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Julian Baucom begins Martin-Baker approach. Photos by Rodney Rogers in another RF8, using Bay 2 camera.

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Following the murder of Gen. Marion Carl, many tales and tributes to this amazing man have poured in. A special page has been set up for them. Click here to go to General Marion Carl's page.



I was there at Fallon during the gunnery deployment when someone inVF-191 shot down Don Herriot. Although no one ever proved it conclusively, it was generally understood that it was Walt Wray. Walt was in the flight when it occurred and he had been repeatedy chastised by the flight leader and operations officer about making "sucked runs".

Don was towing in an old Panther (F9F-2, I believe) and had adopted a pretty laid back approach to flying. At the time the bullet struck and set off a fire warning light, Don was eating a package of Lorna Doones, with his oxygen mask off of course.

During that same gunnery deployment a VU-7 JD tow plane took a 20 mm. in one engine. The plane returned to Fallon and shortly afterward the Skipper of VU-7 arrived for a conference with the VF-191 CO. Other than those two was a good deployment!

Battleaxe (Paul Gillcrist)


One of the highly etched "occurences" that comes to mind while keying this is the loss of the main generator(F-8E)while riding out a thunderbumper. That Cadillac turned into a procedures trainer on springs.

Lee Bausch


While on an instrument check we were above the soup VFR, and were told by Cherry Point Approach the ceiling was 3500 broken, and light rain. Bob SNOWBALL Snow, my check pilot, told me to shoot the approach, which I did ,requesting a radar pickup for a GCA. We went into heavy rain about 10,000ft, radar pick use up at 5000ft clearing use to decend to 3000ft. Bob is still on my wing, with it raining like hell, and its solid IFR. Approach says perform landing checks at which time Snowball breaks off saying lost contact and says to me " If you make it on top you got an up"



Regarding gunnery records, I go back to my tour of duty as an instructor at the Fleet Air Gunnery Unit, Pacific at NAAS El Centro. There are two which your marine correspondent should be aware of: a. In about 1957 a fellow instructor, then Major Peter Paraskos, fired 200 rounds in a bonefide gunnery exercise (shooting at a 6' x 30' banner in a Cougar, I believe) and scored 151 hits for a 75.5%.

b. Earlier by a year or so another instructor, Jack Waits, scored a higher percentage but without firing out all of his rounds (it was something like 85 hits for 98 fired...I will try to check with Jack to verify the exact numbers.

By the way, if any FAGU instructor got any hits on a tow plane he would have been court-martialled...!

Battleaxe (Paul Gillcrist)


re: Battleaxe's %hits stories -- can go one better....sort of. On a Gitmo deployment, we were strafing an instrumented target - a tank - on Culebra (Culebrita?? not sure). On my first run, one gun fired one round, the other none, then both jammed. One direct hit, 100%. And I didn't even get an award.

Fireball Johnson [webmaster]



I don't mean to beat Barry up further, but the following true story is one, that one would need the best fiction writer to match, and even then probably wouldn't. .I'm a bit hazy on the date, and carrier, but someone can probably correct me if I screw it up. However, the basic story is true.

I was in VF-154 in the '61-'62 timeframe (we had F-8,2Ns), and Barry was scheduled to come to us. He was finishing the RAG, and I believe he was qualing on the Coral Sea, and it was at night. The plane ahead of Barry landed, taxied up to the front port bow with the nose just short of the bow, and was going through his checkoff list prior to shutting down.

Barry was next in the groove, got a bit low, hit the ramp, the gear carried away, and the plane skidded up the angle deck in a shower of sparks, nose pointed a bit to the port side, and the fuselage angled right wing down. Rather then riding it off the angle into the water, Barry did the only thing he could and ejected. Fortunately, the seat functioned quite well, and Barry arc'd up the straight deck in the night air and landed on the turtle back of the aforementioned F-8 that was shutting down. The jar and perhaps the basic seat function caused him to separate from the seat, and he and the seat went over the bow with his chute streaming. The next thing the pilot getting ready to shut down knew, the plane captain was giving him a frantic shut down signal with the wands. He got out and the F-8 had performed a minor miracle. Before he shut down, the F-8 sucked Barry's chute canopy up into the intake, and pulled Barry back up over the bow, and there he was hanging by his shoulder straps from the lip of the intake. Fortunately, the shutdown was in time to keep Barry from going down the intake with his chute. I think he got credit for his accident plus a FOD job on the other F-8. Needless to say, he spent some time in the hospital recovering, and missed joining VF-154.

At one time or another, we have all missed "buying the farm" by some miracle and a lot of luck!!!

If anyone can fill in more details, or correct any errors, please do so. This was some 36 years ago, and although I have total recall, sometimes it "craps out".

Jim Rough


Now the way I recall it, and it's only from the story that was current in the fleet at the time (no personal knowlege!) is that the F-8 which was hit was piloted by the Skipper. He had taxied forward when all of a sudden there was a bright flash behind and to his left, followed by a thump on the back of his airplane, a large commotion, and a bunch of people frantically signalling "shut down!" He shut down, got out of the airplane, and saw his wingman lying on the deck with the flight-deck crew cutting him out of his harness. The Skipper is supposed to have ended his statement to the mishap board with the words, "And that's all I know. It was very dark, and very confusing!"

Can anybody verify my (admittedly feeble) memory?

Milt Bank


The time was '62, the squadron VF-24, the ship Midway. The plane that Kunkle hit with him and seat was being piloted by the skipper of the squadron CDR Henderson. One of the factors that kept Kunkle from going down the duct was a flight deck crewman grabed and hung onto his ankles.

George Clare


Hi Jim, and the rest of the 'sader crowd--

When I was an ASO with VFP-63, I used to receive F-8 AAR's from all over the fleet. I read of an accident similar to the one you describe, but maybe even more spectacular:

During a Crusader catshot, a mainmount collapsed. The pilot ejected immediately, and with chute streaming, landed on the canopy of an F-8 behind him. He fell to the steel deck, whereupon the next Crusader in line began eating the chute. It got its mouth full about when the pilot was hanging like a drowned rat below the intake. The pilot suffered a broken hip.

Does anyone remember who, when, what ship, and what squadron?

Slim Tinsley


I was eye witness to a similar event on one of the east coast carriers. I can't quite remember which carrier it was, though I believe it was the one painted gray.

This was 1961/62 time frame. I went out on the flight deck to take in some sun, or whatever. F-8s were in the landing pattern. I was Bsing with someone when I heard what you would say was an unusual sound, even for a flight deck. I turned around just in time to see the main mounts go under on an F-8. Sparks and flames started shooting out from the undercarriage as the plane headed for the end of the angle deck. As the aircraft reached the end of the angle deck the pilot ejected. With the angle of the aircraft, and the wind, the seat went off the port side, with the chute opening just in time for the pilot to get one half a swing before hitting the water. The brain cell I had the pilots name store in must have died, though I do believe his last name ended with SKI or SKY, and I want to say his first name was Larry, though can't be sure. I did come across him a year or so later as an IP with the VF-174 RAG. Does anyone remember this one?

Tony Farinella


I'm not even close when it comes to gunnery records, but do recall one F8 compex while in VF-194, circa about 1966. The squadron was at MCAS Yuma on a gunnery detachment. Compex rules were to have four guns loaded with 35 bullets a gun for a total of 140 and only two runs. During the 20,000' compex, I shot off the banner on my first run. I was told that if desired, we could start over and not worry about that banner. I felt there had to be some beans in that bag so declined and caused a helo to go out and find said rag. Upon count, there were 49 of my hits out of 91 fired. That afternoon, using the same bird and 39 rounds left in the count, I was able to get 11 more for a total of 60. I believe you needed 28 for an 'E'. Later, at 30,000', where I recall the requirement for an E was 17, and 7 was a qual, I think my count was 28 hits. I've always been reluctant to beat my chest about those numbers because that was a canned drill without the fog of war. There are some truly great gunners out, and some combat tested Mig killers in our midst, but on that detachment, things worked out pretty well for me.

Snake Morris


An earlier posting had mentioned using Zuni rockets on the F-8. We used them quite a bit while I was in VMF-235 in Da Nang in 1966. That and the 20mm were really the only accurate air to ground we carried on the F-8 (and the only things I was trained in prior to going to RVN.) The Zunis were very accurate, and we commonly carried 8, sometimes along with wing stores. One of the targets I hit with a Zuni was church (abandoned I suppose) that had a machine gun operating out of it giving our grunts some trouble. The stone church had long, narrow windows and an intact roof. I was able to put the second Zuni I fired through one of the windows, thus "silencing" (as the FAC said) the gun. But here's my Zuni story: one of our aircraft had been griped for a Zuni station not firing. The electricians went to work, first overriding the squat switch safety (all ordinance stations were normally depowered with weight on gear). With one Marine in the cockpit, the other at the station (with Zuni removed), they set up their wiring continuity equipment. Marine outside says "Select station three and hit the pickle." Seeing nothing happen, he calls, "Hit it again." The Marine in the cockpit was apparently unaware that the station selector automatically stepped to the next station each time the pickle was hit, which it did. Station four had a live Zuni in it, and since the squat switch safety was overridden, the Zuni fired - about two feet in front of the electrician doing the continuity check. Since the F-8 is somewhat nose-up when sitting on the ramp, the Zuni made a nice arcing flight from the Marine flight line, across the runway (active of course) and hit the Viet Namese Officers Club about a mile away. Bomb Damage Assessment: killed - two VNAF pilots who were reportedly sipping martinis; and destroyed - approximately $26,000 of booze. As chance would have it, our squadron flight surgeon, affectionately known as Daneeka and the only Navy officer in the squadron, was on the flight line at the time. The Marine who'd had his face a couple of feet from the Zuni was distruaght - semi-hysterical and sobbing. Someone suggested to Daneeka that he should see to the lad. Mustering up all of the bedside manner at his disposal, he approached the Marine, and with hands on hips demanded, "OK, now what did you do?" After that incident, it became policy that we didn't work on aircraft with live ordinance on them.

John Doherty


In 1968, while I commanded Air Wing 19, all of the squadrons were doing FCLP in preparation for embarkation on Ticonderoga. The air wing was based at Lemoore with the two fighter squadrons, VF 191 & VF 194 at Miramar. One night I received a call at home from the VF 194 skipper. He said there had been an incident and that one of his pilots had taken off, at night, with the wings folded. Ltjg Joe Garuba had completed one bounce period and went through the fuel pits to hot refuel for his second period of the night. He taxied back out to the active and took off. Since the LSO's were on the other runway they didn't notice that his wings were still folded. After takeoff he tried to spread the wings to no avail, so he flew A VERY WIDE pattern and landed the airplane on the long runway. The airplane suffered only very minor damage but there was major damage to Joe's ego.

Sorry Joe but since this was only the second time I had ever heard of the F8 being flown with the wings folded, and the first at night, I feel you should go down in F8 history.

Phil Craven


Larry, Ed Kwasoski(sic) "Panatela) apologize for not remembering how to spell Es's last name. Great aviator and fine Marine, passed away a few years ago. Sure he would not mind the story. With VMF-235 Beaufort..Ed was test pilot and one of the finest F8 drivers around. Went up with F8 to check it out. Fuel control went to 87 or 89 percent(memory is weak). Shot approach according to book...about four miles out aircraft went down faster than forward...Ed ejected. Craft went into expensive cabbage patch. Board said Ed was wrong...went approach duplicated it did not work. 4 to 6 months later while at Key West hot pad for Cuba Ed took off sucked up a big bird...a/c flamed out Ed bailed ground qualified and sea qualified. About 8 months later while taking off from DaNang at night Ed came up with" I have a generator warning light, I have a pc 1, pc 2 failure, I have a fire, I am night overland combat qualified...Ed said hell with this...went to Okianawa as safety officer for rest of tour...None of these were his fault.




I left VMF-235 in July '66 in order to troop and stomp with with the grunts as a FAC. After I left the squadron, a major, former helo driver, departed Danang AB at night, wings folded, serious ordnance aboard - 4 500pounders on each wing. All attempts to unfold the wings and continue the mission were futile. The major dumped the bombs in the South China Sea and made a successful, wings-folded landing back at Danang. The Crusader was one tough bird. Ron Foreman, Lou Pritchett, or Orson Swindle probably have more info on this incident than I do.

Al Nease


Sorry to inform F-8 drivers of earlier folded wings take-offs and landings at night. In 1966 In VMF(AW)-235 at DaNang we had an F-8 take off at night fully loaded including two 2000 lb bombs. He set the world land speed record at night on takeoff. After flying around for awhile in the rainy, black night, the pilot decided to land. But, in the process of trying to concentrate on landing with all the flashing cockpit lights and the strange green and red flashing lights overhead and outside the cockpit, the poor devil landed wheels up! He injured his back and was medivaced home after landing hard on the 2000 lb bombs in an overweight crusader. The saga doesn't end there. The next year, 1967, a pilot named Scobee was standing hot-pad duty when scrambled to support ground troops in contact with NVN regulars. Scobee was #2 and given a quick thumbs up from flight leader, Black Jack Carr, without noticing the folded wings. The planes were kept in revetments which required folding the wings. Scobee was a FAC trying to get a couple of missions in his old squadron. Scobee set the world land speed record for daytime in the Crusader with his takeoff while the world around DaNang witnessed the SNAFU. How embarrassing for the rest of us in the squadron. We had to take a lot of crap from Air Farce, Navy, Army, and the nurses over that debacle. I was the Aircraft Maintenance Officer at the time.

We are from two thirty five, we are the greatest alive, so screw you, screw you, screw you all................

Semper Fi , Mofak


I was the CO, VMF(AW)-235 when Ed Kowalcyk took off out of Danang in my aircraft for a maintenance test hop. This was the flight where he punched out shortly after takeoff. It seems that the burner fuel line leaked and a fire erupted. I was also the CO when Lamont Philips (sic) took off at night with two 2,000 lb bombs and his wings folded. As soon as he went on instruments he knew something was wrong so he declared an emergency, did a 180 and landed downwind, wheels-up and wing down. He slid some 6,000 feet. Since there was no ladder available, he dropped to the ground from the cockpit. Since he was not aware that he had landed wheels up, he thought that the ground was further down than it was and he landed stiff legged and hurt his back. Earlier in the day my Aviation Safety Officer had landed wheels up so when the tower called to tell me of the Philips accident, I responded with "Geez, that happened hours ago." The tower then informed me that it was another one. I was a Major then and, under the circumstances, I consider myself lucky to have made Lt Colonel, much less Colonel.

