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The amazing thing about this one was the aircraft ended up vertical in the pine trees, nose down good shape.Ltjg John Pianetta, on an Instrument Bombing Derby from Lemoore to Fallon. Following a level delivery in an A7-E at 10,000', he started to raise the thermal shield to go visual per the chase pilot's instructions and was inadvertently ejected over the EW range.



The pilot ejected, but after the aircraft rolled 90 degrees, causing him to be ejected across the runway at Yuma, Arizona.As a result, that apparatus was resigned and refitted on all A-7 aircraft. Later, Circa 1973, [] just after I departed for Bupers and the Dambusters were training for yet another deployment, that same John Pianetta was the lead of a nite two plane radar round-robin when his first-tour nugget wingman suddenly disappeared from radar and John's wing during a level turn south at altitude over Alameda. TF-30 P-6 blew up when the heat shield in front of the turbine detached.That plane went straight down into the roof of an apartment building; miraculously, no one was killed except the pilot... The heat shield was intended for the TF-30 P-1 which was a P-6 with afterburner used in the F-111 it was only needed at sea level above Mach 1.2. At the end of the season he transferred to a fleet squadron flying the A-7 aircraft.The aircraft, I believe NH-400, in attitude hold, continued fly pilotless northward with enough fuel to make it into Canada...

I had just taken over as the Dambuster's Safety Officer when the call came in from Fallon that the aircraft had "Crashed" and that the pilot was safely on the ground....

shortly thereafter, it was discovered that the a/c had not crashed and was still airborne.