship intercept mission this F-104A experienced several compressor stalls and engine failures near Moron AFB, Spain. The pilot was forced to eject when the engine would not air-start. The aircraft crashed into the sea and was lost. The pilot ejected safely into the water with no injury. Pilot was Captain Vincent H. Billingsley, 157-FIS. Captain Billingsley, flying as lead in a two-ship intercept mission, departed Moron AB, Spain, leading a VFR mission on a target near Moron. Climb-out to 35,000’ was normal at about 0950 local time. After completion of target intercept radio contact became poor with “grapenuts” on VHF and UHF. Let down was made to Moron. Passing Gibraltar at 20,000’, this flight of two leveled off at 5,000’ four to five miles from the coast. Approximately one mile before passing abeam of the Malaga Airport, Captain Billingsley advanced the throttle to acquire climb speed when he experienced a severe compressor stall. He stop-cocked the throttle and was able to air-start the engine.  Turning to Malaga Airport the engine again compressor stalled. Another engine stall clear was attempted but the engine stalled again. The pilot activated the IGV switch to manual and attempted another stall clear, but could not regain normal power. A total of 5 air-starts were attempted but the engine continued to stall. At about 1,500’ and 220 knots Capt Billingsley ejected. The aircraft crashed into the sea 8 miles SE of Malaga Airport, Spain. Captain Billingsley went into the water a short distance from the crash. None of his survival equipment was available to him as it wasn’t hooked to the parachute harness. He did have his Mae West which he used once in the water. His wingman (Captain Lahm) capped the crash site and was relieved by Lt McClure on a test-hop out of Moron AB. The pilot was picked up shortly after by a Spanish fishing boat and taken to Malaga. From Malaga he was taken back to Moron AB by C-47 in good health. Total time of flight was about one hour. Pilot reported that the RAM was not extended and gear and flaps were up and speed breaks up. Per the report, the aircraft crashed 3.5 nautical miles SE of Malaga. Aircraft was stationed at Moron AB during deployment “Stair Step”. The IFS owns a copy of the official USAF accident report. Beneath a photo showing the aircraft a few months earlier (14 may 1961) at Andrews AFB taken by David Lucabaugh.
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