Don Mickel


To Phil Craven from Ron Knott: Remember the time that you allowed me to get a crew together to steal the F-8 Model from VF-32 and the famous Commander Barber? We were at Fleet Conference in the Med. and went to VF-32's Ready Room for a briefing. Cdr. Barber bragged about how he had stole the Model from the Marines and said, "No one can get from us." That is when I asked you if I could come over to their boat and take it back to the Shang. You may not have said yes, but your grin let me know to proceed with the mission. Late that night Bill Worley, Al Moore, Jim Brady and myself went the Watch Officer of the Shang and told him that we needed some emergency parts for the F-8 from the Saratoga. We talked him out of a Whale Boat and crew for the mission. Once on board the Sara we called the Ready Room Commandos and said that VF-32 had an emergency message in Main Comm. and that both of them should hurry down there for the message. These poor sailors almost ran over us running down the passage way to get the message. Of course we headed to their Ready Room, with our bolt cutters wrapped in a sheet, and cut the model from the ceiling. We wrapped the model in the sheet and headed back to the Shang. Next morning all hell broke loose. Messages traffic was heavy in the Sixth Fleet about the missing model. Finally the men on the Quarter Deck of the Sara said some Officers were here last night and carried of an object wrapped in a sheet that looked like a cross. After several days of message traffic you ordered the photo shop on board the Shang to take pictures of you with the model on the port cat in jester of launching the model back to VF-32. The COD the flew it back to the Sarah. That was just one of the many great times we had as Sea Going Boomerangs. Post this message if you like.

Ron Knott


Terry Kryway was the pilot who ejected nose down going off the angle deck on fire after one of his landing gear collapsed on landing. I later roomed with Terry in an F-4 squadron in 68. The scene was made famous by a widely circulated safety poster showing the very last second ejection. It appears on TV to this day as part of an advertisement for an all crash video for sale. I always think of Terry when I see it and how he and I searched in vain for another ex Crusader pilot, Doug Clower around Haiphong. Doug came back 5 years later from Hanoi.

Dick Gralow


I understand that an earlier folded wing flight was accomplished by Tim Hudner (Korean War Corsair Medal of Honor winner) who took off at night with his wings folded and managed to spread them in flight, doing significant damage to the wingfold area in the process (verified by a CO of mine from EA-6B days who was a S-2 LSO aboard the ship when the incident occured). The way I heard the story, the incident cost him his F-8 squadron and he was moved in as CO of VT-24(ahead of my future father-in-law, Al Howard, who had to do two XO tours to permit the change of orders.

Will Gray


I know that P.J. "Jax" Smith punched out of an F8 two times. Dates unknown but they were prior to Aug '63 and I believe they were both Photo Birds. What is the peace time record for the number of times for one guy to punch out of an F8? War Time? Combined? Anyone know?

George Clare 22

John Barnes took off from Naples with his wings folded prior to 1962. He was my RAG Instructor at VF-174 in 62 & 63. He noticed the loss of lift when he came out of burner after take off from Naples. Looking in his mirrors he saw two vertical wings attached to his Aircraft. He came back and landed with no damage to the AC. His Skipper bent his uniform Gold Wings up on the end and made him wear them like that around the ship for a while so I was told. Could this have been the start of the winglets on the modern Aircraft?

Ron Knott


While I was at Da Nang in VMF-235 summer of 1966 (probably August) one of our pilots (can't remember his name right now, but his call sign was "Shadow") was taxiing for some night thing or other. There was a Pan Am 707 holding short, and Shadow was concerned about getting by him into position, so he folded his wings as he went by. Shadow forgot to unfold them, it was night and the tower couldn't see him, and there was no warning in the cockpit regarding the wings - other than the handle being out of position, and it was well back on the right console. Anyway, Shadow launches off into the dark with the wings still folded carrying a few thousand pounds of stores. Once airborne, the plane was barely flying - pilot couldn't tell what the problem was so elects to land right away. In his hurry to get back on the runway forgets to put his gear down - lands wheels up, wings folded. Fortunately, bombs don't explode. Shadow uninjured.

John Doherty


Don't know about this story but in 71, VC-7 out of Miramar had a guy towing a rag with an A4 for an F8 squadron and he got hit on two consecutive days by the same shooter. The first aircraft was repairable and the second totaled due to fire. The VC-7 driver got the nickname of Target, naturally. Can not remember which F8 squadron or the guilty party but can attest to the accuracy of the story since I was XO and Hal Averyt, an old F8 driver was CO. Hal might rember which squadron. He should be on your list.

Jerry Dempsey


Perhaps "Garuba Joe" had two infamous takeoffs during FCLP or maybe stories are beginning to run together as all our memories arc toward oblivion. I was the RAG LSO the night Joe taxied back out and took off on 24L at Miramar having forgotten to lock his canopy. So there he was -- light fuel load, in afterburner of course, both hands on the canopy rails trying to hold it onto the machine while he rapidly accelerated -- afraid to let go but unable to hold it down. Eventually as his arms were about to depart along with the canopy, he let go, the canopy departed as he lifted off, and he circled around for a full stop on 24R.

Tom Corboy (And a big Hello to all you old F8 guys)


Reading these great stories reminds me of one I saw at da Nang in 66. I was holding short behind 3 Marine F8s loaded with big bombs. During the staggered TO the leader blew a tire and took the arresting gear. Number two managed to get airborne over the top of him picking up some FOD on the way.#3 stopped on the runway as I remember. Meanwhile #2 went into the Vietnamese village at the end of the runway. One or more of the bombs(1000 pounders) went off, the concussion rocking my airplane over a mile away. I saw the whole thing clearly and never saw the pilot get out. Later I heard that he had ejected and landed in a tree unhurt. As he appeared to not reach more than 30 feet alt and must have landed near the blast it was amazing. I was told later (in the bar) that they found a cache of weapons in the village belonging to the VC.

Vic Larsen


This story reminds me of a similar incident at Yuma during the early 60s. An FJ out of El Centro was shot down while towing the rag for a Marine f8 sqad. The CO of the Det (a JG) was picked up out of the desert unhurt. He was wearing A T-shirt, bermuda shorts and no shoes. His penny loafers came off when the chute opened. As I remember this was the f8 squads. second 'kill' against the same VU squad.

Vic (??)


One of the Naval Aviation pubs -- NavAirNews, I think -- ran an article on F-8 wings-folded flight about 1976 or '77. It seems there were 7 or 8 more or less successful events if memory serves. Tom Hudner (who won the MOH for crash-landing his F4U in an unsuccessful attempt to rescue his wingy in Korea), My CO in VT-24, has, I think, the distiction of being the only one to get the wings spread in flight but at the expense of damage to the wings. It is easy to do under the right circumstances (true confession time). It almost happened to me at Fallon in a VFP-63 RF-8 on a CVW-21 deployment in 1968. I had pulled off in the warm-up area and folded my wings to allow several flights to depart ahead of me. When it was my turn, I "expedited" onto the runway for a rolling take-off, stroked the burner and checked the mirrors to confirm a good light (no clouds of un-burned fuel) and was horrified to see both outboard wing pannels virtical. I deselected the AB, spread the wings, re-light the burner and took off in what I prefer to call a "rolling wing-spread." About the time I started the wings down, tower called to inform me that the wings were folded. A couple of VF-211 troops (ordies, I think) had seen the F-8 start its "non-standard" TO roll and alertly called the tower on their radio. They got a well-deserved letter of com. That was the only stupid thing I ever did in 21 years of Nasal Radiating. (and I don't lie, either).

Bob Harrison 29

It was bad human factors design that let any pilot take off in the F-8 with the wings folded. Especially since it happened so many times. Couldn't have been only the pilots fault. There were other planes like the big blimp A-3 which didn't allow the application of full power with the wings still folded due to the totally brilliant design of the handles. The throttles wouldn't physically go forward much from idle with the wing fold and gust lock levers intentionally in the way. I know, I tried it at Lakehurst one day. Don't think the A-3 would have made it off the runway with the wings folded. So the wings up take offs in the F-8 were all LTV's fault. Pilots get blamed for too much. Don Mickel might have made Colonel with better cockpit designers. But then he was a Marine Test Pilot.

Dick Gralow


If memory serves me right - the VC-7 story goes like this. The pilot who took the hits two days running was Craig Duncan - callsign "Target" and the F-8 shooter was none other than LSO extraordinaire "Bug" Roach then in VF-191. As Bug told the tale, he was running "just a little sucked".

Pete Walsh


Yes, Tom Hudner did take off with the F8 wings folded and spread them in the air but didn't do it successfully as was indicated. However, he did not lose his Command over that but later as XO of VF-53 his eyes failed him and he was having trouble getting aboard at night. That was in the days before one could wear glasses. He left VF-53 and went to VT-25 CO at Chase Field in Beeville.

The late Dave Bourland ejected from the F8 when the nose was pointed straight down toward the water just forward of the angle deck. The aircraft was sinking out of sight when it went past the fan tail of the Tico during the '65 cruise (I think) with VF-53 which seem to make it a good idea to have ejected as choosing to ride it into the water. He just skipped along the surface of the water and only received minor injury to one of his feet that apparently hit the wind screen bow on the way out.

Hal Loney


[In this note Stew Seaman briefly mentions his going into the net on the Shang. It was my first cruise, sunny day, and I had a "new" 8mm camera (no sound). I was up in vulture's row and got a few great feet of him going into the net...just as I ran out of film. Larry Durbin]

Damn, this reminiscing of F-8 experiences is becoming addictive. Assigned to VF-62 from Sept. '62 through Aug. '65), it's been almost 33 years since I stepped out of my last F-8, yet it seems like only yesterday. Larry Durbin's distribution of old F-8 happenings has prompted me to review my F-8 cruise books (Shangri-La) which, in turn, has stimulated my memory. Of course both time and conditions have changed. Instead of being 6' 4", 210 lbs of fire breathing muscle, sporting a crew cut and handsome as hell with a healthy libido, I'm now 6'4", 280 lbs, skin on top (like battle-ax) almost 60 (in 3 weeks) and a candidate for Viagra. But what a grand and adventure-filled time it was:

1. My COs: (John W. Brown, Joe Simons, jr., Phil Craven and Hal Terry) They could lead, they could fly, they could fight, and they were hell on liberty. Without qualification, they were the "Best of the Best."

2. My Squadron Mates (pilots and ground pounders): (Paul Gillchrist, Jack Altmeyer, Howie Bullman, Dean Kaiser, Frank Hill, Al Wattay, Dick Oliver, John Nichols, Stu Harrison, "Beaver" Heiss, Bob Bickel, Tom Napoli, Ron Hinkle, Ron Knott, Bill Worley, Don Ressel, Jim Brady, Freddy Compton, Al Moore, Greg Harney, Ben Walker, Larry Clark, Charlie Sekula, Ben Jennett, etc.,). I hope I didn't forget anybody. These guys were the GREATEST! Tremendous aviators, hard-working officers, supportive team members. For some reason our personalities and professional skills blended to perfection yielding a squadron second to none. Of course, I'm extremely prejudice.

3. Most Satisfaction: Going from last place to FIRST Place in AIRLANT F-8 competition, winning the "E", and no fatal AARs during my tour.


4. Significant Squadron Events: (just a few)

A. Chopped to and flew from Lexington, CVA-16, during Cuban Crisis

B. Chasing MIGs back to Cuba, 1962 Key West Alert (Howie Bullman and Ben Walker?)

C. First F-8 squadron to get F8U-2NE (F-8Es). We had old tired F-8Bs.

D. The Shang was one dark ship at night. At first we had only the landing area in-deck lights. (God, it was dark) The ship, finally, got a little red "moon glow". It was still dark.

E. Max night landings anyone had when we became night flyers was 25 (the skipper). I had 12. I left the squadron with over 110 night carrier landings. The older pilots let the JOs take the black ass night hops. They were real gentlemen.

F. First F-8 squadron to get the Approach Power Compensator (APC). Didn't work too well at first and about killed one or two of us. We were encouraged to use it and "make it work".

G. Paul Gillchrist's two AARs in one day. (Got two nose gears up through the intake on Shang work-ups south of Gitmo. When your the Ops Officer you forget the bad stuff and schedule yourself in for the next launch).

H. Hal Terry's AAR and nightmare swim off of Gibraltar.

I. Cat launch F-8E from Shang at anchor in Naples harbor (Yours truly was the pilot)

J. Barricade arrestment on Shang (Yours truly, again, was the pilot) (Note: No pilot error).

K. Morest landing on 3,800 ft. Gitmo McCulla Field, at night, with 200 lbs fuel indicated. (Me again. That was a real pucker)

L. Punching out (destroying) the bar door at the Leeward Field BOQ bar. (Me again. Had to visit the base CO. I was a bad boy so he said)

M. Emergency landings, both land at sea, (fuel transfer problems) we all had some experience here.

N. Strike Back Cruise to North Atlantic on Independence CVA-62 summer of '64. 50 ft. seas, 40+ knots of wind over deck, terrible weather conditions yet we launched day after day to intercept and escort former enemy bombers. Our armament? Blue Sidewinders.

O. Participating in Air-to-Air Gunnery flights from Cecil Field, wearing Full Pressure Suits in the hot summer, with oxygen hoses that were at least two feet too short. Yes, people did loose sight of the banner and tried to negotiate square turns from time to time.

P. Great cruise liberty when deployed to the Med: Cannes, Palma, Barcelona, Naples, Palermo, Taranto, Messina, Rapallo, Marseilles, Istanbul, Isle of Rhodes, Malta, Catania, Genoa, Livorno (Some of us probably had too much fun, especially in Palma and Marseilles).

Q. Visiting New York City during 1964 World's Fair

R. Bob Hope's Christmas show on Shang.

5. Although I didn't realize it at the time, squadron flying during the '60's was wild and exciting compared to today's more cost conscious and politically correct requirements. I sure do miss the 450-500+ knot, 8 G breaks to a full stop landing at Cecil.

Stew Seaman


[The leader blew a tire and took the arresting gear. Number two managed to get airborne over the top of him picking up some FOD on the way. #3 stopped on the runway as I remember. Meanwhile #2 went into the Vietnamese village at the end of the runway. One or more of the bombs(1000 pounders) went off,the concussion rocking my airplane over a mile away.I saw the whole thing clearly]

I was standing near the edge of the runway when this happened. The whole affair had a "unreal couldn't be happening" sort of feeling about it. I thought one of the birds couldn't get the burner going. Anyway the dope that I got was that the pilot ejected and was snagged by a palm tree which saved his life. The F-8 rolled up in a flaming ball in a village of the end of the runway. Immediately the natives came out to liberate whatever was loose. About that time the bomb cooked off. I understand that Danang used up all available body bags that day to cart off the dead.

