Ejecting from an F-100

by Ken "Stickshift" Waring
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Shot of MUCH younger Stickshift. Included because it's a good shot of squadron emblem (any decal makers out there?)
 

    Forgive me if this narrative doesn't flow as smoothly as it should, a story teller I ain't. My little joy ride took place on 24 Jan., 1973. 1 was a member of the 110th TFS/131stTFG, Missouri ANG. We were based at Lambert Airport, St Louis, MO. I was flying element lead (no.3) in a flight of 4 F-10ODs. 

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We were on a practice air-to-ground gunnery mission to Atterbury Gunnery Range, just SE of Indianapolis, IN. The menu for that mission was 2 low angle bomb passes, 2 high angle bomb, 2 rocket, and 4 strafe. All went well until the 2nd high angle pass. As I was pulling off the target (4gs, 45 deg bank, about 15 deg nose up, 450kts), I pushed the throttle to full military (100%) and heard/felt 2 loud bangs in rapid succession. 

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This image shows how dirty the F-100 got.  One dirty tank...one clean.

 

The first one wasn't bad, but the 2nd one was severe enough to kick my feet off the rudder pedals. When I looked inside the cockpit all the engine gauges (fuel flow, egt, rpm, etc.) were heading for zero. I initiated the immediate restart procedure--throttle-check inboard, airstart switch-on, fuel regulator-emer --- Damn, I can still remember that checklist after all these years! While I was attempting air starts and trying to get turned back toward the range, I called lead and told him I had a problem--the only thing I can brag about is that my voice didn't go up about 3 octaves, or so lead said later. I had enough airspeed to zoom climb to about 10,000 ft, but it soon became obvious that I was going to have to jettison the airplane. 

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An F-100 flying as it should.

 

So, I trimmed it up for a 230kt glide and started stowing loose gear and cinching straps. When I got down to 3,000 ft. agi, I raised the handles. An aside here-the original seat required 2 actions to eject. Raising the handles locked the shoulder harness and jettisoned the canopy, squeezing the triggers fired the seat. Our a/c had been modified to a "single motion" seat; raising the handles accomplished all of the above. When I raised the handles, a whole lot of things happened very quickly. The canopy went and the seat started up the rails. As I recall, the g forces seemed quite mild. But, as soon as my head went above the canopy bow and into the slipstream, my helmet was sucked off my head ( it was a new helmet and didn't quite fit properly, so even though the chin strap was tight enough air got under the visor to suck it right off) so when I got hit in the face w/230kts of wind I closed my eyes. I felt the butt snapper kick me free of the seat and I started tumbling. In a short time the tumbling stopped and I opened my eyes to see a fully deployed chute. 

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Crash site as seen from above....notice tail section with engine still intact. Tail section. Tail section and other wreckage

 

    After I checked the chute for blown panels, etc., I checked myself over to see if all parts and appendages were still attached and undamaged. I deployed the survival kit and looked down to see where I was going to land. To my dismay I appeared to be heading for a large stream. The thought went through my mind "Oh shit! I escaped from the aircraft and now I'm gonna' land in the water and drown!". Weighed down as I was with chute harness, g-suit with full pockets, .45 in a shoulder holster, etc., there was no way I wanted to make a water landing. I have no idea how deep it was but, hey, why press your luck? So, I dug the survival knife out of my g-suit and performed a "4 line cut" (cutting 4 of the shroud lines to build a "bubble" in the back of the chute to give some steerability), that allowed me to steer toward an open field. As I was descending, I mentally ran through the PLF (parachute landing fall) procedure--knees together, feet together, look at the horizon, twist and roll when you hit to take the impact on your side. Right! I hit like a ton of shit and fell right on my butt. Got to my feet, released the chute from the harness, turned off the emergency  beeper, and started digging for the survival radio to let the flight know I was ok. Naturally it didn't work. The flight was making low passes over my position so I did the old "stand up and wave both arms like hell" trick. I had landed in an open field about 100 meters from a dirt road. I threw all my gear and the chute in the liferaft and started dragging it toward the road. I was about 25 meters from the road when a guy in an old beat up pick up came smoking up in a cloud of dust and yelled "Hey, you need a lift? ------- unbelievable! Turns out he was a range employee on his way to work and had seen my chute. He gave me a ride to the range admin. building where I called the unit to let them know I was ok and explain why 56-3327 was no longer part of the inventory. 

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56-3327's instrument panel post crash 

Shortly thereafter a local deputy sheriff showed up and gave me a lift to a nearby hospital to get a medical check-up. No damage except for a very small scratch on one ear where one of the risers had nicked me as the chute deployed. Later that afternoon the unit sent the C-54 to fly me back to base. As I got off the 54 my squadron commander met me on the ramp, tossed me a cold beer and said "Figured you could use this.". No shit. that one and about 6 more! So ends my non-combat "war story     ------ no shoot-down, no enemy fire, no daring rescue by a Jolly Green --- just your everyday controlled bail-out. 

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This shows the compressor case where the vane made it's exit.

It was determined that the engine failure was caused by the separation of a 3rd stage compressor vane which wiped out all rotating parts aft of there--no way that puppy was gonna' restart. One other thing. I should have run in full nose down trim before I ejected. The damned airplane glided for 7 miles after I punched out, completely missing the range complex! Fortunately it was a sparsely populated area so no harm done. 

 

F-100 flying off into the "Sunset of fond memories".

If you enjoyed this story...please e-mail "Stickshift" and thank him for sharing it with us.

Photos and text 2000 by Ken "Stickshift" Waring

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