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.
Marty H. Bushnell
From Marty’s USAFA Class of 1964 Bio…
I joined the USAFA class of 1964 after spending three years in college, most of which were at the University of California in Berkeley, California. I was enrolled in the AFROTC with plans to be a fighter pilot when I heard for the first time that there was an AF Academy. I was 21 years old when I entered the Academy’s basic training in June of 1960 and was comfortable with the unofficial title of “the old man.” I was assigned to the 19th Cadet Squadron and stayed with it proudly for my entire four years up to graduation in 1964.
As a new second Lieutenant, I reported to Williams AFB in Phoenix AZ to join Pilot Training Class 66A, which was followed by Combat Crew Training in the F-100 at Luke AFB on the other side of town. Here I met Maryanne, whom I married a year or so later. The first Southeast Asia tour began in Tan Son Nhut AB, Viet Nam, flying the F-100 with the 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron, and finished the final four months at Vung Tau flying the O-1E as a forward air controller… probably the best experience I had that year.
Now a first lieutenant with a new wife, my good fortune was to be assigned to Luke AFB as an F-100 Instructor pilot. During the three years here, I came to know about the USAF Test Pilot School and submitted my application. I was about to turn a major corner in my career. A phone call came in and some staff guy asked me if I wanted to go to the French Test Pilot School. Sounded good to me.
I, a toddler son Marty, and Maryanne moved to France in October 1969, stopping on the way at the Defense Language Institute in Virginia for a nine-month review of conversational and scientific French. We were assigned to the French Flight Test Center in Istres, in the South of France, the first Americans to have this privilege. The collection and variety of aircraft at the school were a pilot’s dream… fighters, including the Mirage, trainers, transports, helicopters, the works. Probably my favorite was the C-45, which had long since departed the USAF inventory. We returned in July 1971 with another child, daughter Kathleen, and I reported to the USAF Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB, CA as an Instructor Pilot flying the F-104 and T-33.
The second Southeast Asia tour was spent with the 17th Wild Weasel Squadron flying F-105’s from Korat Air Base, Thailand, after a checkout at Nellis AFB NV, between October 1973 and November 1974. That was a fast airplane, once you got it in the air. How about final airspeeds of 195 Kts?
We returned to Edwards AFB, on my way now to becoming a career test pilot. It was my good fortune to be assigned to the development test of the new F-15, which I continued at Edwards and at Eglin AFB FL for six years. During this period, I accomplished developmental flight tests which qualified the Eagle’s air-to-air gun, AIM 7F and AIM 9L missiles, air-to-air radar, engines, air refueling, and electronic warfare system. I was honored with the USAF Academy Jabara Airmanship Award for this activity.
In June, 1981, I formed and commanded the F-16XL Test Force at Edwards AFB, for a concentrated test program supporting the USAF need for a new Dual Role Fighter. Ultimately, the Strike Eagle was the AF’s choice. Following this there was a succession of assignments at Edwards while continuing to fly actively as a test pilot in the F-16. Among these were Test Group Commander, Vice Wing Commander, and Vice Commander of the Flight Test Center. I was also blessed with my second daughter, Kiersten.
I retired from active duty in February 1992, having accumulated more than 5000 flying hours and 500 combat missions. Mission accomplished.