22 NOV – Safe Landing for Damaged F-100 – Phan Rang “Happy Valley” NEWS – Issue 229
“My first thought was having to punch out and spend the night in the weeds,” said F-100 Super Sabre Pilot 1st Lt. Christian A. Crooker of the 615th Tactical Fighter [Squadron].
He was referring to the moment, following an airstrike against a suspected Viet Cong antenna site 20 miles southeast of Pleiku, when a fellow F-100 pilot informed him over the intercom that fuel was streaming from his aircraft.
A veteran of 115 combat missions, the 25-year-old native of Flourtown, Pa., stared at his forward fuel gauge and say that it registered ‘empty’.
The young pilot decided to head for Pleiku Air Base, but “I didn’t think I was going to make it.
As the battle-damaged Super Sabre streaked toward Pleiku, “I thought I’d just hang with the aircraft till she quit.”
Instead of attempting a normal landing approach, the 614th TFS flier came in ‘one-third of the way down the runway”, maintaining as steep an approach as possible, so that if the plane’s engine quit he could squeeze the maximum glide out of the F-100.
“I was just thankful that Pleiku was so close,” the combat veteran observed.