Project: Get Out and Walk 

Home

Contents

Royal Canadian Air Force 6 STR OTU Cold Lake

CF-104 Starfighter

 104764

1st November 1963

Flt. Lt. Clarke W. "Tex" Gehman
 

I'm on the list of Canadian Starfighter ejections, 1 November,
1963.  Clarke Gehman, known in the racket as Tex.

I was maintenance test pilot at Cold Lake, Alberta and tasked this day
to do a very simple flight to try and locate which fuel tank probe was
causing erroneous readings.  I was briefed to apply accelerations in all
directions (including deceleration).  A rapid throttle retard caused my
engine to flame out and resist relighting.  Later investigation revealed
an improperly seated "O" ring ruptured with the ram effect of the
reduction in fuel demand.

My ejection sequence was from about 1000' AGL and very slow, for the
Zip, something like 250 Knots.  The craft was in full shudder and
sinking rapidly as only that machine could do.

My first impression was that the 1/3 second for everything to happen was
taking a very long time to get done.  Then a rapid light/dark/light/dark
vision of the world as I tumbled rapidly heels over head.  As the 'chute
opened, I swung fore and aft, putting my heels above the horizon then
falling back as the lower edge of the chute collapsed into itself.  This
only happened a few times until I tugged the risers and it immediately
stabilized into a very nice descent.  I was able to turn and watch my ride
take its "dirt nap".  Very sad to see.


It was then that I heard the rushing of the wind in the trees below me
and realized that I had had my helmet and mask torn from my head.  And
it was on very tight!  Landing in the trees at a sideways speed of 20-25
knots taught me what a bowling ball must feel like.  I wished that I had
retained my seat survival pack instead of releasing it on it's lanyard
as we were instructed to do.  (Since revised, I believe, due to my post
incident comment.)

I did not touch the ground, was hung about 20 feet up in trees with my
survival gear strung out in the trees above me.  I got myself down and
felt great to be on terra firma once more.

As an aside, it was later revealed that although I was only 14 Miles
from the base, the control tower did not pick up my Tx on guard.  It was
heard by the pilot of another 104 and relayed.  This bit makes me think
that I was perhaps quite a bit lower than the 1000' when I had decided
to "step over the side".  I was rescued by helicopter a very short time
after and made it to Friday beer call only a little bit late.  My only
injuries were a lump on the side of my head from tree impact and a
scored eyeball and forehead from the microphone in my mask as it was
torn off over my head.

A while later, the test establishment was doing some trials from a
modified T-33 when the pilot noticed that something flew over his nose
after the seat was fired.  The something was the rocket motor tube from
  the seat.  Fortunately all parts were recovered and it was found that
the nozzle of the rocket had been installed backwards, so instead of
putting the thrust through the center of gravity, it made a pinwheel out
of the seat/man(in this case "dummy").  My seat was never recovered, but
having watched an ejection from very similar speed and sink rate as I
had, mine was very different.  The one I saw was picture perfect,
straight up seat ride and smooth parachute opening.  Unfortunately just
as we were cheering his success, the fireball came up and got him. For
this reason, although it can't be proved, I suspect that I rode a faulty
rocket.

                                                               Tex Gehman, 27th October 2005

 


                                                                            via Tex Gehman

Here's a pic of me a couple of years earlier (1960).  It's in
front of a Sabre, which I flew for five years preceding my stint on the 104. 

1st November 1963
RCAF
CF‑104 104764 6 STR OTU Cold Lake Failure of main fuel control unit F/t. Lt. C. W. Gehman Lockheed C-2