Howard Brown


The story which Vic Larsen told is essentially accurate. I was the pilot of the lead plane. Ed Gallagher was #2. It was a very hot day at Danang and the three planes were loaded with two 2000 lb "fat boys" each. At that time, we were using about 100 ft separation (burner light) so we were fairly close to each other rolling on takeoff. I was on the left side of the runway and about halfway down the runway at about 100 knots, my right tire blew and I was thrown into my shoulder harness. Realizing that I was indeed decelerating, I shut the engine down, dropped the hook to catch the chain at the end of the runway and announced that I was aborting on the radio. #2 instinctively came out of burner when I did. Then, realizing that there was only one chain and I had dibs on it, he selected burner again and pulled back on the stick to get airborne. As he staggered into the air with the nozzle wide open and the burner not yet lit, he realized that he had had it. As the plane settled off the upwind end of the runway, the right wing dropped and he ejected. That saved his life as he landed outside of the fireball. The plane crashed into a Vietnamese village just off the end of the runway and the first bomb went off low order. As the dust settled and the village inhabitants returned to get what remained of their belongings, the second bomb cooked off high order. The result was 35 dead. The engine from Gallagher's plane was sent to Norfolk for analysis. Since the results were inconclusive regarding the possible ingestion of rubber, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Another story about my tenure as CO, VMF (AW)-235 has an airplane returning from a flight wherein one of the rockets had failed to fire. After the aircraft was positioned in our maintenance area, one of the ordnance guys began to test the circuitry. Unfortunately, he did not download the rocket first. The rocket fired, zoomed across the airfield and detonated on the roof of the compound which housed VC prisoners, killing a few. Since I now have spread out the dirty linen, so to speak, it might be best to detail how all of this was set up. VMF (AW)-235 was stationed at MCAS Beaufort, SC before coming to Vietnam on squadron rotation. Prior to departure, the squadron had reduced its size by transfering those pilots who were felt to be substandard or who had recently returned from overseas. The squadron had an excellent record in country for the first six months. Then it was time to let others get their "tickets punched". I had just arrived in country after a three year tour at PaxRiv where I had logged all of my F8 time. That's right. I had never flown the F8 prior to my duty at then Flying Qualities & Performance Branch, Flight Test Division. While there however, I flew the F8A, B, C, D, E, and E(FN). I took over command of 235 without one syllabus hop to my credit. Most of the pilots who had come into country with the squadron were transfered to staff jobs and they were replaced with others in staff jobs who had come overseas on individual orders. Oddly enough, many of these were the same ones who had been transfered out of the squadron before its departure from Beaufort. I realized this however and tried to monitor everything closely. The squadron had maintained its XO, OPS, and a few other key people and they also monitored things. I think that we all got caught up in the everyday operations. The frag came from the Wing and there was no way we were going to say that we couldn't hack our assignments. We ended up with five accidents in 45 days, none of which were due to enemy fire.

After my six months as CO was up, Ed Rogal took over. He had previously commanded the squadron and was a LtCol. The squadron was transfered to Iwakuni, Japan for about six months and then returned to Danang. I was not pleased with my performance as the CO but I realized that I had had help.

Don Mickel


Then there is the one about the Cat III FRP and the rough landing. The place: Miramar, VF 124; the Time: mid 60's; the Event: night fam; Problem: radio failure

In the event of radio failure, FRP was briefed to follow the lead in, do a normal break then land on the same runway as the lead shooting a touch and go in front of him. Since runway 24L had a bounce pattern, I landed on the right, touched and went, turned down wind and, to my horror, saw FRP land on 24RR (translation: the fuel pits). The F8 careened through the pits, sparks flying somehow missing the people, aircraft and fueling hardware, but taking out the vacant fuel shack then rolling out in the ditch that paralleled the runway. There was very little damage to the bird; not even enough for an AAR as I recall. The story goes that FRP didn't notice anything wrong (except that the landing seemed a little rough) until he couldn't taxi after the roll-out, but then we all know how those stories go.

Bob Rasmussen


While a student at TPS, PaxRiv I remember one of the instructors, a LtCmdr at the time, who was transfered to NAS Jax where he was killed in an F8 crash. The story I heard was that he was tow guard on a gunnery hop and, upon return from the flight after the banner was dropped, he and the tow plane departed, joined up and reentered the pattern for a high speed break. Apparently, he had not locked the wing after the banner was dropped and the wing came off at the break. Any other details?

Don Mickle 37

It's off the subject of F-8's but taking off with things folded also happened in the A-3. I don't know the date or the boat but an A-3 was shot with its vertical tail unlocked -- it folded at the end of the shot and all died as the tale was relayed to me.

Will Gray


A follow-up on Don Mickle's story, I saw it happen. He was towing the banner, and dropped it on a north to south pattern. Heiss was the pilot. He then hit AB and went out of sight. The plane then approached from the west, at maybe 600 knots, did a break left, and the wing and other parts came off the aircraft. The throttle was forced into AB by the negative Gs on the pilot. The plane was now heading west, almost verticle, with no wing, and in full AB. It crossed the north/south runways, came over the top of the old Chief's Club, clipped the tops of a few trees, and hit the ground in the baseball field near the base main drag. It stopped on the baseball diamond, and the pilot was found under the aircraft. From what I heard, the negative Gs (9 plus) terminated the pilot before the plane hit the ground.

Tony Farinella


Congrads on the Crusader Assoc going corporate. Accumulated 1000 flight hours mostly under control! Some interesting experiences included:

flameout after take-off Beaufort MCAS short runway 14 - dove for remaining concrete & caught chain gear. Major fire over lake Michigan - landed in huge fireball at Glenview NAS egressed on landing roll out with aircraft still rolling because had no brakes . 100 missions North Vietnam - 50 missions south, Hot Pad at key west. Flame out at 47,000' fell into thunderstorm - relite & finally spit out at 12,000'. During supersonic gunnery practice came in a little acute & loaded her up & the next thing I knew was passing the tow airplane backwards with flames shooting out the intake and the tow pilot calmly saying that if I intend to fly that way I probably am in the cockpit backwards. Ran out of gas do to combat problems and flamed out just prior to touch down at DaNang at night during the period that all airport lights were knocked out. Other normal stuff like stalls, falling leafs and spins. I have flown the F-9,11,8,4,18 and A-4 and will always consider the f-8 the best. Now flying Captain for United B-767 & B-757.

Check Six, " Beaver" (Bob Beavis)


That F-82NE that went into the village at Danang was from VMF(AW) 232 in 1967. It was piloted by 1/Lt "Doc" Dougherty. After the blast he emerged unhurt and rather pale with a shredded flightsuit and no F-8. After being released from the Flight Surgeon, he walked into our hootch, took out and blew up a rubber, full-sized "sleep with me Marine" doll he bought as a joke (suuuuuure it was) in Iwakuni prior to entering the fracas. He then crawled onto his cot with his companion, pulled up his course wool blanket with the USMC stamped on it and slept the good sleep. He was quite a picture. Never will a Marine Aviator stand so tall as when he stoops to inflate a needed friend. Best wishes and good reading to all.

Don Brigham Major USMC (Ret)


I couldn't resist another GarubaJoe story. The year '69; the place, off Hawaii USS Oriskany , Airwing 19. Bill Switzer engaged in daytime mortal combat with F-102 from Hickam had tail fire each time he lit burner due to damaged ENC valve leaking hydraulic fluid. Switz of course thought the calls of " you're on fire" to be bogus tricks of the wiley deuce driver, until ,of course, wingie spotted lack of tailsection. That night, in the bolter pattern, GarubaJoe, for whatever reason, was signaled to bingo to Barber's Pt. On final, the controller issued the standard " check wheels down/hook up ", to which GarubaJoe responded with gear up and hook down. Yes, a gear up landing.

Now, both squadrons had damaged aircraft; VF-194 had the worst of it a strike. Whether it was a flip of a coin, a game of ace deuce, or seniority, the two squadron CO's ,Clyde Tuomela and Robbie Roberts agreed to give VF-191 the tail section of GarubaJoe's F-8. It was quick work, and soon the a/c landed on CVA-34 with a Hellcat body and a Redflash tail; thus the HellFlash. Don't believe I ever saw any paperwork on Switzer's incident.

The Locust!!! Steve Stevens


bug shot down VC-7's Jim Arthor twice. good guy jim, nice girl friend to.

v/r weaZel (Charles Lowery)


This is great! I'm sure the stories get cooler with age, but it is very interesting to hear different viewpoints on the same event. I don't know what else Barry Kunkle was involved with, but I was in his VF-124 CQ class after he had recovered from the previous adventure. Since my own most recent carrier experience had been in the daytime with the SNJ seven years previous, night landings in the F8 was getting my full attention. Heck, I was impressed with anyone that reported actually seeing a meatball, but Barry was getting nowhere near the blunt end of the boat. It was a big event when he finally got it to touch down somewhere forward of the last wire! But Barry really helped me along at that point in the training, because he showed me I wasn't the only guy in the world that was a little slow mastering the beast. When I reported to VF-191 a few weeks later, Jack Snyder, CO, asked me if I had had any bolters during night quals. Thinking him to be joking, I laughed heartily at this question. Mistake.

Bill Storey


After the very successful carrier trials of the French Crusader and the first CV landings with the Direct Lift test bed, a converted F-8c, three of The Navy's finest Test Pilots catapulted from CVA-38 enroute Pax River. We had to do an actual penetration in V formation due to a little weather, but it was observed to be no sweat underneath. I was on the right wing with a French bird. The not to be mentioned by name leader was in another French one and our LSO had the DLC F-8 on the left. We proceeded to fly very tight Formation while going dirty and going around and cleaning up twice since the precision glide slope radar didn't acquire us. We were still in the weather at an assigned 1500 feet while being advised that the ceiling was about 3500 feet in light rain. And we were getting low on gas. And how could that be. We all knew the GCA never got the weather right so that was going through our minds when a similar situation that I had read about in an Air Force magazine made me look at my altimeter for the first time since we went actual and I was working my ass off to stay on the boss's wing through all of the wing up, wing down, gear down, gear up go arounds. Sure enough we were at 11,500 feet, not the assigned 1500 feet, right in the middle of an airway. Now how do you tell your boss who is leading this mess. I probably could have figured out a way better than a quiet comment on the UHF, but remember we were a little low on gas. That quiet comment was heard all around the base even before we landed. The French Crusader had one of the first really different altimeters we had seen and being 10,000 feet too high is much better than that much too low, but that is all we can say in our defense. Pushing through the level that we had thought for about 20 minutes was sea level was an odd feeling that I still remember. Final note: Direct Lift Control was a method of quickly changing the aileron droop in the wing up config. It allowed rapid glide slope adjustments especially in the down direction which put some, if not all of the LSOs in the net when they first saw it. It never got incorporated in fleet aircraft, I think, because people seemed to like watching F-8s bolter.

Dick Gralow .

PS; Other names withheld to protect the guilty due to the statute of limitations and the fact that the above mentioned flight leader's wife, like Hillary, is a lawyer.


Stew as I recall I made the first Cat Shot at Anchor in the F-8 in the Navy, and that was at Naples. In fact the pictures are in our Shang cruise book. This F-8 had flamed out coming aboard with Stew Harrison as pilot. Maintenance worked on the AC for days and could not find anything wrong. Jo Simons (Skipper), Paul Gilchirst (Ops), and Frank Hill (Maint) decided the AC needed to go the the beach for more work. I was elected to fly the sick bird. The unknowns were; would this beast flame out again once airborne and could the Shang produce enough punch for flying speed off the end? Paul Gilchrist, with his handy slide rule, convinced me that it would fly. I felt good about the project until many Sailors from the photo shop showed up with cameras in hand to record this historical event and or accident. A Russian Ship was just off our port bow when they shot me off, in burner, with just enough fuel to reach the Naval Air Station. I was headed toward the Isle Of Capri when that tremendous shot kicked me in the butt. Later other F-8s were shot off at anchor. One was a Photo Bird at Naples. Of course I was eager to go because anything was better than staying on the Shang. Thanks to Paul's calculations and 2 knots of wind, I had at least 2 knots above stall going off the bow. Naples was great.

Ron Knott


Regarding Dick Gralow's recent e-mail about DLC never getting to the fleet, I recall flying a fleet F8-J from VF-124 in about 1969 that had both DLC and BLC in it. It was a bit of a dog in a hassle but it was sure nice in the landing pattern. Is my memory going bad on me or am I right?

"Gator" Paul Gillcrist


Re: Paul Gillchrist's note about the F-8J:

Yes, the Jay-bird (reworked F8-E with boundary layer control etc) flew in VF-124 in '69, and certainly in some fleet squadrons, though I don't remember which. It was an "admiral's model", designed to reduce CV landing accidents. It did reduce the 3000# fuel load landing speed from 143 to about 125 knots, which was helpful in weather. But it was the dog of the series, heavier and clumsier than the "E" model which it "upgraded".

I flew the C, D, E, H, J, and K models of the Crusader, and I would vote the "C" as my VFR favorite. Less power, but did it turn! There's something to be said for a radio altimeter, useful radar, and more power, though, and perhaps the "D" (or "H") would be my overall favorite for that reason. How about hearing from other gunfighters about their favorite model?

Paul Lillebo 48

[Webmaster (Lillebo's former section leader!) votes for the H; souped up D radar was as good as the E's, not much heavier than a C. The extra 1100 # thrust more than made up for that]


Ron, what was the date of your "at anchor" cat shot from Shang? While RAG Instructors, Bob Rice and I made F8 catapult launches from Lexington while it was tied up at the North Island quay wall, as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of Naval Air, August 19, 1961. The planes had been hoisted aboard; Lex had their own starter probe but we found out at the last minute that they had no "jumper plug". I can still remember leaning out of the cockpit and telling the Flight Deck Officer how to bend a paperclip into a "U" shape and stick the ends in the "B and D" holes of the starter canon plug in order to get the igniters to work. He was somewhat apprehensive over using a paperclip to start that expensive airplane, but of course it worked. Last year the San Diego Union tried to publicize an S3 launch from Kitty Hawk as the first cataputing in San Diego Harbor. A reader responded that he had pictures of F8's being launched from USS Lexington back in 1961. The newspaper published a correction. I gave the guy a call and he kindly sent me copies of the slides he'd taken.

Regards to all, Dick Cavicke


Ray Slingerland was the NAVAIR project manager on DLC and could tell us if it ever got incorporated in the F-8J. Ray actually, now it can be told, came down to Pax and flew an FMLP period in the test bed. I think we both could have been disciplined for that one since the flight had no approval from anyone and he was on total shore duty but he had been in VF-84 and was prior to that my instrument instructor at South Whiting field. Direct Lift Control did get designed into the F-14 utilizing spoilers but I heard it wasn't used much in the fleet.

Over to Ray. Dick Gralow


As a newcomer to this net, I wonder if anyone has repeated the Lt Don Jordan barrier incident? Oh goes. It happened just before I joined VF-191 during the 92-93 WestPac cruise. Seems as how the dash pot wasn't keeping Don's hook down long enough to grab a wire, so he kept bouncing it down harder and harder till finally he broke off one of the wheels. This then set up the need for a barricade engagement. Don flew a perfect o.k. 3-wire pass into the net and shut the engine down on touchdown. The F8-A then sliced thru the barricade slick as Epsom salts thru a goose! Since the emergency had everyones attention, the radio conversation was being broadcast over the entire ship, so they all heard him say, in a sincerely disgusted voice as he went over the angle, "great fuck"! The plane sank immediately. Don said he was so far down under the water, it was already dark as he slashed his way out of the lines and debris, activated the Mk3c and popped to the surface about a quarter mile behind the ship. The helo finally located him and returned to ship. The guys in the ready room told him they had already prepared a message to his wife saying his last spoken words were about her. Don retired as an airline pilot a few years ago. In my 22 years in Nashville, I never knew he was based out of here! And the sumbitch still has all his hair!

