Reflections on an F-4C inflight emergency

by Benjamin S. Lambeth

Purchase Print Copy

 FormatList Price Price
Add to Cart Paperback14 pages $20.00 $16.00 20% Web Discount

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.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.