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.
John C. Harrison
John’s “Stake Your Claim”:
In 1968, John flew the only solo trans Pac with his own “personal” KC-135 from Hicham AFB, Hawaii to McClellan AFB Sacramento. This was in an F-100C which was being returned to the 127th TFS at McConnell AFB in Kansas.
“I was part of the original deployment of the ANG 127th TFS return deployment from Kunsan to McConnell AFB. However, one F-100 C was grounded at Hickam AFB for an engine problem and as the only active duty USAF pilot in the squadron, I was “selected” to stay with the F-100 until a replacement engine was found. This delay turned into a 7-week stay (boondoggle) in Honolulu.
While on this deployment I was technically assigned to the unit that controlled the KC-135s and planned the deployments, but neither the 127th in Kansas nor the Wing I was to return to at Kunsan controlled me…so my wife joined me in Honolulu and we had a wonderful 7-week vacation.
The problem was locating a spare engine which took weeks due to a foul-up in the USAF supply system…and when the engine arrived they had no engine stand for it to mate up to the aircraft…another delay…then when the stand arrived they did not have the necessary adapter brackets to mount the engine to the stand…another delay.
One final note…It was necessary to test fly the F-100 with the new engine and our squadron test pilot sent me the test card to fly which included a full-power run in afterburner on the ground for 10 minutes. I requested a concrete pad to perform the check but they put me on an asphalt ramp to perform the run. It didn’t take long to burn through the asphalt and send chunks of asphalt hundreds of feet down the ramp…I was quickly ordered to shut down and moved to a concrete ramp to complete the test…I’m sure that they were glad to see me go!
As a result of our stay in Hawaii, we learned to love the islands and spend one month every year on Kauai.
Life is good and I believe that the best highlights of my life were my flying the F-100 for TAC in the USAF and my USAF Pilot training.”
After serving in the USAF, John Harrison was hired by Western Airlines, which merged with Delta Airlines in 1986. He retired as 757/767 Captain in August 2002.
John and his wife Susan, now spend their time between Northport, MI, and Sacramento, CA. He is a member of EAA Warbirds of America and served on the Warbird Board for 15 years. He has owned and restored an NAA AT-6A, an NAA T-28B, and an Aero L-39C jet, and still owns and flies his 1957 H- Model Bonanza.
John won Grand Champion Warbird Award (Oshkosh) twice, for the restoration of his AT-6A in 1976, and for his T-28B in 1985.
He started the Warbird FAST formation training program now adopted by the FAA as the standard formation training program for formation flying at airshows in the U.S.