Bill Storey


Well, it might not be a first, but Robbie Roberts was launched in an F8U-1P, while tied up at the pier in Yokosuka in 1961 or 1962.

Slim Tinsley


In 1963, after pulling in to Norfolk on the Forestal (I believe), there were 2 aircraft held up for maintenance and could not launch with the others. The plan was to anchor out, drop a forward anchor, let the ship swing into the wind, and launch when ready. One of the aircraft was an F-8, and the other was an A-4. I was not too concerned about the F-8 getting off, though I realy wondered about the under-powered A-4. As is normal, the drivers could not wait for the ship to fully swing and launched in a cross wind. The F-8 went first as I remember, kicking AB soon after leaving the CAT, and there was no problem. When the A-4 went off it dropped out of view and all on deck thought it was a spash. Somehow, after coming within maybe 5 feet of the water, the pilot pulled it out. Earlier on this qual a cool cat had an F-8 bouncing off the wave tops. With the plane in AB you could see the the engine exhaust parting the water. I was sure it was going to injest water and go in. The pilot managed to pulled this one out after what seemed like a half mile of wave popping. I do not remember who the drivers were. I would sure like to get their comments on these 2 events.

Tony Farinella


The fly in the ointment for Tom Hudner was the San Clemente layout. He got to bingo fuel in night quals, and landed at San Clemente. The throat from the taxi way to the parking area required that the wings be folded to avoid obstructions. He parked, got a partial load of fuel, called the ship from base ops, was told to go the Miramar and check for an overhead time in the morning. He fires up, and of course can't spread his wings in the chocks. Tom Taxis out to the approach end of the runway (which was NOT visible from the tower), and the rest is history. Tom did two over-the-top slightly negative G maneuvers to spread the wings - only one locked the first time, and he had to repeat with the a/c now BADLY asymetrical. Tom Hudner, at night, succeeded in spreading his wings in flight (one at a time), and subsequently landed safely at NAS Miramar (VF-53, spring 1964, and I was the Maintenance Officer - you can imagine how delighted I was. We had been night qualing and I had finished the night before. Tom knocked on my door in the BOQ the next morning, told me the story - and of course I thought he may have slipped a cog somewhere - until I went down to the line and looked at the airplane. Both wing fold hinges, on the top of the wing, looked like spaghetti!!

C.E. Southwick


The other end of the Sidewinder. 55

In the old days of 61-62, I did tow with the F8 and Delmar off Atsugi. The drivers would be vectored in behind, and would call for a "hot shot". I would switch freq., key the mike and light a flare. By the time I got back on the launch freq., the Sidewinder was well on it's way. I would just sit and watch the clock second hand for about a minute, and if I was still flying, then I knew the missile either hit the target or had run out of fuel. I hated the comments "OOPS" or "went right past the Delmar". One more for the F8 tow. In 62 we went to the Philippines to work with a "group" of AD5Q people. They had Navy colored airplanes, but I always wondered who those guys were. They wanted me to tow the Delmar at night, 500 feet off the jungle. So I asked, "how fast will those things fly, and they said about 180. I did tow at, I think 160 with the wing up, but not at 500 feet, because no one could figure the droop on the target. Those AD people jacked up the tail of their aircraft(s) and bore sighted the guns on the hanger wall. The radar was "hand made". The guy in the right seat vectored the pilot into the 6 o’clock on the Delmar, told him to fire at 1200 yards and stop at 1000 yards. The pilot never looked out. They shot every Delmar from back to front with a bunch of holes. After a while, they

said that they had practiced enough, and flew off in a Westward direction. I found out about 10 years later where they went and what they did. They were successful.

John Lunn


Ooops! My cat shot at anchor was later than Robbies. In fact it was in late 62 or later. I suppose I was told this was the first to get me in the mood. Congratultions to who ever made the first one. And to all who ever made one. It was a real kick.

Ron Knott


add this bizarre story to your files. Bug Roach wasn't the only one to shoot down 2 Crusaders. Wendy Grubbs USMC, got 2 Crusader "kills". Shot down the tow plane with 20 MM in Hawaii about 1960 (don't remember squadron) and in early 1963, managed to shoot down a VU 7 Crusader with a sidewinder. He was supposed to shoot down the Delmar target the Crusader was towing, but got the Crusader instead. This was not VMF 323's second Crusader "kill", but it was Wendy's. Guess what? He didn't make the Marine Corps a career.

Cliff Judkins


Ron, I remember it well. I had to go to the bridge to "hold the Captain's hand" during your shot. As we swung on the hook, the captain put a few turns on one of the screws to swing the carrier slightly away from a cruise ship which was anchored not too far away and in direct line with the catapult. There was a large crowd of observers on the cruise ship gathered on the stern to watch this demonstration of naval "chutzpah". Ron passed over the stern of the cruise ship low enough for them to count rivets. Quite a show. They are probably still talking about it. By the way, ten years later Saratoga fired fifty-three airplanes off at anchor off Piraeus (Athens) with the ship listing badly to port and trimmed seriously by the stern. She had experienced a major casualty in the number one main machinery room and flooded the entire compartment with 44 feet of water. It was serious business. The airplanes were down-loaded (F4s and A7s) to minimum fuel to get them as far as Soudha Bay. As CAG I was again summoned to the bridge to "hold a nervous Captain's hand". I would rather have been in the lead airplane instead of Vince Lesh who violated my instructions by flathatting over the beach at Piraeus following the cat shot. The Captain came close to putting me in hack...while I was putting Vince in hack. As Frederick March asked (In "Bridges of Toko Ri"), "Where do we get such men?" Those were the days!

"Gator" Paul Gillcrist


I agree with Paul...the F8H was my fav and having flown every 8 model in two VRF squadrons, two VC squadrons plus VF-13, I didn't like the idea of flying around at 120 to 125 knots (20 knots below stall speed) in the French F8. I tried it once and couldn't get rid of the creepy crawlies of flying around at below "normal" F8 stall speed.

Harry Landry (Fearsome 3)


I believe I have to correct myself on the F-8 belly flop. I remember Peters and Swartz talking about racing vehicles, and the belly flop occurred soon after. (If I remember correctly, Peters had a Jaguar vehicle back then?). Peters was on the right, the SP was on the left. Peters hit AB, released brakes, and started rolling, with the SP doing the same a few seconds later. Peters' plane hit a dip in the runway causing just enough WOG for the gear to fold in. The plane settled down on its belly and Peters would not back off. He must have went another 2,000 or 3,000 feet down the runway in AB. He actually had all but a short piece of tail pipe up. He finally realized there was just a bit too much drag to get it up, and shut it down. I can't remember who the SP was Peters had in tow, though he must have been impressed. Let me know if my memory is correct on this.

Tony Farinella


Wanted to add a sea story to the BLC discussions . We were one of the first squadrons ( VF-211) to get the BLC airplane. In PA wave off performance was reduced due to the 7th stage bleed off. After a couple almost night ramp strikes we had the engines tuned up and got the thrust back . But, as you would expect , this overtemped the engines at Full mil power. To ensure maint. knew when we overtemped we used a little Egyptian engineering and put safety wire across the throttle quadrant . Needless to say we went through alot of safety wire. I do not recall any ramp strikes , on that cruise. But, on the previous cruise we had 5 flying the F-8E : we also had 5 combat losses along with 3 mig shoot downs one with Zuni rockets.. Of course, all the ramp strikes were at night. One for one combat to ramp strike was alittle high . So, the BLC was a good force multiplier especially if you were assigned to do the night mission. That cruise we were with the VF -24 (pageboys ) F-8C's who do not fly at night. Never did figure that one out entirely ? In those days first cruise Ensigns did not ask a lot of questions. The so called all Wx radar in the E may have had something to do with it? Whew? So, we were the eyes of the fleet until wee hours in the morning. With the F-8 J BLC no ramp strikes and we even won several line period CAG LSO landing awards which never happened in post BLC airplanes. Even with all the problems , BLC was good stuff especially at night.

Bill Bertsch


Wave offs in the French Crusader, the first F-8 with BLC, were the same as described by Bill Bertsch for the F-8J, but due to the slower approach speed the airplane was judged to be safer overall on the glideslope. We learned to rotate the nose up to stop the rate of descent during the F-8E[FN] trials, which had undesirable overtones at wave off but the stall speed was so low it worked OK. The BLC was absolutely necessary to get the speed down for the French Carriers. BLC beat out Direct Lift Control for the F-8J although then Major Don Keast worked hard in Navair to get DLC in. The French company Dassault, through political influence has worked hard to keep the French Navy from getting another U. S. plane even though their Navy came out strong for the F-18. They even designed the new Carrier DeGaulle to be able to handle the F-18 with a little help from Lakehurst. I spent a little of Northrop's money in Paris with Admirals Debray and Geupil over lunches, talking about how much they loved their Crusader when I was marketing the F-18. Geupil was at Pax during the French Crusader trials and later sent us a message saying that the marriage of the F-8E[FN] with their Carrier Foch was a marriage of love.

Au Revoir, Dick Gralow


Apparently there were a number of times that F-8's were fired off the carrier while at port. Sometime in '62 - 63 while CVA-31 (Bonnie Dick) was in port & CAG 19 was aboard, Adm Dick Martin (then Lt) was fired off. Don't remember the details; i.e.: occasion, date, port, etc. Now, as to my barricade & subsequent water landing, Bill Storey's account was fairly accurate, but just in case someone volunteers to be the historian, I would like to make a few corrections. I was a nugget in VF-191 on CVA-31. The accident occurred about 100 miles off the coast of Hong Kong, which we had left suddenly due to typhoon warnings. The skipper of Bonnie Dick, Capt Bullard, decided to conduct flight ops the next day, 10 Oct. 1962. On my first pass, just at touch down in very heavy seas, the ship rolled to starboard, putting all the weight at touch down on the port gear. The wheel sheared, the hook spit out the wire after about 40' of roll out, and I boltered. That was the OK 3 wire pass bill referred to. The rest of CAG 19 was brought aboard, and CAG LSO Ken Wiley set me up for a #1 target wire barricade arrestment. I got an OK #1 wire, but again the hook spit out the wire and I engaged the barricade. The cable did not release from the top of the stantions, & strap by strap I ate my way thru the barricade. The 8x10 glossy of the F-8 just as it is leaving the angle shows fuel pouring out the tailpipe (the burner failed to light), full nose up elevator and full right wing down aileron. F8A BUNO 145406 entered the water flat. The wing separated, as did the cockpit. When my head cleared, I realized I was looking right up the tailpipe, as the cockpit had floated back around the A/C. The canopy was gone, so I released the shoulder harness. No sooner done, the cockpit sank. A Hartman fitting on the mask had broken, so I had to use one hand to keep the mask to my face while searching for the other two releases. That done I tried to exit the cockpit, only to find my left foot jammed under the rudder petal. I stood up on the seat pack with my right foot and lunged up, which tore loose my foot, and the O2 hose. I'm down now about 40', paddling up when on my right I see this humongus prop with bubbles streaming from it. I was told later a trainee on the bridge had ordered the ship turned away from me, throwing the screws my way. Helo was right there to pick me up, put me on the flight deck to be greeted by the CO, Merle Gorder, XO Jack Snyder, and Safety Officer John Harker (anyone know where he is?) The whole thing lasted less than 5 minutes. An F3H driver in VF-193 got it all on 8mm film, and I have 9 8x10 glossies taken by the ships photo guys that show the entire sequence. I had two stitches in my chin, two in an elbow, and flew two days later. I believe there are other jocks out there that survived an F-8 water landing, & would like to hear their stories, so how about it, you other incredibly lucky SOB's!

Don Jordan


I have been meaning to bring up an incident which happened during the back side of the Cuban Missile Crisis. One night a Marine F-8 pulls into the VF-174 flight-line and parks. The aircraft was coming from Key West and on the way to MCAS Beaufort. He was scheduled to depart at dawn the next morning. Sometime during the night someone went out to his plane with a stencil of the VF-174 HELLRAZOR logo and spray painted it on his plane. The pilot took off for MCAS the next morning without noticing the art work.

About 3 weeks later the VF-174 day crew arrive one morning to find every VF-174 F-8 stenciled with a Marine squadron logo. I always wondered who was responsible for it. To me it seemed to be something F-8 drivers would do. Maybe after all these years somebody will take the credit on both ends.

Tony Farinella


Another unique feature of the Crusader was the Leading Edge Devices (droops). I remember two accidents in the Dallas area directly attributable to the use or non-use of droops.

The first was in 69 or 70 when two Navy F8's left an East coast base for a stop at NAS Dallas. Common procedure was to climb out with the droops retracted, then extend them for cruise. The wingman reportedly didn't extend the droops once they reached cruise altitude, and as a result had a significantly higher fuel burn than the lead. While at low altitude being vectored for NBE, the wingman suddenly came to the conclusion that he couldn't make it to Navy Dallas, and elected to land at Redbird airport, a short civil field only 5 miles from the destination. He landed hot and long, went off the end into the dirt, and was found by the crash crew sitting on top of the airplane muttering to himself.


I was the AMO for the Marine reserve F8 sqdn at Dallas in the mid 70's when the other accident occurred. A low time VRF pilot was ferrying an F8 to the west coast with a fuel stop in Dallas. He entered the break with droops retracted at 350 - 400 knots, wrapped it up and pulled for the downwind. The airplane stalled, departed, and the hapless Jg. ejected. The airplane entered a flat spin and impacted the BOQ just 30 feet from the bar. The spin was so flat that the wreckage was contained in a 55 ft diameter circle. The F8 is 55 ft long. The pilot made the comment that he saw sky, then dirt, then sky, then dirt again. The next time I saw sky, I ejected.



The stories about the F-8J BLC brought back a memory that scared not only me, but all the LSO's that were working me during a daytime trap off the coast ofd Hawaii. I had flown the '68 cruise with VF-53 in F8E's, and with none other than "Gator" as C.O. until Harry Blake took over mid-cruise.

During VF-53's turn-around at Miramar between our '68 and '69 cruises, all of our "quals" were off the coast of California during the months of Jan and Feb.of '69. Of course the Wx was cool with temps in the 50's and low 60's. The loss of thrust from the 7th stage bleed, (my memory says about 900# loss) coupled with the added weight of about 600#, and a reduction of about 3-4 knots on final, the whole thing stank of political monkey business (the need to give LTV some work)...messing up a fine machine by adding weight and subtracting thrust!!!!!!

Well, on with my story. Off the coast of California in the cool wx, approaches were made at about 91-93% power. That gave us a little "digging room" if we were to get into a "hole" and we all got in one at one time or another. Now consider that during our little drill off the coast of Hawaii, while on our way to Vietnam, the temps were hot (Mid 80's) and on some engines depending on how they were trimmed, the max power was 97% and the approach power was in the 94-96% range. Now that I have set it up, here is the story.

