Reflections on an F-4C inflight emergency

by Benjamin S. Lambeth


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Summarizes the highlights of an emergency that occurred in May 1981 in an F-4C assigned to the 159th Tactical Fighter Group, Louisiana Air National Guard. The aircraft, in which the author was flying as an observer, sustained structural damage during the course of a severe out-of-control gyration caused by extremely violent uncommanded pitch oscillations during high-speed, low-altitude flight. Following these events, the aircraft was returned to controlled flight and safely landed at NAS, New Orleans. An earlier version of this paper was submitted as an informal contribution to the incident investigation. This expanded version, which also dissects the author's decision sequence and attempts to extract useful lessons, has been prepared for wider dissemination to interested F-4 unit commanders, operations and safety officers, and aircrews.

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