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.
Ronald Albert Bigoness
Ron Bigoness was commissioned as an Aviation Cadet at the age of 20. As a 2nd Lieutenant, he was assigned to a Lockheed F-94 unit as a Radar Intercept Officer (Navigator) from 1952-1954 chasing MIGs in North Korea while escorting B-29’s.
The F-94’s success depended entirely on its all-rocket armament and its radar-controlled interception capabilities. Prior to 1953, the F-94’s missile guidance system was fraught with problems resulting in the loss of a number of B-29 bombers. In 1953 the F-94B was still equipped with 50 caliber guns. With his radar now coupled to the gunsight reticle, Bigoness was able to direct pilots to intercept MIGS. In 56 Combat Missions, Ron never lost another B-29.
From 1953-1955 Ron Bigoness was stationed at Otis AFB in Massachusetts with Major Chappie James as his Commanding Officer.
After attending Pilot Training Class in 1955-Ron was assigned to the F-100, pulling Nuclear Alert at Clark AB in the Philippines. Shortly after the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, Ron’s unit deployed to Danang AB, Vietnam. There he escorted RF-101 Vodoo reconnaissance fighters on Flak Suppression Missions deep in North Vietnam and Laos. On an early flight-of-four, he took fire from a gun battery of Quad 50’s and successfully attacked. This incident required Ron to respond to a two-star Major General calling from Saigon to ascertain the validity of the after-action report. His Crew chief offered to put a hole in Ron’s jet to confirm who shot first! All this is touchy but true!
After his well-reported rescue from the jungles of Laos (see Ron’s Caterpillar story) and his subsequent medical leave and rehabilitation of his injuries, Ron volunteered to serve out his original tour in Vietnam. In 1968/1969 Bigoness was stationed at Phan Rang. A hit to the nose of his F-100 barely missed his legs as the bullet entered next to the pitot tube then the top inside of the intake and finally stopped by the instrument pan. Ron only noticed the hole after landing.
His next assignment was to Europe (Germany) at USAF Headquarters and his final assignment found him at the USAF pilot training base (Craig) in Selma, AL.
In 1974 Lt. Col. Bigoness attended graduate school at Steven F. Austin State University in Texas, where he earned an MBA. The degree led to a teaching assignment at the college