5 December 1956 – A Northrop XSM-62 Snark, 53-8172, N-69D test model, fitted with a new 24-hour stellar inertial guidance system, launches from Cape Canaveral Missile Test Annex, Florida. It wanders off-course, ignores destruct command, disappears over Brazil. It is found by a farmer in January 1983. The Day They Lost the Snark By J.
Eugene F. Bigham
Gene was born in Baltimore, MD where he grew up with his two younger sisters. He graduated from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, and in 1959 enlisted in the Air Force to follow his dream of flying airplanes. In 1961 he was commissioned as an officer and continued on to pilot training, receiving his first fighter pilot assignment in 1963 flying the F-100.
He loved flying and was known to others as “Big Bird”; a “call sign” approvingly coined by his fellow fighter pilots. He felt privileged to complete close to 5000 hours in the F-100, T-33, T-38, A-7, A-10, and C-12 aircraft. He retired in June of 1991 from Elmendorf AFB, AK as the 11th Tactical Control Wing Commander, after 32 years in the Air Force.
“Big Bird” Bigham flew the F-100 with the 531st Tactical Fighter Squadron/3rd Tactical Fighter Wing out of Bien Hoa AB, Vietnam in 1967, then with the 354th Tactical Fighter Squadron/113th Tactical Fighter Wing out of Myrtle Beach AFB, SC.