58-0787 lands Pilot-less in a field in Montana
F-106A 58-0787 of the 71st FIS landed without a pilot in a field in Montana on 2 Feb 1970 after pilot Captain Gary Faust ejected. The tail markings belonged to the 71st FIS out of Malmstrom AFB at the time of the landing, however the 71st FIS was later changed to the 319th FIS, Malmstrom. Retired Colonel Wolford (Major at the time) was the Chief of Maintenance at the 71st FIS at the time. His name was stenciled on on the side of 58-0787 as the pilot, however, Major Wolford wasn't flying the bird at the time of the incident.
Account by Col Wolford
Three F-106s were on a ACM (Air Combat Maneuvers) that day when 58-0787 went into a flat spin and according to procedures Captain Gary Faust bailed out at 15K feet. One of the accompanying F-106 pilots, IP Major Jimmy Lowe, observed the ejection and also observed 58-0787 straighten out right after ejection and reportedly transmitted "Gary - you'd better get back in it!". Major Wolford got a call from the sheriff about an airplane sitting in a field with the engine running and wanted to know how to shut it off. The sheriff was advised to just let it run out of fuel. The plane was resting gear up, engine running, on a small amount of snow, with a slight downhill grade and as the snow melted under the aircraft, it would creep forward some, which had the sheriff rather excited.
A depot team from Sacramento Logistics Center, McClellan AFB later came in, took the wings off, put everything on a railroad flatcar (a railroad set of tracks was conveniently located about a mile from the landing site), and shipped it to McClellan AFB, CA where it was repaired. Colonel Wolford said he'd like to have flown it out of there but after the aircraft was lifted up, the under side damage was greater than thought. The Stable Table had exited the bottom through the 05 panel area and crunched its way back to the rear of the plane ruining the armament bay doors. The wings were in perfect shape.
Account of the incident by the other IP pilot on the flight, Tom Curtis
"I was the other IP in that flight. The mission was a 2V 2 ACT training flight. My wing man, Larry Mc Bride, aborted when his drag chute deployed on the ramp prior to take off. So it turned out to be a 2V 1, me being the one [Tom Curtis].
We took off as a flight of three. Gary Foust was leading with Jim Lowe in the chase position. We then split up I went to one end of the training air
space and they proceeded to the other end of the air space. We had about a twenty mile separation. The controllers turned us into each other so we passed head on with a thousand feet separation. The ROE (rules of engagement) were we had to pass head on with no tactical advantage to either flight. After passing the fight was on. The object was to gain a tactical advantage on the opponent and maneuver in to valid firing position. After landing we would review the film and try to reconstruct the engagement. Of course, this was a big ego thing. who was the winner etc.
I figured I could handle Gary pretty easy but I did not trust Jimmy. I figured he would probably break off and come after me. With this thought in
mind, I came at them in full afterburner I was doing 1.90 mach when we passed. I took them straight up at about 38,000 ft. We got into a vertical
rolling scissors. I gave him a high G rudder reversal. He tried to stay with me, that's when he lost it. He got into a post stall gyration. This happens
just prior to a stall. The aircraft violently rolls left and right and sometimes swaps ends, a very violent maneuver. His recovery attempt was
unsucceful and the aircraft stalled and went into a flat spin which is usually unrecoverable.
The aircraft looked like the pitot tube was stationary with the aircraft rotating around it. Very flat and rotating quite slowly. Well,. Gary rode it
down to about 15,000 feet. All this time Jimmy Lowe was giving the spin recovery procedures. Part of the spin recovery procedures is to actuate the take off trim button. This trims all the control surfaces to a take off setting, which is a bout the same as for landing. So when Gary ejected the
aircraft was trimmed wings level for about 175 knots a very nice glide setting.
When he ejected the aircraft straightened out and glided toward a perfect landing. I couldn't believe it ! Jimmy sez "get back in there."
The aircraft landed in a snow covered field and Gary landed in the mountains. This was in February in Montana. Our concern was Gary's safety.
However, the Indians got him out ok on their snow mobiles. The sheriff climbed upon the wing of the aircraft, engine still running and the radar
still sweeping. when the air craft started to slid forward a bit he got down off the wing. He said when the rotating beacon went off he figured the