United States Air Force 16th TRS

RF-4C Phantom II


14 September 1979

363rd TRW, 9th AF, Shaw AFB, South Carolina, USA


Major Thomas Andrew Galayda


4.     Date of the ejection / bale-out


14 September 1979


5.     Time of the ejection / bale-out


0909R (EDT)





12. Callsign you were known by that day


"Ruth 12"



14. Height of your ejection / bale-out


10,000 feet MSL (approx.)


15. Airspeed at which you ejected / baled-out


Actual lateral speed was Zero since the aircraft was falling vertically in a flat spin.


16.  Attitude of aircraft at time of ejection / bale-out

(e.g. nose pitched down, 30 degree roll to starboard - inverted)


Flat spin to the right; bank very slightly left (less than 10 degrees); pitch 10 to 15 degrees nose down (approx.)


17. Location you ejected / baled-out – Name of Country, Area, Town. Village etc


Atlantic Ocean, approximately 12NM east of Georgetown, SC.  Latitude: 33 degrees 32 minutes North; Longitude: 78 degrees 47 minutes West


18. Type of terrain you ejected / baled-out over



Water (the Atlantic Ocean)


19.  Weather conditions at time of ejection / bale-out


VMC, with haze aloft of an insignificant degree.  Official weather at the surface: 21017 15SCT 250BKN 6HZ 87F/77F (30.5C/25C) 29.80" Hg


20.  Was the ejection bale-out in Peacetime / Conflict Non-Combat / Conflict Combat?




Ejected self in conjunction of appropriate bale-out command from the instructor pilot in the rear cockpit 


22.  Did you jettison the canopy or was ejection / bale-out through the canopy?


Canopy was jettisoned first, before the seat, during the standard Martin-Baker automatic ejection seat sequence


23.  Did you experience any difficulty in ejection / bale-out / parachuting e.g. seat separation, tumbling, landing?


No, other than the loss of my helmet


24. Did you suffer any injuries prior to, during or after ejection / bale-out and what were they caused by?


No, only extremely minor facial bruises from the loss of my helmet


25.  Did you experience temporal distortion where time appears to extend? If Yes could you briefly describe the sensation




26.  did you in your ejection experiences ever have what several pilots told me – a sensation that they were outside of their aircraft witnessing the events as they unfolded – I suppose what would be called by some as an “out of body experience” – or have you ever spoken to other ejectees / egressees who mentioned such a phenomenon?


No.  And, having heard of some pilots experiencing this phenomenon during ejections I was watching for it.  However, I experienced none.


27.  What ejection seat / parachute make  / mark did you use and do you know type of parachute used? 


Both seats were Martin-Baker; my type in front seat was type MK-H7AFA1 and rear seat IP's was type MK-H7AFAZ.  Both parachutes were type MK-117 with Koch canopy releases






32. Do you have any information as to any other ejection or ejectee or “caterpillar member”?




33.  Was this your only ejection / bale-out? If no could you please fill out a similar form for each ejection / bale-out?


Yes, only ejection.


34. Do you know if your ejection caused any alteration to either the system or amendments to the safety training procedures?


Yes.  Recommendations of the Mishap Board were adopted, except the aft fuselage section fire/overheat warning circuitry.  They were:

"Fleetwide F/RF-4 visual inspection and pressure check of the aft fuselage vent line system." and

"TAC/AFLC consider engineering changes to the aft fuselage area to include installing a stronger fuel vent line/rerouting the vent line and adding fire/overhead warning circuitry."

Also, though not written into the Mishap Report, I understood that this mishap resulted in discussion within the USAF as to the wisdom of the continued use of highly flammable H5606 (red) hydraulic fluid in USAF aircraft.



36 year old USAF Major Thomas Andrew Galayda was flying in the front cockpit of a McDonnell Douglas RF-4C Phantom II 64-1007. The rear seat was occupied by Captain Arthur Kent Sheppard. Both were pilots from 16th TRS, 363rd TRW, 9th AF attached to Shaw AFB, South Carolina, USA.


That morning they were flying an aircraft requalification training flight when things went wrong.


Ejection was forced due to loss of all three aircraft hydraulic systems resulting from a fire in the tail of the aircraft.

Total hydraulic failure.  In-flight fire.  Mission was an advanced handling ride.  During a supersonic pitchback maneuver, I, the front seat pilot, felt a thump in the control stick, then PC-2 (hydraulic system) was lost.  Shortly thereafter, Utility and PC-1 (systems) were lost.  The aircraft went out of control, entered a spin and the we ejected.  We were picked up by a local fishing boat, the New Inlet Princess out of Captain Dick's Marina in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.  The aircraft was recovered from 7 fathoms of water by the USS Edenton and delivered to Shaw AFB, SC.  Investigation revealed evidence of fire in excess of 1,200 degrees.  Indications are that the fire in the aft section of the fuselage resulted in the loss of hydraulic systems.  The aft section of the fuel vent line was found with a pre-crash crack, which allowed fuel to leak in the aft fuselage section and was the source of the fire.  The source of ignition was never confidently identified, but was either an electrical spark or heat from the engine afterburners in use during the supersonic pitchback maneuver.  The common and logical believe for the source of ignition was from the afterburner heat.