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- 1/1959 Chaumont AB, Libya (F-100)
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Maurice Allen – Caterpillar Club Story
I had the opportunity to “un-ass” an F-100 while returning from Wheelus Air Base, Libya to Chaumount Air Base, France in January, 1959. We had a two-ship flight and were still climbing out on departure when the engine of my plane blew.
Of course, everything was shaking and lots of smoke in the cockpit, but the old “hun” was still holding together. My EGT was pegged but no fire warning light so I shut the engine down and turned back to Wheelus. My rescue would be coming from there and I had not yet been able to pick up Malta on the bird dog. Since we had plenty of altitude, I set up the glide while my wingman called Air Sea Rescue on guard channel. I estimate we were about 100 miles out to sea. As the altitude dwindled and the water loomed closer, I elected to restart the engine to see what I could get. Only 65% on the tach and an acceptable 640 degrees on the EGT. As I got down to 7,000 feet my wingman reported that Air Sea Rescue was on the way out, so I told him to tell them to hurry and rotated the nose and punched out.
I was in the water for about 2 hours and fortunately, a Bug-Smasher (a type of small aircraft that doesn’t fly very high) was returning from Naples and heard my call on Guard. He told my wingman he could cap me all day if needed, so he could return to Wheelus as his fuel was getting low.
There must have been a big smile on my face when I spotted the SA-16 which picked me up-I love those guys!
The Express and News from San Antonio, TX reported the incident in their January 24, 1959 newspaper. It read “United States Air Force Lt. Maurice Allen was picked up uninjured from the Mediterranean Sea Thursday minutes after he parachuted from his F100 Sabre Jet, U.S.A.F. European headquarters announced Friday. A spokesman said Allen, of Hidalgo, Texas, was on a training flight from the Chaumont Base in France when his plane’s jet engine failed. A U.S.A.F. air-rescue plane picked him up almost immediately, the spokesman said.”