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USAF

421st TFS 388th TFW

F-16A

79-0316

10th April 1981

         Major John L. Cary Jr.

Major John L. Cary Jr.'s F-16A was part of  of a four ship, afternoon mission from Hill Air force Base for target practice and then to route to Buckley Air National Guard Base in Colorado. On approaching Buckley Major Cary's F-16 main generator failed. The aircraft pitched violently downward and out of control. Major Cary ejected sustaining minor lacerations to the face, blackened eyes and a bruised leg. The aircraft was destroyed on impact.

At 1.09 MST on 10th April 1981 36 year old Major John L. Cary Jr. flying an F-16A 79-0316 of the 421st TFS 388th TFW, callsign Widow 1 from Hill Air Force Base, Utah on a peacetime surface attack training mission. 

After a successful 500 ft low level reaching of the airburst range the four ship flight carried out split operations and rejoined departing north out of Pueblo, Colorado. Cary's main generator light illuminated and following normal procedural checks declared an emergency. He directed his aircraft towards Buckly Air National Guard Base. Within a period of less than five minutes from the original warning light  the Emergency Power Unit failed and the F-16 went out of control.

In clear weather at a height of 1,000 feet and travelling at 200 KIAS. flying over farmland in Kiowa, Colorado Major Cary ejected himself with the aircraft nose pitched down 90 degrees.

In the micro-seconds that the ejection of the McDonnell Douglas ACES II  took the canopy separated and from the negative "6g pitchdown" situation Major Cary sustained a sore neck, a chipped tooth and swollen eyes. Major Cary clearly remembers the sequence as time stretched due to "temporal distortion" that,

"I was able to hold the ejection handle and when I felt I wasn't hanging in my straps, I ejected. Although it seemed like an eternity, the whole sequence only took 6 seconds. My parachute landing was not stellar as I lost the sight in my right eye, due to negative g's, until approximately 15 - 20 minutes after landing."

Several months after Major Cary's ejection another accident, this time fatal, caused a revision in the F-16's electrical system

 

Major John Cary - photograph taken a little over a year later at Edwards AFB on his first flight in the F-16XL

 via Major John Cary