I roll out on final behind the Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31), and call the ball. I see the ball start to rise, and I lower the nose. The ball stops and comes down to center. I raise the nose to catch it, but it starts to sag. I added power, but the APC was already at the forward stop. The LSO calls for power, but I have no more to give him (the plat showed the black smoke before he called me for power!). The ball continued down while I tried to maintain a do-nut in the angle of attack indicator. Within a second or two, I saw a low ball, then the pulsating red ball, no ball, the flat line of the round down, and then nothing but the back of the boat. During this the LSO called for power twice more. He said no more I guess mainly because he and all his buddies were in the net waiting for me to hit the boat.

I had to make a rather quick decision as to whether to stay or to get out. I thought about "burner", but decided that if it didn't light (and that happened more than once during a cruise), it would be too late for me to do anything else including Ejecting. I elected to stay which, after looking at the plat, was a stupid decision. The plat showed the aircraft completely below the flight deck for a split second before it rose again. I remembered a ramp strike article in Approach (jumpin' jehosephat!) describling how a pilot hit the ramp, but the cockpit continued up the deck. So, I pulled the nose up into a very high attitude to get the cockpit over the round down. (It was shuttering badly close to a stall and the wings were trying to walk on me). When I could see over the round down again, I pushed the nose over with very nearly full forward stick, and the UHT bit into the air well enough to lift the tail up and over the round down by a couple of feet. Of course, I didn't get a wire. The next pass I elected to fly a manual pass (and at the insistance of the LSO) with the grade "Fair, a little fast all the way."

About three months into the cruise, the powers that be allowed us to move the throttle stop forward about an inch which would put more fuel into the now underpowered engine; this increased thrust by a few hundred pounds. The downside was that this would necessitate an engine change. The boys back home called this W.E.R. (War Emergency Power). So, to show our displeasure at the "boys" for ruining a perfectly good airplane, we had a patch made up that said around the outside "In God We Trust, Our Need is Thrust. And in the middle, the large red letters W.E.R.

Keep the stories coming!



I was Operations Officer in VF 174 when Beaver was killed. I was the senior member of the accident board which investigated the accident. It was determined that the bolt holding the wing to the actuator failed and the angle of incidence of the wing started to increase. Remember they told us when the wing was down the center of pressure pushed the wing down into the fuselage? Not so! On Beavers aircraft it was conclusively determined that the wing failed in upward bending when the angle of incidence of the wing reached 11 and 1/4 degrees.

Phil Craven


I would like to thank Bill Bertsch and all of the other VF-211 Crusader jocks for flying those night flights in the Sring and Summer of 1967. As a replacement pilot and first tour F-8C driver assign to VF-24, I appreciated being required to fly day flights only. However, alot of those day flights were Alpha strikes downtown Hanoi. In fact, VF-24 downed more Migs on that cruise than any other Navy squadron at that time. As far as I know, the record still stands. More important, today is Memorial Day and it brings back memories of the nine "Pageboy" pilots out of the original 18 that did not come back. Not to mention the pilots lost from VF-211, as well as those from other F-8 squadrons. The worst part about these losses is that I can not remember all of their names or their faces. These guys should not be forgotten. We need a Historian that can put together a memorial list of these F-8 pilots, along with a complete list of the lucky ones still around. If we have to pay someone to fill this position, you can count on my contributions and help.

I. E. "Chip" Harris


I think I'd better speak up before this story goes any further. I was the scheduling officer for VMF(AW)235 when that crash in DaNang occurred. I initially scheduled this flight as a division with the CO as no.1, myself as no.2, the XO (Major Ken Smith) as no.3 and Ed Gallagher as no.4. (Ed once told me that if he had to fly with anyone, he would prefer to fly with the XO.) I stayed up all night to make the schedule and after our first mission, I was pooped to fly the next one. Going back to the flight line I saw John Doherty returning and then I realized that he had only one more to go and that I scheduled myself for four. I asked him if he could fly my flight so I can get some ZZZZZ's before my next flight and he said OK. After un-suiting and walking back to my tent I saw this F8 trying to get it's burner lit on climb out and that didn't work as it nosed into the village. That was Jon Doherty (works for NWA) and there were a lot of fatalities. (37 is what I recall, but could be 35.) When I talked with him later, he said to me that he had the ejection curtain handle in one hand and his 38 in the other hand as he made his mad dash back (over the fence) to the base. So much for that incident. I felt for the CO, Don, and then it was one incident after another, bad luck as I recall it. I was there for the wings folded take off, gear up landing on the bombs and that other gear up landing made by our Safety Officer. So much for now. Any questions about anything. I can be reached at

Semper Fi, Hank (P9) West.


Ron Lambe's story about his narrow escape prompts me to add to the F-8J thread. I had an experience similar to Ron's except that mine happened a couple of months later in the Gulf of Tonkin, it was at night, and I was not as lucky and/or good as Ron was. If we had known about and understood the ramifications of Ron's incident it might have been a wake-up call preventing mine and at least one other I know of. I too was on the Bonnie Dick, in VF-51. My story reads just like Ron's up to the point where he saw the pulsating red. I don't remember seeing that, but I might have. I too was at max power for a considerable length of time (12 seconds rings a bell), and made the same decision as Ron regarding not attempting to light the burner. I definitely didn't get as low as he did. Nevertheless I hit the ramp with the tail, lost the hook and right main, didn't catch a wire, and ejected as I left the end of the angle. I was recovered by the "angel" tin can, since our helo's were down that night. I spent the remainder of that cruise recuperating in San Diego, rejoining VF-51 when they returned in November. I made an uneventful WestPac cruise with them in '70. Ten days after my accident LCDR Bob "Snowball" Snow (whatever happened to him?) had a pass which looked virtually identical to mine, with the same results except that after punching out he landed on the flight deck, and casually strolled down to the ready room. Now my accident might be (and in fact was) written off to the fact that I was a low-time nugget, but Snowball had a lot of F-8 time. It was shortly after his accident that the F-8J received the modifications Ron referred to, as well as a reduction in max trap weight and, as I recall, a reduction in the degree of flaperon droop to reduce drag (that part might not be right; I can't recall for certain).

Jim McGarvie


One more F8 story - this is true - I was there. We were scheduled out of MCAS Beaufort (VMF-235) on a Friday night departure for a routine weekend cross-country. A first lieutenant was the senior pilot and flight lead. I was the wingman. We launched around 1700h, which really pissed the ground crew off, and then I suffered the only serious, real, no crap hydraulic failure that I ever, before or since, experienced with the F8. Gear would not retract -period. I aborted and entered the pattern and landed safely, whichreally and trully pissed the ground crew off. Not a good sign. At 0400h the next morning we launched again. Destination: NAS Olathe Kansas (now closed). I didn't pay much attention to the weather, the flight lead was supposed to do that (never made that "brown bar" assumption again). We arrived over Olathe with a report of some ground fog, but not too bad. We descended and began our approach and found that the airfield was closed due to fog. We had no place to go. Every field within 300 miles was closed. The outstanding instrument training that we all received as Naval Aviators paid off. I took one wave-off and then made the second approach. Was told that I was below minimums and must wave off, but they kept giving me heading and descent data so I kept coming. Saw the numbers from 50ft. Made a side move - the Crusader was good at that - rolled out and shut down at the end of the runway. The Navy ground crew had to come and find me.

After the fog cleared, we filed our flight plan to NAS Beeville, TX., and took off again. Guess what? Fuel transfer problems. I'm doing 4-point rolls, same aircraft, but we're pressing on. Land at Dyess AFB in Texas. Ask for help. F8-What? Don't shut down because they don't have a cart than can restart you. Refuel and fly to Beeville. Depart Beeville on Sunday. Nice section takeoff - Senior pilot still leading. Fly into NAS Meridian, MS. Refuel. Another nice section takeoff with senior pilot leading. We could only do this away from Beaufort. Section takeoffs were discouraged at home base - really dumb. Approaching MCAS Beaufort and with flight leader having lead for two days, he passed the lead to me. I assumed the lead, but I don't think that he ever stopped leading - bad juju. New wingman, without being asked, crossed under to the starboard side which meant that I had to turn into him to get set up for the straight-in to the break at Beaufort. Gave headnod and rolled into gentle starboard turn, speed 350k. Looked back for wingman and saw nothing but F8 intake. Wingman struck lead a/c just aft of cockpit shearing off starboard wing. My plane went into a flat, negative-g spin. Had my straps lose which means helmet is jammed up against canopy. Flailed around with stick and rudder then looked in mirrors and saw nothing but fire. No way out unless the seat works (no faith). Adrenalin does wonders in a 22 yr old body. Forgot about d-ring but found the curtain, and out I went. Seat came up and hit me in the butt, but everything worked as advertised. The most amazing thing was that the flat spin kept the aircraft virtually intact upon impact. I was able to retrieve my wallet from just inside the windscreen. The crusher was that a beautiful aircraft was smashed flat. I went on to a lot more F8 flying, but an incident like that was not fun to remember. What a waste. Worst cross-country I ever made.

Al Nease


Regarding the RF-8 accident at NAS Dallas in the mid-70's. That was RF-8G BUNo 141363, which I think was the John Glenn cross-country speed champ airplane. Anyway, on the Actual For Real No-S*** Last Cruise of the Oriskany I was a new guy in VFP-63 Det 4 with CVW-19. One clear and stormy day in early December, 1975, I brought this particular airplane aboard on a pretty pitchy deck and managed to bolter while shedding the left main gear. I was asked if I wanted to eject alongside, but seeing no need to abandon a perfectly good airplane with a perfectly good engine I asked to come aboard into the barricade. Bob Greathouse was on the platform and supervised the action, which was complicated by about a 20 foot deck pitch. Anyway, just as I was crossing the ramp the deck pitched down considerably, and I just shoved forward on the stick. I hit the net on the fly but it held, although the resulting smack onto Oriskany tore the airplane to pieces. The Powers decided to cocoon it and send it home, so later on BuNo 141363 was put back together, only to end up in the Dallas BOQ. By the way, the air dept guys on the O-Boat rigged that barricade in under 90 seconds, as I had less than 800 pounds of gas left after trying to tank dirty off of a Barn Owls A-7. We later found out dirty tanking isn't possible in the F-8, which I think is still undesputed. Anyway, thanks to a lot of folks and a little luck I survived that day, only to later father my youngest- a female- who today departed for Quantico and the Marine PLC program. Evidenltly the USMC never found out her mother and I were married, so she's ok. Thanks for all the stories.

'Fluid' Floyd


The stories about how we ruined a good plane, the F8E, to make the F8j finally got me into adding to our history stories. I was CO of VF-53 and got to make the fleet "operational tests" with the first bunch of new "birds" off the Bonnie Dick. I seemed to have had an attraction to the "Bonnie Dick" as this night I was making my 100th

night carrier trap on the boat. Musitano described the events of this F8J development pretty well, as I remember. After an uneventful CAP, I came down the chute and got on the backside of the power curve and started to fall out of the sky. I went into the throttle WEP position and used the newly developed double pump with the stick. I don't know if I was the first under "real" conditions, to have to try out this new manuever, developed by PAX, but it was certainly one of the first attempts. I did get aboard successfully with a taxi No. 1 wire and a cut pass. Waiting for me on the flight to congratulate me on my 100th Bommie Dick night landing was the Captain of the ship and CAG. The addrenalin that was flowing because of the near encounter with the rear end made for some interesting pictures. The comments that I made infront of the assembled greeters embarrased the Captain and CAG. The Captain and CAG was on the flight deck when I caught the wire and did not realize how close it was to a diaster. Neither one of them to this day probably understood what we were going through to get this bird back on deck on a hot summer night. After this incident, I took half the 20 MM's out and the removed the port sidewinder, opposite the bridge. To my knowledge, CAG and the Captain never found about this, but it worked and we did not have an incident like this the rest of the cruise. At least no one told me of any more incidents.

Bob Weedon


I will never forget that night. Though do not remember all of the specifics...I think I have that story written down somewhere and will see if I can find it.

Basically, I had a generator failure which as it turned out was caused by a "smoldering type" fire...a hose had come disconnected and was blowing very hot air on the electrical bundles. So, had numerous failures and mysteries to deal with. Hook would not come down. Gear would not go back up. Lost inst I was supposed to have on the emer gen and had some things I should have lost. Never lost the radio (God watches over F8 types, right?) We tried an A3 but my plane kept rolling inverted in his jet wash every time i plugged. Finally got the job done with ZERO fuel indicated (don't know how much I really had) thanks to Swan Anderson and his A4 tanker. Also had to say "screw" the gear speed and accelerated to about 250knots or so if I remember correctly. Also plugged one of my sidewinders and beat it to death (broke the seeker head). Does this bring back any memories. It can be done. It is not fun! Especially at night in the Tonkin Gulf.

Don Scott VF-51


Sometime around May of 67 we were doing exercises with the Japanese Air force, enroute to The Tonkin Gulf embarked Bonnie Dick. I was a brown bar nugget with no apparent fear of death ( we all were fearless and loved it as I remember ) flying wing with John Barlow in F-8E's. During an intercept at 30k over the top of Atazuki ( not to be confused with Atsugi) which was joint use with Japanese Civil air at the time. I got the low oil light and no oil pressure on the peanut gauge. This was during the period when F-8's were dropping out of the sky all over the place caused by the J-57's Oil Pressure failures followed shortly by engine seizure. I recall about half of the failures made it to a runway the others were lost in the vicinity of airfield of attempted landing. I do not recall what caused the problem nor the fix? Anyone remember? My roommate Rick Wenzel had just punched out several months earlier NE of Miramar with the same problem. The following events were not known to many and read about by even fewer because the story ends with the aircraft written off as a combat loss. It was not uncommon in those days for aircraft to be conveniently struck from the record w/o a bullet hole in them .

