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Royal Canadian Air Force 417 OTS Cold lake

CF-104 Starfighter

 104769

4th May 1973

Captain John B. Croll
 

"This was a high speed, ultra low altitude ejection from the CF-104. During a training flight, I had gotten into a fairly steep dive angle for a simulated weapons release, and was having trouble with the pullout due to the operation of the automatic pitch control (APC) system (stick kicker). I finally overpowered the kicker, but the pullout was so low that the aircraft clipped the top 10 feet off a 60 foot spruce tree. The impact with the tree, at an aircraft speed of about 500 knots, caused extensive aircraft damage. The shock of the impact, including the shattering of the canopy, caused me to begin to lose consciousness (gray-out and tunnel vision) and I initiated ejection before blacking out.

The windblast at 500 knots ripped off my helmet as soon as the seat departed the aircraft, knocked me unconscious, and caused considerable facial injuries. Fortunately, all the automatic ejection features worked, and I landed in the trees after only a couple of "swings" in the parachute (as recounted by my wingman later on, since I was unconscious and unable to enjoy the ride!). I woke up about 20 minutes later, and recall that the forest seemed very quiet, with the birds singing softly in the trees, and a peaceful lull over everything. In my initial dazed state, I actually thought that I had died, and that this was heaven. At that moment, my wingman flew overhead in his CF-104, looking for evidence of my survival. As soon as I saw him, I recall being very happy that there were CF-104's in heaven, and that I would be able to continue flying!! As it turned out, I recovered from my injuries and had a successful flying career over the next 30 years."

 

                                                                            John Croll, 2nd November 2005

 


                                                                           
4th May 1973
RCAF
CF‑104 104769 417 OTS Cold lake Aircraft hit trees on practice weapons delivery

Capt. John B. Croll.

Lockheed C-2  

Mike,

I do not have any objections to connecting my course photo to my ejection from a Canadian CF-104 Starfighter on 4 May 1973. Here are some personal memories of this ejection...

 John