United States Air Force

8th TFW

Block 15E


15th December 1982

Captain Daryl Lynn "Smilin'Jack" Hower


Daryl (Smilin’ Jack) circa 1982. The nametag says “Jack” since this was my aka during my fighter days.


Serving with the 35th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 8th Tactical Fighter Wing based at Kunsan Air Base in the Republic of Korea Captain "Smilin' Jack" Hower was flying a routine  peacetime training mission in his General Dynamics F-16A Fighting Falcon jet.

81-0724, "Racoon 1" was over the Yellow Sea off the South Korean Coast with weather conditions at time 9,000 ft overcast down to 5,000ft.

Just before 3:29pm on that Wednesday 15th December 1982 the wing of  a Marine Corps F-4 Phantom II engaged in the DACT sliced through the underside of his F-16.

With fire engulfing the cockpit  the 32 year old USAF Captain  initiated the ejection sequence of his Weber ACES II ejection seat by grasping the seat handle and activating the firing trigger.. The  Canopy separated prior to ejection seat rocket firing sequence. temporal distortion slowed Time down.  At approx 23,000 ftand 150knots with the F-16 10 Degrees Nose Up, 110 Degrees OF Left Bank Daryl was catapulted out of his aircraft into the air. He had just become a member of the Weber Booster's Club

Jack takes up the narrative

"The mission was a preplanned DACT (Dissimilar Air Combat Tactics) mission between two USAF F-16A’s and two USMC F-4’s.  AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) which was orbiting outside the engagement area provided airborne control.  The F-16’s had just returned to the area from air refueling and were tanks full at the time of engagement.  The midair occurred upon initial engagement by the lead F-16 and the lead F-4.  Both aircraft were at the Mach, and it was nearly a head-on pass (resulting in a closure rate of about Mach 2).  Prior to the merge the F-16 was pulling approximately 6.3 g’s in order to avoid the F-4 . . . .  "


                                                                              via Daryl Hower

This is a photo of the configuration of my jet the day of the incident.  The only difference is that the missile was on the other wing the day of the ejection.  Tail number is also different in this photo.



                 Jay Honeck, [Aviation Videos], via Daryl Hower, Lt. Col, (ret) USAF
 (large file takes time to upload - moues over - warning quite loud!!)

". . . The collision took place over the  Yellow Sea off the West coast of South Korea on December 15, 1982. The F-16A and the other aircraft which impacted me was a Marine F-4 . . ."


    ". . . The right wing of the F-4 struck the F-16 at an approximate 35 degree angle through the left gear door, external centerline fuel tank and engine gearbox before exiting out the right aft portion of the F-16 fuselage.  The F-16 immediately became uncontrollable and caught fire.  Ejection occurred within approximately 12 seconds at about 150 knots.   After clearing the debris field, the pilot fell face down in the seat (as designed due to the oxygen being contained within the ejection seat) for approximately 9,000’.  Seat man separation occurred at approximately 14,000’, just prior to the ejection seat falling into the debris field fireball.  The pilot accomplished a four-line jettison in order to make the parachute steerable and as a result, was able to make a landing on a small peninsula of land. "

The actual high altitude ejection worked as intended in its mode 3 selection and no difficulties were encountered.  Every thing seemed to be occurring in slow motion.   "My memories of the actual ejection are in slow motion." 
It had in fact taken a mere 0.05 seconds for the rocket catapult ignition, and another 0.10 seconds for the seat to clear its guide rails, leave the aircraft and the stabilizing system to fire.

As far as injuries were concerned these were minor.  Fire inside the cockpit had, "burned off my eyebrows and eyelashes, also burned off the hair on my forearms since I had my flight suit sleeves rolled up.  As the seat accelerated upward during the ejection sequence, "my spine was compressed."  
"I got riser burns on my neck from the harness as the main chute deployed."

As a result of the mishap the minimum range for  shot criteria (ir missile) was increased to 9,000 ft in the forward hemisphere to allow for adequate separation of aircraft after the shot.



This is a photo taken during the recovery effort.  This area is underwater during high tide.  You can clearly see the impact area, the slice through the centerline fuel tank up into the fuselage and engine bay.   I was pretty lucky to get out.

"This was my first and last ejection!"

                                                             via Daryl Hower
Daryl Hower, Capt, FedEx
(photo taken in April 2006)



                                                                                                                                                                          photo via Gordon Cress

"Captain (now Lt. Col. (ret) USAF) Daryl Hower  who punched out of his F-16  over Korea after a midair with an F-4 became a member of the WEBER BOOSTERS CLUB.  "It was one of the highest ejections at that time at roughly 25,000 feet.  A photo of Daryl, myself and Bob Wildberger (ACES II production manager).  It was taken while we were touring the ACES II production line. It was always a nice thing to have a pilot who had his life saved by one of our systems come by and personally thank the people on the line who actually built the seat.  It also gave the workers a sense of how important their work was what "life support" equipment really meant. "

Gordon Cress

      Sincere thanks to Captain Daryl Hower for permission to include his ejection details  and  Gordon Cress who provided further information on Weber and the ACES II ejection seat.