This whole thing started at 30K on a CAVU day on top of Atazuki Airfield so there was plenty of time to get out the Natops and look at the book. I declared an emergency and started a spiral down looking to hit the numbers for a precautionary approach in event the engine seized. The throttle was set and whatever other Natops required was followed. I decided to set up the precautionary Approach in event the engine seized I would have some options. Just prior to hitting the numbers at the 180 position the engine seized. Prior to this the whole thing was a cake walk. From here on exact events are a little fuzzy and very busy. I decided not to eject due to the populated area combined with the fact I was on the numbers for this dead stick approach albeit the one and only I ever flew. Few of us ever flew this approach and it was never flown in training. I got the hook and gear down OK on the RAT but the wing only cracked out of the fuselage. I remember looking at 190 knots as I passed over the threshold transitioning to a flare to a 10K runway with chain link arresting gear and pop up cable at the end of the runway. There were 3 civlian airliners holding short, I thought to myself that this was going to be one hell of a show for anyone watching, and it was! The last words of wisdom I heard from John flying my wing all the way down and helping with the communications with the Japanese...."your not going to land are you? " To this day he knows that the question did not deserve an answer. However, he did see the answer. At that point it was not time to eject but I did reach for the curtain twice after a series of touchdowns airborne, touchdown airborne etc. etc. As my F-8 demonstrated its famous nose wheel porpoise that we all saw in FAM stage . The RAT stopped providing hydraulic power somewhere well above 150 kts, may have had someting to do with the wing not coming up? So, after about the second bounce , I was along for the ride getting very little directional control with the rudders. Half way down the runway the nose wheel fell off followed by the strut. But the porpoise was still going strong. The chain link gear was only good for 120Kts and broke after hundred feet of runout. I hit a pop up barrier in the far end overrun with the main mounts and came to a stop. I almost ejected after the chain gear broke because I was concerned this pop up barrier, activated by the tower would be scooped up by the nose and rip through the cockpit. The nose,light due to the nose gear gone,lifted about 5 ft. and passed over the top of the wire. I was met by an Air Force General who informed me that I could not land at Atazuki with Sidewinders and ammo because the Japanese did not want to be accused of supporting the war. I expressed my regrets. He dropped me off at the O'club had a couple beers with me then took me to an S-2 the ship sent. The ship went emcon and it was five days finding her but that is another story. Got back to the ship briefed those concerned or whoever wanted to hear the story. John had watched the whole event so there was not much new to tell. Next day Skipper ( Adm Paul Speer ret .) called me in and said CAG decided to write the airplane off as a combat loss. To my knowledge there was no other paper work on this event ? I was fairly vocal in the community about using the precautionary approach only as last ditch and on a very long runway. Without an engine the F-8 was truely a falling rock and without hydralics truely a dead stick. Any other dead stickers out there ???

Bill Bertsch


The RF-8G lost at Dallas was 141363 as Fluid mentioned. 141363 was a pre-production RF-8, and the oldest RF-8 flying. (Same vintage as "Old Frasier" on the pedestal at Norfolk, BUNO 141351). Most of the parts were interchangeable with the production version, but some items were unique, as we found out trying to replace parts during workups. The aircraft was a VFP-63 Det 5 aircraft returning from a six week America "mini-Cruise" to RIO & points south; last workup before cruise. I was the junior of three nuggets (if there's really any seniority among nuggets) returning it to Miramar. The break at Dallas ended in a classic F-8 departure, according to observers below, aided and abetted by loss of both stab systems by the time the departure occurred. [Not a proud moment - like to have it back - but no decision about what to do next.] I looked up as I went to pull the face curtain, and saw ground appearing in the canopy. I immediately recalled the entire chart in the NATOPS, particularly the 600 foot line for ejection inverted (more with a descent rate). With the scenery still moving past the canopy, I waited until I saw sky and ejected. When I let go of the face curtain and looked down, I was swinging left to right, first over a building, then over a tree, then over the building, etc. I landed between them, with the chute blowing into the tree. The building was the Dispensary. As I sat on my seat pan releasing my fittings, two corpsmen blew out of the back of the building, leaped into the ambulence, hit the siren, looked around rapidly, spotted me and went tearing across the lawn at me with the lights and siren going. I assured them I was OK, but they insisted I ride around the building to the front door - where they left me in the empty waiting room (Dallas - Monday afternoon). The aircraft, meanwhile, came to an incredible end. It knifed sideways down through the end wing on the BOQ. As it sliced through the second story, it left two people standing on a ledge a few feet wide (the remainder of the room). Neither were seriously hurt. The first floor at the impact location was the BOQ office, but all four people had vacated the office about 5 minutes prior to impact. As the aircraft (by now at full power) went down through the wooden building it broke off the main water line in the building and bent it downward so that water was pouring on the wreckage - it never caught fire. The sack of coffee beans from Brazil in the camera bay was unscathed, but not too useable after being soaked with JP. I've still got the picture of the American Tourister briefcase in the camera bay that, although mangled, was pried open to reveal all of the contents completely intact. As an aside, John Glenn used BUNO 145641 to set the speed record. About 4 years later, when I was the OINC of Det 2 during the summer of 1981, that aircraft was a Det 2 aircraft on a SSSC mission in the SoCal OpArea during Coral Sea workups when my maintenance officer, Gary Tritt, had an engine failure and ejected from it. It's now in the SoCal waters, brass commemorative nameplate and all.

Erik Gregory, "Empire"


The following yarn is pretty tame compared to some the guys have sent in, even including my story of having the dark visor fall over my face during a night bolter:

Someone swiped the logbook that would include this entry, but I'll reconstruct it best I can. During night build-ups in late 1961, Dick (Surname with-held unless he reads this and wants to share in the glory) and I had to bingo our photo-Crusaders to the beach, maybe because an A4 did the big fireball on the ramp. (Coral Sea, I guess.) We were unable to contact San Diego Approach. Being low state upon our arrival over NAS Miramar, we commenced a bore-your-own tacan penetration as a section, Dick in the lead. We broke out underneath with the field in sight, and I took interval--not enough, as it turned out. Dick indicated he'd land on the right side of the runway (or maybe the left--irrevelant), so I lined up for the other side. Upon touchdown, I spied a small fire ahead, just as Dick transmitted, "I've blown a tire, Slim--I can't hold it--I'm going over to your side!" I switched sides, and then stuff began to happen fast. The crashtruck focused on Dick's brake fire, and must not have seen me, because he pulled out on the runway up to Dick's bird, which by then had almost stopped. Still at high speed, I stomped my brakes, and blew both tires. Now with no braking and damn little steering, I was headed for the narrow slot between Dick's bird and the crash truck. I remember a fleeting thought: FOLD THE WINGS! followed by RIDICULOUS!-- wings don't fold in 3 seconds, which is about all the time I had. At the last possible instant, the crashtruck saw me, and peeled rubber getting out of the way. I swooshed between them with what looked like inches to spare.

Our Ops Officer had the CDO that night--as I recall, he wasn't too pleased. After our replacement of 3 tires, U.S.S. Boat wanted us to come back out and finish our build-ups, but we decided against testing the grim reaper's mercies again until the next day.

Slim Tinsley


You're right, Dick, as far as Jim being in the first F-8 version of VF-111. As everybody probably knows, VF-111 made the last F-11F cruise on Hancock in 1960, and then the first F8U-2N cruise on Kitty Hawk in 1962. For the others listening in, Dick was probably the first to call the ball using that ridiculous aircraft designation, "F-8D." He and I launched as a section on the day and just before the hour when the Navy went to the Air Force's dumb system -- so we launched in F8U-2Ns but returned as F-8Ds, and when Dick called "Ball, F-8D," the boat responded "Huh?" Typical boat, right on top of things!

Anyhow, Jim Brewer was in the squadron and made the cruise -- I have a picture of him on liberty in Japan...

Milt Bank


I did not know there was a problem tanking a dirty F-8. While in VF-24 on the '72 (second last annual "Hacken Hanna" cruise), I launched on a PMCF in a F-8J and shortly after the cat shot discovered the gear were "blown down" (popped kitty valve?) plus had wing fuel transfer problems. To make a long story short I plugged into a "Magic Stone" VA-154 Sky Hawk tanker flown by Rob Barber with wing down and gear down and less than 400# on the fuel gage.

Pete Batcheller


I have been following te sea stories with interest, having been involved in airplane and missile safety for 30 years (as well as having my own share of F8 emergencies and accident). As expected, they involve both mehanical and/or pilot factors. The failures are generally overcome by good airmanship (training) with pilot factors being the result of not enough time, information, memory lapse, or just plain goof. These accidents happened to trained pilots who generally handle their emegency well. What I am going to relate is an F8 accident where the pilot was not trained in the most basic aspects of the airplane resulting in an accident that was unnecessay and tragic. Names, places and dates are omitted. A senior ferry pilot used his influence to ferry an F8 across the country. He had about one flight in the F8 a few years before and had never gone through a RAG outfit. As he arrived at a commercial airport for a refueling stop, he experienced a utility hydraulic failure. He read the directions above the gear handle which as you remember, told you to push, turn and pull the handle. The pilot thought these instructions applied to the handle above them which as you again remember is the RAT handle. He pushed, turned and pulled the RAT handle and when the gear would not come down, he repeatedly pulled the handle to no avail. He finally resolved to land gear up. Then he attempted to raise the wing. He tried to push the incidence handle forward but it would not budge. He went so far as to beat the handle with his knee pad attempting to get it forward. No luck. Yes, you guessed it, he did not raise the guard to allow the handle to move forward to blow the droops (prior to droop switch for spins). He now decided to land gear up and wing down at an Air Force base not too far distant. He also elected to do a short field arrestment. The attitude of the airplane and the sudden deceleration of the arrestment, slammed the nose of the airplane to the runway breaking the pilots back. The prognosis at the time is that he would never walk again. I know you agree this accident should never have happened. On the positive side, this mishap plus an unusual A7 accident instituted a "hot line" procedure that could be used to contact the manufacturer of the airplane for advice. I have seen this procedure used with good sucesss



 Guess I might as well get my two bits in. I got back from Viet Nam after 98 successful missions in the A-6 (mostly night/North). I was sent to MARTD Dallas the thinking being that I could get checked out in the F-8 and then join the Reserves at the end of my active duty commitment, 9 months away. I was sent to NAMTD and then to Safety school to be the unit Safety O as well as Admin O. I started checking out in the F-8 in July and by October was ready for my FAM-4. Obviously I was not a priority on the flight schedule. , On FAM-4, I was being chased by Capt Steve Palmason, (I was a 1/Lt at the time). I was very proud that I actually got the gear up and the wing down without overspeeding either of them and was going through all the proceedures when the fire light came on. Not a big thing I had seen them before in the A-6, but then again there was only 1 in the F-8. Pulled the power back and the "your gonna die light" stayed on. Set power at 85% and started dumping. Radios had crapped out. At 8000 ft the engine quit and the second leg of the flight began, that was the downward leg. It was obvious that I could not make either the field or the 100 fathom line so started looking for a place to put the wreckage. I jumped out too late and fireball took the chute up about 2000 ft. I looped a riser trying to get away from the fireball and started back down going round and round. About 300 ft from the ground a pickup truck pulled up right where I was going to land. I yelled at the driver who had gotten out of the truck to move the truck (expletives deleted). He looked both left and right and started scratching his head. I yelled again for him to move it and he got in and backed up about 10 feet. I made a two point landing (butt and head) right in front of the truck and the chute collapsed over it. The wind blew the chute off the truck and I got up to be hit in the face by flying gravel. The truck was departing my landing site at a high rate of speed. It is my understanding that later one of the investigators took the statement from the driver that he stopped and got out of his truck when this voice told him to move the truck. He looked around and could not see anyone and then he knew that the Lord was talking to him. When he told him to move it the second time he did and then it got dark. When it commenced to lighten up he got the hell out of there. That's not what I saw but I guess it is all a matter of perspective. I flew the F-8 for about 9 more months, augmented and went back to the A-6 community. I told everyone I could not fly fighters because I kept spraining my wrist in the briefs and they found out my parents were married. Sure glad I got the chance to fly the Crusader though.

        Joe English LtCol USMC Ret.
81 We (VF-53) were on the Ticonderoga (CV-14), patrolling Yankee Station, shortly after the PT Boat incidents, that got the Vietnam War started. The first strikes had been made on North Vietnam; but war had not been declared. However, were actively running missions up the Gulf of Tonkin and Laos, to flex our muscles (we even got combat pay). On November 4th, 1964, after a 'Cat' shot, during climbout, I couldn't reduce throttle below 90% power (which didn't give me enough throttle movement for a carrier landing and would require shutting down the engine at 300 feet on a land based landing.) Things were somewhat hot at Da Nang, so the Air Boss decided to send me to Cubi Point, Philippines (by myself). I had a full load of 20mm ammo, 4 - Sidewinder missiles and 8 - Zuni missiles. Since no one practices shutting down an engine at 300 feet and the F-8's sink rate without engine power approximated a falling piano, I was bit concerned about the Cubi Point landing, especially with all that armament on board. So I pickled off the Sidewinders (they only cost $10,000 a copy then) and followed by the Zuni's off the Philippine coast. After shooting off the 20mm's (you might remember that it caused quite a vibration), I was able to pull the throttle back to idle. Therefore, I made a normal landing. .... Big deal! The maintenance officer and mechanics flew in to fix the airplane and they found a large blue handled 'waterpump' plier inside the throttle quadrant. A mechanic must have left it. The 'Cat' shot made it block the throttle, and the gun vibration caused it to move back. In peacetime, that would have caused an investigation and a mechanic would have hung, by the thumbs, from the yardarms. However, I went back to the ship, no one questioned me nor was there an investigation to find how the 'waterpump pliers' got in the throttle quadrant. The maintenance officer gave the pliers to me as a momento for my bravery. Strange things happen in the heat of 'war'! The little stuff doesn't matter.

        Marlo (Moose) Holland If there are any that remember me, here is some info for the files. Like to hear from any old "mates". 82
When I joined VF-194 (Hud'n) in the fall of '68, the squadron's F-8E's had all been ferried to Dallas for conversion to J's. To keep us flying while they were being reworked we had a bunch of F-8B's apparently rejected by the Marines at Iwakuni. A major difference between A's & B's and the later F-8's was, you'll recall, the lack of ventral fins. I always thought they were there for supersonic directional stability, but I reckon they had a little to do with keeping the pointy end forward at low speed too. So we're up hasslin in these B's, I think GarubaJoe was in it too, about half-way out to San Clemente as I recall. I was horsing that old thing around trying to turn a square corner and all of a sudden floop, I'm in a spin. At about 12K feet as I recall, and it didn't take too long to just settle right in. Just a nugget fresh from the Mutha Squadron, I pretty much remembered what NATOPS said to do and was doing it: then I got to the part about blowing the droops. I started fumbling around trying to - what was it? Lift the guard, move the handle back, inboard, then forward, and two hands required? Something like that. By now the altitude is coming up on the magic number, 10K, and it was still definitely out of control. Plus Joe (?) is now yelling at me to eject, which made further messing around with blowing the droops sound like a dumb idea. Well, better dead than look bad, and I knew one way to get those droops out. I unlocked and raised the wing. Not much changed at first, since it takes a good while for the wing to actually get up. Then (now about 7K) it felt different, but was still spinning. I reached for the curtain, jammed my back against the seat, took a deep breath, and ... It stopped spinning! Pointed pretty much straight down, but not spinning. Dang I thought, maybe I could just, well, pull the nose up and go home. So back on the stick, accelerating through 220 but almost there, surely too much g now but it's hanging in there. I don't recall the exact numbers, but around 270 KIAS and nearly 3 g's before it was over rings a bell. I reckoned something might have been damaged, so left the wing where it was and motored on back to NKX. The aircraft suffered no damage (!), and Robbie Roberts wasn't too pissed off at me (except about not ejecting while I was still in the envelope, which I wasn't for most of that part about pulling the nose up, not a rocket seat in the B y'know). Anyhow, we were thinking, if the thing recovers all by itself by raising the wing, why should we be fooling around blowing the droops at all? So we fired off an incident report, a copy of which naturally went to LTV, who had two engineers at Miramar the next morning. They were really surprised the wing didn't come off. They described what happens when it does come off, some analogy to plucking a 24,000 # guitar string and you sitting at the part that gets whipped around the most. Like Beaver. I don't know if that skinny little strut is under compression or not with the wing raised, but I'm pretty sure nobody ever bothered to analyze the loads under the conditions I had it in. They probably figured nobody would be stupid enough to try that. Well, I showed them.

