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December 11, 2005

Winged!

Steve sends a message that's "a forward from my (retired Navy Master Chief) father." It's about an amazing mishap in an F-15D. (Click the image for a larger view.) There's a story to go along with these images below.

I have some reservations about the story, though. Granting that it happened, I'm not sure that the text matches the images. For example, why does the story talk about an arresting hook and emergency recovery net for a landing that appears to have been made on land? You don't find tailhooks on airstrips, do you?

In any event, I found quite a few pages with the same (or a similar) story when I googled for this. One ot them appears below, since it contains more detail than the text Steve's dad sent him.

On May 1st. 1983, a simulated dogfight training took place between two F-15D's and four A-4N Skyhawks over the skies of the Negev. The F-15D (# 957, nicknamed 'Markia Shchakim', 5 killmarks) was used for the conversion of a new pilot in the squadron. Here is the description of the event as described in "Pressure suit":

At some point I collided with one of the Skyhawks, at first I didn't realize it. I felt a big strike, and I thought we passed through the jet stream of one of the other aircraft. Before I could react, I saw the big fire ball created by the explosion of the Skyhawk. The radio started to deliver calls saying that the Skyhawk pilot has ejected, and I understood that the fire ball was the skyhawk, that exploded, and the pilot was ejected automatically.

There was a tremendous fuel stream going out of the wing, and I understood it was badly damaged. The aircraft flew without control in a strange spiral. I re-connected the electric control to the control surfaces, and slowly gained control on the aircraft until I was straight and level again. It was clear to me that I had to eject. When I gained control I said : "Hey, wait, don't eject yet!". No warning light was on and the navigation computer worked as usual; I just needed a warning light in my panel to indicate that I missed a wing..." The instructor ordered me to eject. The wing is a fuel tank, and the fuel indicator showed 0.000 so I assumed that the jet stream sucked all the fuel out of the other tanks. However, I remembered that the valves operate only in one direction, so that I might have enough fuel to get to the nearest airfield and land.

I worked like a machine, wasn't scared and didn't worry. All I knew was as long as the sucker flies, I'm gonna stay inside. I started to decrease the airspeed, but at that point one wing was not enough. So I went into a spin down and to the right. A second before I decided to eject, I pushed the throttle and lit the afterburner. I gained speed and thus got control of the aircraft again. Next thing I did was lowering the arresting hook. A few seconds later I touched the runway at 260 knots, about twice the recommended speed, and called the tower to erect the emergency recovery net. The hook was torn away from the fuselage because of the high speed, but I managed to stop 10 meters before the net.

I turned back to shake the hand of my instructor, who urged me to eject, and then I saw it for the first time - no wing!

The IAF (Israeli Air Force) contacted McDonnel Douglas and asked for information about possibility to land an F-15 with one wing . MD replied that this is aerodynamically impossible, as confirmed by computer simulations... Then they received the photo....

After two months the same F-15 got a new wing and returned to action. McDonnel Douglas attributes the saving of this aircraft to the amount of lift generated by the engine intake/body and "A Hell of a good Pilot"

Posted by joke du jour at December 11, 2005 11:14 AM

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Comments

"why does the story talk about an arresting hook and emergency recovery net for a landing that appears to have been made on land? You don't find tailhooks on airstrips, do you?"

Sure you do. Standard procedure for naval bases. They have recovery nets and arresting gear for emergencies.

Lakehurst, NJ, for example, has all of that for training purposes. Gotta practice tailhook landings somewhere besides a ship for the first time:
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/lakehurst.htm

Posted by: PB at December 12, 2005 08:12 PM

OK, I'll buy that one. You live & learn.

Thanks -

Posted by: JdJ at December 12, 2005 08:55 PM

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