30 November 1957 – Capt Benny Lacombe is killed when he unsuccessfully attempts to bail out of Lockheed U-2A, 56-6704, Article 371, 13 miles SE of Laughlin AFB. Ejection seats had not yet been fitted to U-2s at this point. The history of the U-2 program is fraught with fatalities and crashes. “CIA pilots Wilburn S.
William Earl Countryman
F-100 was my favorite aircraft! During a test flight at Luke, I had an engine fire at 500kts……pulled “way up”.. light went out,…touched down as it burned through the skin.
F-104 story is worthy: A few F-104’s were fitted out with the J79-GE-19 (more thrust)….it was my job to go to DM, test them and fly them back to Sacramento to have them shipped to Taiwan.
I did not know the history behind this aircraft, that some flights required pressure suits above 50k, etc….THESE PLANES WERE TOTALLY CLEAN…NOT EVEN PYLONS. Well, after my turnout of traffic in a 16 deg. climb, I looked down to see supersonic, corrected that and later at 45k started a high-speed run….it hung up at 1.1 to 1.2, then it was like going into burner again accelerating so fast I got it out of burner at 2.3 mach to avoid the 2.5 canopy thermal limit……a genius design!!
After a little research I found where these a/c were used to simulate getting U-2s at 70k and not by a quick zoom… and it so easy to fly!
After serving in the USAF, Earl Taught College and High School Physics in Florida for 14 years. He sailed the waters of the Gulf Coast in a Newport 30 MK3, and became an Investor, He flew his RV-6 in California (Flies like a jet….great a/c), and later moved to Las Vegas. These days he plays pickleball on his community courts 3+ times per week. Earl says, “What a life….my wife Rita is the greatest!”