Bull Durham 83
I refueled off of a C-130 over MCAS Beaufort at about 3500ft with wing up and gear down (all but one main - which is why I was refueling to start with).

        Al Nease 84
Crudaders: Reading the harrowing experiences related by F-8 drivers during their Navy/Marine aviation stints reminded of some occurences that might be of interest to fellow daredevils.

VMF(AW)-451 was aboard the USS Saratoga on a Carribean cruise in 1964. As the Marine squadron we were under the gun: always first off and first down the chute on recovery. We had a mixed bag of pilots with green lieutenants who were very competent and quite capable second tour flight leaders. We had a few light-weights but my memory slips their names. One typical morning, I strolled down the flight deck to the ramp and walked up to my aircraft. With one foot on the bottom step, I was strapping on my leg restraints when someone shouted, "Hey, that's my plane!" I looked up and saw it was "Big Stoop". I said, "You can have it. This one is too close to the round-down!" I carried my gear over to the aircraft on his right which was number two plane from the ramp.

"Big Stoop" was named after the huge gooner on TERRY AND THE PIRATES. He was about six foot four and too big for A-4s so after a hunched over three years in Skyhawks he was put in Crusaders. Big Stoop had been a boxer at the Naval Academy and well regimented but some of the imbedded training had worn thin after eight years in aviation. He had the maximum allowed three quirks and five idiosyncracies. Big Stoop was a captain and a section leader on our scheduled four plane launch.

I climbed in the cockpit, strapped in, and put on my mask and started breathing the 100 percent oxygen so essential to clearing the Ron Rico Purple Label from my aching brain. Such procedure was routine aboard the Saratoga which had a strict code of alcohol consumption requiring that the ingested fluid be mixed with the bug-juice from the huge machine in the Wardroom.

While waiting for my chains to be removed, I watched Big Stoop as he dilly- dallied in the cockpit, only closing the cockpit when the wind starting rocking the plane. He barely acknowledged the sailor who struck his chains. His mask was hanging nonchalantly from one side of his helmet and I wondered if he was having one last cigarette before his launch. I listened to the aircraft calling for taxi for catapult launch. The Marine photo F-8s were moving forward ahead of us. They were parked on the left side of the aft deck. The Captain of the ship decided to "gun" the engines to "max meat" at the same time he let the FMarine PFC grab the small wheel in front of the Captain and spin the wheel full left. Needless to say, the ship hooked a hard left turn and heeled hard to starboard. I had my brakes locked tightly as the huge ship seemed to be in a 45 degree bank to the right while high G rolling to the left. The photo crusader had to go to maximum power to inch up the steep angle deck toward the cats. This put tremendous thrust on the right side of the nose of our aircraft on the right side of the fantail. My plane was jumping around like a cockroach on a hot griddle and I looked over at Big Stoop. He was looking wildly at me as though just being shaken awake. His aircraft was turning left as though the brakes were off. The left rear tire jumped over the four inch steel lip of the deck. The nose raised straight up and his port wing hooked my tail section. I saw Big Stoop grab the right side of the inside canopy rail with both hands while his eyes looked like cue-balls as he stared at me. My plane started rising beside him like a section starting a loop. Big Stoop's plane looked like a giant praying mantis raising higher and higher. Abruptly, my tail section tore loose from his right wing. Big Stoop's plane reached vertical, bounced once in the catwalk and then fell over the side. The plane landed inverted beside the wake. It started to sink slowly tail first. I could see Big Stoop upside down with the canopy open trying to get out. The wake waves kept slapping the canopy shut. I remember saying to myself, "There goes the fifty dollars I loaned him to gamble with at Ponce." I saw the plane sink nose high about a quarter mile aft of the ship.

The Captain reached fox corpen then and we careened back to nearly a level position. I saw the first plane launch as I felt the bump of the catapult stroke. I looked aft and saw a bright white asterisk besides the foamy white wake starkly standing out against the beautiful blue carribean sea water. The angel chopper was hovering overhead the slick. Part of my tail and UHT was gone.

Doug Lawrence and "Quaker" Rice were directly across from me and had watched the catastrophe. They called, "Mofak, shall we shut down now?" I responded with, "Launch as a two-plane and complete the mission." I knew that the best policy was to get a pilot in the air as soon as possible after a harrowing experience or accident. Otherwise, getting some people airborne after a bad experience can be like trying to flush a korean pheasant. You would need the shotgun.

I shut down and went to the ready room. Our skipper. "Fox" was standing up close to the overhead PLAT with several lieutenants somberly watching the rescue and replays of the accident. Their faces reflected the fear and dread of the moment. I shouted, "Just like Big Stoop! Always clowning!" Fox looked at me with no humor in his eyes. I thought, "Hell! He can't take a joke!".

Big Stoop came squishing into the ready room a few minutes later. His hands were shaking as he mooched a cigarette from me and tried to light it with his zippo. I lit it for him. "Thanks for not taking me with you on that maneuver!" I told him. Big Stoop felt he must have been 200 feet down when he finally escaped the cockpit.

The remarkable thing about this accident was, we received the CNO Safety Award for that year with an unblemished record. The Navy decided that the accident never occurred.

Big Stoop is now deceased. Death occurred a few years ago, long after he retired. He won't mind me saying, his name was James G. Cowart.

 Semper Fi , Mofak 85
All of the F-8 stories are great! I wish I had started saving them from the start. We, who flew and loved the Crusader, have many interesting memories and stories. None, I think, as hairy as 1st. Lt. Cliff Judkins' "over the side escape from a burning F-8 and the subsequent failure of the chute while out in the mid-Pacific.

I have been bugging Cliff Judkins to submit his hairy "bailout" story to you for some time. I was the XO of VMF-323 when Cliff was in the squadron but I had left the squadron prior to the time of his "bailout". I wasn't sure of some of the details so had to ask Cliff, AKA: JUD or JUDSPIN, for the facts. He sent several articles from magazines and told me to submit whatever I wanted. I thought I would summarize all of the stories for purposes of your e-mail report; however, the stories from "Approach", "Wings" ,"True" and "The Hook" are all fascinating reading.

On 18 June 1963 VMF(AW)-323 "Deathrattlers" began Operation Green Wave, transfer of 18 F-8E's from MCAS El Toro, CA. to NAS Atsugi, Japan. The first leg of the flight was to be from MCAS El Toro to MCAS Kaneohe, HI. with aerial refueling from Marine KC-130's. Two aborts resulted from the first six aircraft and one was lost from the next six. Maj. D.K.Tooker ejected when his Crusader caught fire after a fuel cell erupted from overfilling during tanking from a KC-130. Tooker ejected seconds before the F-8 exploded and was fortunate to be rescued by a destroyer-escort. The squadron's fortunes improved no more on Day Two. Like Tooker's aircraft, the plane of 1st Lt Judkins fell victim to failure of the tanker's automatic cutoff. Filled beyond capacity, the F-8's main fuel cell burst, an identical failure to Tooker's. Fuel was observed by other pilots to be coming from several fuselage vents, the chin scoop and the tailpipe and the engine abruptly flamed out. Judkins quickly prepared for an air start. He brought the throttle to cut off, extended his RAT, hit the igniters at about 10 percent rpm, noted the Exhaust Temperature (EGT) gage climb and engine rpm increasing. At about 30 percent rpm his EGT needle passed the yellow band and went through the red line and pegged at 1000 degrees. Warnings came from his wingman saying "Jud, you're on fire. Get out of there". Judkins positioned himself and called "Mayday" and pulled the face curtain. He saw the fully extended yellow felt lining of the face curtain (no instructions) but nothing happened. He pulled the alternate firing handle between his knees; the canopy remained in place and the seat still refused to fire. Now in a 60 degree dive, he jettisoned the canopy and prepared for a manual bailout. He knew that noone had bailed out of a Crusader successfully but there was no alternative. He unstrapped the seat belt and shoulder harness and disconnected the g-suit; trimmed the flaming Crusader as well as possible at about 225 KIAS and stood on the seat with both arms guarding his face. He was sucked out, half expecting to hit the sharp leading edges of the tail. He missed the tail and was free falling. That was the good news. The bad news came when Jud pulled the D-ring. He heard a loud pop but his fall remained unchecked. Glancing up, he saw the 24 ft canopy wrapped in its shroudlines. Desperately, Judkins shook the risers, trying to deploy the canopy but to no avail. He looked down, saw his F-8 impact point and realized there was nothing more to do. His next sensation was that of being cold. Judkins never remembered hitting the water but he surfaced, coughing and retching. His Mae West had inflated but he was tangled in his chute. Despite excruciating pain, he cut himself free. Most of his survival gear had been ripped away on impact but he settled down to wait for his rescue. His wingman was the first to fly over. Later, a C-130 circled at low altitude and Jud was able to wave to the crew. After about an hour, a C-130 dropped a large life raft and some supplies, all of which were unreachable by the downed pilot. Another drop by a C-130 almost was a direct hit on Jud but he was unable to reach that raft also. After about one more hour, a Coast Guard HU-16 Albatross dropped another large life raft with a long yellow line attached. Jud was able to grab the yellow line and draw the raft to him but he was unable to get in the raft. Judkins knew that the sea was far too rough for the HU-16 to land. He lashed himself to the raft and settled down to wait for help. After about 2 1/2 hours, the minesweeper USS Embattle (AM-434) picked him out of the sea although he does not remember the actual rescue. He was transferred to the Los Angeles (CA-135) from which a helo took him to the hospital ship USS Haven which was permanently docked in Long Beach.

Judkins injuries included multiple fractures of both ankles, a severed tendon, fractures of his pelvis and seventh vertebrae and partial collapse of one lung. In addition to numerous cuts and bruises, his intestines and kidneys had ceased functioning. His temperature was down to 94 degrees. The doctors agreed that Jud would have died had not his spleen been removed following a car wreck during flight training.

Judkins returned to flight status after six months in the hospital. He immediately returned to flying the F-8 and, on the first flight after his "bailout", made numerous plug-ins on a 90 minute refueling flight. Cliff Judkins is now retired from flying with Delta Airlines and resides in Marietta, GA.

Jud was a first rate pilot and Marine Officer. He is a member of the Crusader Association, Tailhook Assn and the Marine Corps Aviation Association.

Semper Fi,  Lynn Williams

86 A while back before Larry went on vacation someone mentioned the F8 carquals on the French Carrier Clemenceau. Fox Turner, VF32 C.O. made the landings in a D model with Fred Raines as LSO. This was done in August of 1963 during Saratoga,s Med Cruise. According to Fred the French know how to conduct Air Ops. They get up in the morning, have breakfast and then fly. They shut down flight ops for lunch which may include wine, then begin flying again in the afternoon. They shut down for the day at dinner time. NO NIGHT OPS! Wow, can you imagine what a cruise like that would be in the US Navy. That might be the first all volunteer air wing to go to sea.

Hall Martin 87

I have a picture showing an ejection at altitude with the pilot just leaving the aircraft . I think it's a mid-60s vintage VF-154 F-8. The tail letters are NL, side number 406 and Buno 147899. The gear, hook and speed brake are down. A wingman is flying off his right wing, NL 411, Buno 148670. There is another "vulture" F-8 section flying high to the right. The picture was probably taken by a Photo F-8 flying to the left of the mishap aircraft. I have no idea who the pilot was or the circumstances surrounding the ejection. Do you know who it was and why or could you ask the "Crusader Gang" for me?

G-Box, BobGerhardt


Chip Meyers

89 Gary Barrett wrote to say that after shooting himself in the foot, Bubba was known as "Half Track".
Senior Chief Frevele (from the Navy's AIC controller school again). I am retiring soon. I grew up on F-4's. My instructors all had MIG kills controlling F-8's. Master Chief Lindsey (Callsign "Sleepy") had several Mig-17 kills on the northern picket station in 67-68 (all with F-8's). The Navy has now gone to the "Lawn Dart" (Hornet). We wish we had a plane like the Crusader. Alas!

I wish to pay tribute to the finest pilot I met in 22 years as a controller. He is one of your own. Vince Lesh. All my finest air control stories center on this inspirational man.

In addition to a complete career as a Crusader Pilot, he has spent 15 more years teaching the Carriers, controllers and pilots of the modern era "how to do it". He has the patience of JOB. He just recently (Feb 98) got an exercise "kill" on an F-14 (with a Lear 36!).

Vince is known to the the last 20 years of controllers and pilots by his callsign. We counted close to 2500 controllers he has trained. This has to make this veteran Crusader man more famous than "Duke" Cunningham.

So as I wind down my activities with Navy fighters, I want to say thank God we had the F-8 and God Bless the Windjammer (Vince).

OSCS (SW) Frevele "GUMBY" 90

John "Balls" Cotton (RADM-USNR) has been passing on your F-8 stories to me for a couple of months, and I have really enjoyed them. The most recent one from Chip "Track" Meyers has inspired me to write you. I haven't heard from Track (or Bubba as he was also known) for some time, and I'd like to get his email address if possible to catch up on old times.

Track was one of my RAG instructors at VFP-63 in 1975. The last fighter FRPs (jargon at the time for Fleet Replacement Pilots) were finishing the RAG (headed to the Handjob and the O'boat) as I came on board, so I was assigned to photo F-8s, the best kept secret in the Navy, in my humble opinion. At any rate, there were about 4 or 5 ensign FRPs at the time just starting the RAG. The RAG IPs were all Viet Nam vets, mostly fighter pilots, many of whom had gotten screwed in the Great Passover of 1975 when the Aviator community got boned for LCDR numbers. The RAG at the time was a real laissez faire affair, the theory being that if you sent an ensign with 10 hours in the F-8 out to fly by himself, and he didn't mistake the Gulf of California for the Salton Sea when his TACAN and ADF crapped out (true story: FRP, in a pleading voice on fumes just prior to flameout: "Are there islands in the Salton Sea?" VFP-63 Skipper on the Ready Room radio: "No, son, I'm afraid there aren't"), then he might eventually matriculate into a decent F-8 pilot. Sort of an expensive weeding out process, but at the time VFP-63's accident rate was about 220 per 100,000 hours, so a couple of more one way or the other would hardly be noticed. (In fact, in 1975 AIRPAC got permission to exclude the F-8 accident rate from their weekly report to DCNO Air so they wouldn't look so bad against AIRLANT (which had no F-8s by then), and at one time in 1975, every available officer in VFP-63 was involved on a Mishap Board.) At any rate, it was a great time to be a RAG student.

