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United States Marine Corps

F‑4J Phantom II

BuNo. 153888 / DW 07

16th September 1975

MCAS Beaufort, SC, USA
Pilot Captain Robert G. Dwyer
RIO Captain Richard A. Cote            


Double Flameout Over the Atlantic


USMC "Pokey 07" a McDonnell-Douglas F4-J Phantom II belonging to VMFA-251 MAG-31, MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina took off from NAS Oceana, Virginia during the afternoon of September 16, 1975.

It should have been  a routine training mission for its crew, pilot, 28 year old, Captain  Robert G. Dwyer and his RIO Captain Richard Cote, both with  VMFA-251.

A compressor-stall induced a double flameout. Dwyer attempted to deploy RAT (emergency generator), but, ". . . the handle broke off in my hand."  

US naval Phantoms had no no internal batteries and he was unable to airstart engines.  

Dwyer communicated the situation with his RIO Captain Cote by shouting.

They were above the Atlantic Ocean with solid cloud deck from 4,000’ to 10,000’ and an aircraft with neither engine functioning. Abandoning the aircraft was the only viable option. Captain Dwyer decided to glide as close to shore as possible.

At about 1820 GMT, passing 10,000’ msl, wings level, approximately 5-10 degrees nose down at 220KCAS when they were approximately 20NM northeast Cape Hatteras when they, ". . ejected entering under cast with no functioning attitude indicator. " ". . . both of us pulled the face curtains simultaneously initiating the Dual sequenced ejection. The canopy was jettisoned by sequencing system."

Things appeared to happen in slow motion, Bob Dwyer, like most ejectees, experienced the phenomenon of "Temporal Distortion" and  has the, ". . . distinct recollection of rear seat firing, my seat firing, twisting to right, time release mechanism releasing drogue chute shackle and main chute opening."

The Martin-Baker H-7 rocket assisted ejection seats worked as intended.

Richard A. Cote, being the back-seater was ejected first and received no injuries. Bob Dwyer then followed, however his ejection was not quite as perfect as it could have been.

He recalls, "Hit toe of right boot on weapons panel (“dogbone”) during ejection and it cut into the steel toe of my boot."
His sustained, "Bruise and cut from corner of right jawbone to collarbone from riser, bruise “tattoo” from torso harness, and somewhat sore back and neck."


Over 30 years after the event Bob says, "I'm obviously a big fan of Martin-Baker ejection seats; in fact, I have a fully restored H-7A seat in my, "I Love Me" room.





                                                                         photo via Bob Dwyer

Captain Robert G. Dwyer

courtesy of www.military-graphics.com

Bob's fully restored
Martin-Baker H-7A Ejection Sea




May 29, 1974

Here’s another photo of my Marine Corps handiwork (intention due to multiple failures and it flew the next day).

 Sincere thanks to Bob Dwyer Lt Col, USAF, retired
for providing the information on his ejection





Photo of my last flight in a Phantom in 1981 

This was after my transfer to the Air Force.  You may note the long hair on my backseater---she was my girlfriend, a 1Lt (Laura J. Matthews) who had won an incentive flight in a Phantom.  

My CO made me swear not to shine my ass and I could fly her.  We got married a couple of years later in England and I believe I’m now the only Air Force pilot to legally have flown his wife in a Phantom