18th May 1955
McDonnell
McDonnell F-3H-1N Demon 133495 McDonnell Engine failure during dive in test flight.
 Crashed in an Illinois cornfield
Robert H. Strange
killed
  McDonnell Seat
 

Robert H. "Bob" Strange
via Jeffrey Favre (Bob's son)

 

PLANTWIDE ADDRESS
DELIVERED AT 9:25A.M.,
19TH MAY 1955

THIS IS BOB CHARLES CALLING ALL PERSONNEL. THIS IS BOB CHARLES CALLING ALL THE TEAM.

 

I WANT TO GIVE YOU A REPORT ON THE TRAGEDY ABOUT WHICH MOST OF YOU HAVE ALREADY HEARD. YESTERDAY AT ABOUT 3:00P.M. BOB STRANGE, ONE OF OUR ENGINEERING TEST PILOTS, WAS KILLED IN THE CRASH OF AN F3H-l DEMON 9 IN WHICH HE WAS MAKING A TEST FLIGHT. BOB HAD JUST COMPLETED A DIVE FROM 40, 000 FEET AT FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF SOUND TO TEST DYNAMIC PRESSURES IN THE RADAR COMPARTMENT UNDE.R THESE CONDITIONS.

 

BOB'S AlRPLANE WAS ACCOMPANIED ON THIS FLIGHT BY ANOTHER DEMON, PILOTED BY GEORGE EATON, AND STILL ANOTHER DEMON (PILOTED BY NAVY PILOT BOB HAMILTON) WAS IN THE AREA, AND THEREFORE VISUAL AS WELL AS RADIO CONTACT WERE MAINTAINED DURING THE EMERGENCY. FROM THIS WE KNOW THAT THERE WAS A FLAME-OUT OF THE J40 ENGINE ABOVE 25,000 FEET, AND THAT REPEATED EFFORTS TO RESTART THE ENGINE FAILED. BOB KEPT TRYING UNTIL HIS ALTITUDE REACHED 5,000 FEET AT THIS POINT HE ATTEMPTED TO ABANDON THE AIRPLANE, BUT THE EJECTION SEAT DID NOT FUNCTION PROPERLY, FOR REASONS WE DO NOT

YET KNOW.

 

YOU CAN BE SURE THAT EVERY EFFORT WILL BE MADE TO DETERMINE THE CAUSE OF THIS TRAGIC ACCIDENT. WITHIN MINUTES AFTER THE CRASH YOUR MANAGEMENT TOOK IMMEDIATE ACTION TO GROUND ALL F3H-l DEMON AIR PLANES UNTIL A THOROUGH INVESTIGATION CAN BE MADE TO DETERMINE THE CAUSES CONTRIBUTING TO THIS ACCIDENT' AND UNTIL SUITABLE STEPS HAVE BEEN TAKEN TO PREVENT THEIR RECURRENCE.

BOB STRANGE WAS BORN IN SUMTER, SOUTH CAROLINA, IN SEPTEMBER 1922. IN JUNE 1942 HE JOINED THE  NAVY AS AN AVIATION CADET, AND SERVED WITH THE MARINE AIR CORPS FROM 1943 TO 1946. FOR OUTSTANDING DUTY IN COMBAT IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC, HE WAS AWARDED THE AIR MEDAL AND 2 GOLD STARS, AND THE DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS.

AFTER GRADUATING IN MECHANICAL ENGINEERING FROM CLEMSON COLLEGE IN 1948, HE SPENT 3 YEARS DOING ENGINEERING WORK WITH CURTISS-WRIGHT AND FRIGIDAIRE, AND THEN AGAIN SERVED WITH THE MARINES FROM 1951 TO 1953

 

BOB JOINED OUR TEAM AS A DESIGN ENGINEER IN NOVEMBER 1953 AND BECAME A TEST PILOT IN OCTOBER 1954. HE WAS AN EXCELLENT PILOT- ENGINEER , RESPECTED BY THOSE WHO KNEW HIM NOT ONLY FOR HIS PROFESSIONAL ABILITIES BUT FOR HIS FINE PERSONAL QUALITIES.

BOB IS SURVIVED BY HIS WIFE SHIRLEY ANNE AND 4 CHILDREN, DAVID, DOUGLAS, SUSAN AND JEFFREY, TO WHOM WE ALL EXTEND OUR DEEPEST SYMPATHY.

 

WE ARE PROFOUNDLY SADDENED AT BOB STRANGE'S LOSS, AND IT IS FITTING IN MEMORY OF THIS FINE COURAGEOUS MAN, THAT WE SHOULD NOW TOGETHER OBSERVE 10 SECONDS OF SILENCE .

 

BOB GAVE HIS LIFE IN THE FIGHT FOR A FREE WORLD AND AS HE WOULD  HAVE IT, WE SHALL CARRY ON.

 

THIS IS BOB CHARLES SIGNING OFF.