We had complete access to the squadron's F-8Js and little if any supervision--and we were flying out of Miramar. Since the IPs were busy finishing the tactics training with the last class of fighter FRPs, we could actually schedule "Day Dick Around" flights (a term coined, I believe, by Mike "Shoe" Garnett, although Chip Meyers may have also been involved in the coinage) which would appear on the schedule as "DDA." Well, one Friday afternoon another FRP (who shall remain nameless--call sign: "Puke") and I got the wild hair to fly a section DDA (pretty progressive since we hadn't had any F-8 form hops at the time, only had about 10 total F-8 hours between us, and hadn't really flown at all in the past 6 months since getting our wings--we didn't even know what section qual meant). Most of the IPs had headed over for an alpha strike on the Club, and the only authority around was the SDO, a recently arrived FRP who hadn't yet flown the F-8. He got Maintenance to put two F-8Js on the line ("Sure, it'll be ok."), and off we went. The running rendezvous must have been as bad as ever flown out of Miramar, but luckily we didn't hit each other. We flew over to the Grand Canyon and terrorized Lake Meade, flew down the Colorado River as low as we could, and tried a couple of head-ons before we realized that we were REALLY low on gas. The time to head home had long since passed, but we didn't dare bingo to El Centro, since we didn't want to look bad. Well, we decided to skip the formalities of screwing with LA center (we wanted to be able to talk with each other to plan the break since we hadn't bothered with a brief before takeoff and to get our stories straight just in case), strangled our parrots, and headed up to somewhere above 18,000 ft. When directly over El Centro with Low Fuel lights, Puke had the first of several compressor stalls (I could even hear them), but we were God's Own Drunks and fearless men at the time, so we pressed on. Since we had decided to put on a show in the break at Miramar, straight-ins were out of the question (we had been firmly schooled that it was far better to die than look bad and we were trying our best to do both, ultimately succeeding with the latter). The ensuing 500+ knot fan break was also arguably the absolute worst ever flown at Miramar (by F-8s) although we were told that we at least sounded good (oil cooler doors open, naturally) and brought tears to the eyes of all the F-8 pilots out on the O'Club patio who had to face the howls of the Phantom and Tomcat pukes. We landed with so little gas that I had to get Puke to quit fueling in the hot pit so I could get in before I flamed out. Well, not having any basis from which to judge, we thought we had flown a pretty shit-hot flight, conveniently forgetting the long list of screw-ups. We both lived to press our luck another day, and we had had about as much fun as could be had.

Sorry I ran on with this. When I started typing, a lot of memories came back. I've been fortunate to fly a lot of different airplanes since my Crusader days, but none has ever come close to being as much fun.

Unfortunately, this wasn't the last time I almost ran out of gas in an F-8, and all of my "never agains" seemed to be too quickly forgotten.

Keep up the good work, and keep the stories coming!

Rob "Moon" Rivers 91

Back in l965 I left the Coral Sea to be re-trained in the F8 at l24. I had never gone to a RAG. I was in VF 9l prior and "self trained" by Jeff McVey and Red Levitt. I was bouncing with Ed Hickey and several FRP's. Ed and I were called into Mutha's office one day for a lecture (Merle G.) The LSO's had reported to him that Ed and I were not taking FCLP's seriously. We went on to the boat anyway. The WX was really bad that first 2 days. Well the powers be decided to launch the 2 LCDR's and no one else. The WX continued bad and we finished our quals in record time. Then bingoed together. ED told me to go down first to Miramar. I took a "cut" at the end of the approach lights. The tower asked me how the WX was. I told them it was really bad and the other F8 should be sent to El Centro. Ed did not have any nice things to say to me and I am glad he is a forgiving man. To this day I have not repeated this story until now. Forgive me ED!!!

John Barlow


There is a USMC Gen. (ret) that may know more about Marion Carl. He is John K. Davis and was the ass't Commandant of the Marines in the late 70's or early 80's. He and I were in the training command together in 60-63 as instructors in the FllF. He was a Maj. and I was a Lt. at the time. Was at Chase Field, VT-26. He told me a story about Gen Carl at that time--

Gen Marion was on a cross-country in a T-33 (TV-2) back then. Somehow he decided or was told he did not have enough fuel to get where he was going, so he cruise climbed 'til he got as much alt. he could and then shut the engine down. After he decided he had the right amount of miles he needed, he re- started the engine and continued on and landed safely! This was told to me in l960, second hand and I am not sure I have all the facts correct.

When we were flying in Viet Nam one of the things we did was have some sort of story that if told , it was for sure you were who you saidyou were if you became a POW. Here is a story that will make Gen. J.K. Davis sure that I am the one that sent the other reply. We did a lot of duck and goose hunting together. On one of our hunts The Gen. (maj at the time) warned some hunters near by that if they started shooting at the "birds" while they were so far out of range that they were wearing 02 masks he would light up their blind. Well, it happened and the good GEN to be stood up and blasted away with a Win. model l2 and the hunt got better after that since they left the area. He would have been a great F8 pilot!!! .

John Barlow

PWO NOTE: Click here for more Marion Carl tales


One of my friends who was a phantom pilot with the USMC in VietNam mailed me a forward on your reflections at the wall........reading it made me weep too. I recall seeing a phantom crash around Hill 861 at Khe Sanh while I was a corpsman with a grunt unit there. One pilot ejected and the other rode the plane into the moutainside. Our squad helped to recover the pilot who ejected. The pilot who was KIA was the son of one of the Marine generals. About a year later, one of the C.O.'s of a line unit there with the Marines told me that they recovered a bone or two for the family. I, for one, have a deep appreciation for all of you pilots and tremedous respect for your bravery..

Dan Polland


[This is from Layne Galbraith, top man in my Navy flight school class-1996 pilot of the year in San Francisco for United Airlines]

I was reviewing some of the e-mail you sent and ran on to the conversation about the picture of Jack Terhune's F-8, the gear dropping, etc. before his ejection. Jack and I were on the Coral Sea at the same time. I was in one of the rescue helos which got the call to go rescue Jack when we found out he had been hit. I was about a mile behind Sal Pace, the pilot of the other helo. Sal arrived over Jack before me and picked him up. I was hoping I could pick him up--since he was my instructor in advanced T-28's at Whiting field. What a coincidence. Great instructor--tried to get me to go to jets.


When the "J" first "hit the streets" Bruce Boland and I flew almost all the "test" Field Carier Landing Practice flights and gave it the "thumbs up". Of course we never had to wave off. It was great if you made no mistakes. Bummer, should have tested the wave off performance, but were never asked to do so. He was Maint. and I was his ass't. We should have been allowed to go "shipping" but again not allowed to do so. It was not our job. We were in VF- l24. For those of you who had to find out about the "wave-off" I am truly sorry.

The good Gen. was not the only one to bring home game in the old T-28. Years ago Lt Joe Satrapa went on a "training flight" out of Fighter Town in a station 28. When He returned, the plane capt. saw what he thought was blood dripping from the bagage compartment. It was, when opened, out fell a goat Joe had bagged at San Clemente. By now CDR Satrapa may have forgotten. But some of us have not. .

John Barlow

I shall keep his name confidential since he is a real living Marine (There are no Ex Marines). However, he is known in some circles as Buzzie Craplock.

Buzzie was in a F8 Squadron at MCAS Beaufort and he was scheduled to fly one night. It was dark when he taxied out to the far end of the field for take off. As he taxied out he realized he should have stopped by the head before departing since his bladder was beginning to ache. As he arrived at the far end of the field which was about two miles from anything he decided he would take care of his problem while he had a chance rather than endure the pain throughout the flight. As he came to a stop at the end of the taxiway he cocked the nose wheel to prevent the airplane from rolling. After accomplishing this he opened the canopy, unstrapped and stood up. Turning to his right he began to take care of his bladder problem.

As he was doing this he noticed that the blue taxiway light began moving. Realizing that it was not really the light moving but the F8 beginning to roll he reached back behind him for the throttle to insure that it was at idle. In the process he managed to come around the horn with the throttle and shut down the engine.

Now he was in a real fix, two miles away from civilization with a dead airplane and no radio to call for assistance. So he did what any clever marine would do. He climbed out of the airplane and walked back up the taxiway to operations. He wrote up the airplane as having flamed out on the taxiway and Maintenance never could figure out how it happenned.

Hall Martin

Admirals and F-8 drivers:

This note from "Moon" Rivers brought back many great memories of those days in Miramar and flying the F-8. In hindsight, although I cannot verify Moon's story, I guess we should have kept a closer eye on those ensigns in the RAG at the time!!

To follow up on Moon's note, I thought you would like to know how it really was back then when we lost so many F-8s that AIRPAC calculated the class "A" mishap rate "with" and "without" F-8s. This must sound insane by today's standards but this is really "No S...!!

In 1975, I was just returning from my second cruise on Hancock with VFP-63 and was assigned to the F-8 RAG as an instructor. I was the MMCO at the time but I ended up with the safety officers job when the former safety officer was killed in a CFIT accident. I recall having about 12 Class "A" aircraft accidents in some stage of investigation or endorsement over an 18 month period (it took an inordinate amount of time to get all the endorsements to close out an accident and get the final cause established). We couldn't close them up fast enough.

We lost F-8s in every conceivable way. I don't know how the CO's of the RAG were able to stay in command. I guess nobody else wanted the job!! At that time there was concern that the F-8 community was not getting the best students out of the Training Command and that this may have been a factor in several of our "loss of controlled flight" accidents. I think we had about 3 or 4 of them in about 18 months; all students or low flight time new guys. (One in the break at NAS Dallas, the aircraft landed in the BOQ. No fire and no one killed, although there was a guy in the room where the A/C landed. Engine was still running down. The guy was on the second deck and the only injury he got was a sprained foot from jumping from the second deck to the ground below. We lost one in the desert in Arizona; the pilot lost control (departed) at low level in a tight turn trying to get pictures of a very circuitous rail line. It was a photo hop. Even experienced fleet pilots had a hard time getting 100% coverage of the railroad. The pilot got picked up by a passing train! We lost another F-8 on a TACAN approach to March AFB. The pilot stalled it (bad Angle of Attack gauge) and departed it at very low altitude. He jumped out and got so close to the fireball that it raised him back up from the heat and he just missed landing in the flames. No injuries but his nickname from that day on was " Fireball"[no relation to Fireball Johnson, our web master .) We had the CFIT accident involving the safety officer I just mentioned. It was ultimately determined to be most probably caused by self medication (A very high level of antihistamine in his system); the pilot flew into a small hill, on centerline, upright, engine running normally, CAVU, no ejection attempt while on a low level route. This occurred three days before Christmas. What a tragedy.

We lost three F-8's due to fuel control malfunctions (determined to be engine roll back, caused by deteriorated seals in fuel controls which had been reworked at NARF and stayed on the shelf about 5 years before installation) and at least two more F-8's due to flight control malfunctions which were never really explained but could have been stalls/departures (one off the cat on JFK. The pilot was at 75 degrees AOB at flight deck level and could not stop the A/C from rolling. He jumped out. Never got a full chute and hit the water sometime between seat man separation and chute deployment. No injuries. Another at San Clemente at night in the CCA pattern; when the aircraft dirtied up, it rolled inverted and the pilot couldn't get it upright.) No injuries.

We had a burner blowout off the cat on Coral Sea, the nozzles remained open and the A/C settled into the water. The pilot ejected right off the bow and got one swing and the ship almost ran him over. He survived without a scratch.

We lost two aircraft on "THE WASH RACK at VFP-63" when a de-fueling truck exploded and caught two aircraft on fire!! They had just completed a post cruise corrosion inspection and were the best looking F-8's on the planet!! The investigation determined that the cause "May have been" due to fuel splashing and mixing of different fuels in the same tank. The truck in question had been a fueler but had been converted to a de-fueler and it lacked baffles in the tank to reduce this splashing effect. I never understood the explanation but I did not have a better idea. When the truck exploded there were plenty of maintenance guys around, but there were no injuries. A miracle.

In addition to all the above, we had several nose gear collapse accidents aboard ship (CARQUAL) and also several canopies come off in flight due to poorly manufactured shear bolts that were modified to give the seat a zero-zero capability. The bolts got corroded and when they failed, the canopy flew off. This happened to our skipper at VFP-63, just after lift off from Miramar. Naturally we blamed him for not locking the canopy even though he swore that he locked it. (He had been an F-4 skipper before he got the FRS and we simply didn't believe him!!) It took a long time to finally determine that the bolts were the real cause. Sorry Skipper!!!

That's twelve F-8 class "A" and more class B's and C's than I can recall. It was an exciting time. Having the safety officers job was not fun but flying the F-8 made it all worthwhile.

Capt Bob "Papi" Sandweg

If you start Satrapa stories we will run out of RAM! However, one of my many memorable stories of this inspirational person & great aviator was in the training command as a SNA @ Chase Field. I returned from a late afternoon flight hungry, walked into the BOQ mess (too bad that went away) and was suprised to see the place empty (this is !8:00) except for Satrapa and a putrid smell . Strapa was eating with a skunk @ his feet that he had bagged in the bush. Donot recall wether I joined him nor what he did with the skunk?

Bill Bertsch 99

I have forgotten the exact details, spelling of names, etc., but recall that a former VF-24 pilot, Kent Billue (sp?), after serving for a brief time at VF-124 as an IP in the 1966-67 era (where I met and flew with him), went to TPS at PAX River. He eventually had the service test project of F8J landing performance and gave it a thumbs down -- couldn't safely wave-off. However, the powers that be refused to forward his findings and Kent quit the Navy in disgust. Anyone have more, or more accurate, details?

Tom Corboy

Frog Allen adds:

I have some info concerning Tom Corboy's comments on Kent Billue.  He was my room mate for two cruises, 64-66, in VF-24 on Hancock.  He was a great carrier aviator.  He did instruct in 124 in 66-67 before going to TPS.  He was in carrier suitability and gave the F-8J an unsat for wave off performance.  His boss told him to change it, that the airplane was going to the fleet.  He refused, saying that he would not sign off on an airplane that was going to kill fleet aviators.  He was sent to the school to teach and someone else gave the airplane an up.

Kent later went to VF-102, in F-4s, and then resigned and went to civlant.  He has since passed away due to cancer [1999].  Kent was a very principled guy and did the right thing.

John "Frog" Allen



Commenting on Bob (Papi) Sandweg's description of west coast Rag problems. In the first half of the 1960s, in the east coast RAG, several canopies were lost for other than corroded bolts. This was before the 'zero-zero' seat. One or two were lost on 'pressure suit' flights, and maybe 2 or 3 more by taking birds (vultures) through the side windscreen, with the loss of at least one helmet.

The worse damage I saw (on an aircrft which did not crash) from a bird strike was on an A-3 (VQ)(1963). A bird came in through the radom, and up through the floor-board, taking out the foot controls. The pilot had no brakes, and minimum flight control, and having a hard time keeping the starboard side of the A-3 up and level. On a straight in approach from the east at Cecil Field, he was taking the short wire. He hit the runway with only one wheel, with the plane bouncing off the deck and over the wire. The hook was just long enough to catch the wire with the plane off the runway, and slammed it onto the deck. I saw the old 'PUCKER' look on the crew when they climbed out! (The driver and co-driver had blood and feathers all over their flight suits).

Tony Farinella


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