by Niel Fossum

After being spoiled flying the F~6F Sabre at Nellis Air Force Base, I was assigned to Tyndall with the F~6 "Dog" in my future. It may not have been the "F,', but its wings were "bent", and so I thought it could not be all that bad! But at the time, F~6Ds were falling out of the sky around Tyndall with regularity because their turbine buckets had a nasty habit of leaving the airplane prior to landing. At one point, three of mybu& dies had their backs in casts atthe same time after ejecting from the beasts. On another occasion, during one dark night, my friend's "Dog" started burning so brightly while entering his initial landing approach that he lifted his wrist to see what time it would be when he crashed! We were all very much on the "alert" as there were always a few guys getting bitten bythe "Dogs". This brings me to the day I thought my F~D bit me. May 2, 1955 was a beautiful day in Florid~ At 10:30~m., atwo bird mission was scheduled, with me leading and Lieutenant Ken Hughey flying my wing. Our take off went normally from runway 31L out of Tyndall. As we changed to a tactical frequency, I glanced over and saw Ken neatly tucked in beside my Sabre. At that same moment, my Dog "exploded" and started vibrating my molars loose. All I could think was that my Sabre's turbine buckets must be flying apart, but all my gauges were still in the green. I switched back to the tower and yelled, "Mayday! Mayday! I've had an engine explosion, and I need the left runway." While turning on final, I thought I could hear my fuel burning, and I was sweating losing the hydraulic pressure to myelevator. But italiworked out fine, and my barrier impact was at 100 knots. I had my engine shut down and was sitting to the side of the runway smoking a cigarette when our Flying Safety Officer (~~SO) arrived. Re asked me, "Neil, what happened to your radar equipment cover on the nose?" I replied, "I don't know. The firemen must have removed it while checking for a fire." The FSO then informed me that they did not do that!After looking back at him, I thought, "Oh, shoot!" Then Isald, "Well, that must have been the cause of the explosive sound and all that vibration in my air-craft (it's rough trying to be a hero!) As it turned out, my "Dog" had not really bitten me. Soon after, they put on some new gear doors and that missing radar equipment access cover, and we were back in the air that afternoon.

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