While Doing Aerial Maneuvers

While Doing Aerial Maneuvers

Date: October 10, 1960

Location: Kaneohe, HI

As a Marine First lieutenant flying an FJ4B fighter/attack aircraft on a solo night exercise, I was at 50,000' in a clean aircraft, no ordinance racks, and was looking for an Air Force F102 out of Hickham or a Marine F8U from Kaneohe to jump for a hassle.

The Sun was setting or actually down, but at that altitude I still had light.

All this was SOP.

After a while of cruising out over the water, I spotted a light approaching below and in front of me, about 10 miles away.

Assuming it was one of the other aircraft I was looking for, I set up an attack run on the assumed plane, rapidly descending, going to full power, reversing course to slide into a 6 o'clock firing position on the target plane which was at about 33,000.

As I was turning in the descent and by then going just supersonic, about Mach 1.1, I realized I'd misjudged the other's speed which put me in a sucked trail position.

Nevertheless my speed was adequate to start closing on the other aircraft.

Shortly the plane came onto my gunsight radar and I was pulling it into machine gun range.

The light was getting much brighter, but I was not close enough to make out its shape visually in the dusky light.

At about the time I reached simulated firing range, the other aircraft made an immediate, 90° change of direction which was not a turn as we would know it, but an immediate directional change, and then accelerated over the the open ocean to our right, still maintaining the same altitude, and straight over the horizon line defined by the sunset.

The speed this vehicle reached, seemingly instantly, must have been in thousands of miles per hour.

Years later, I described the above to a well known celebrity pilot who had had basically the same experience over Jakharta on a worldwide publicity flight for Air Commander Inc.

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