28 February 1941 – The Republic F-84 Thunderjet was an American turbojet fighter-bomber aircraft. Originating as a 1944 United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) proposal for a “day fighter”, the F-84 first flew in 1946. Although it entered service in 1947, the Thunderjet was plagued by so many structural and engine problems that a 1948
Clarke A. Nelson
Flier Takes the Gamble (Pacific Stars & Stripes, Friday, June 2, 1967)
TUY HOA, Vietnam (7AF) — “there was only one chance to save the airplane, so I had to try it,” said 1st Lt. Clarke A. Nelson, 24, of Tucson, Ariz., an F100 Supersabre pilot of the 309th Tactical Fighter Sq. at Tuy Hoa air base.
Nelson recently landed his Super Sabre without power, after intentionally shutting the engine off while still in flight because of a stuck throttle on the aircraft. After an uneventful takeoff from Tuy Hoa he attempted to reduce power and continue his climb. The throttle control moved normally but there was no response from the engine. It remained at full power.
Nelson made several attempts to reduce the power with controls in the cockpit but all proved inadequate. The only success he had was to reduce the engine power by 2 ½ percent. This was accomplished by switching to the emergency fuel system.
With the engine still running at near-maximum, he realized he would not be able to slow the aircraft enough for a safe landing. He then flew over an authorized bomb jettison area and dropped his ordnance. By making several hard turns and maneuvers he was able to slow the aircraft below the maximum gear extension speed of 230 knots, After extending the gear and flaps the increased drag also helped to slow the aircraft.
Nelson maneuvered his Super Sabre to a final approach at Phan Rang air base. At precisely the right moment he turned off the engine master switch, causing his single-engine fighter to flame out. Flight was continued to a near-perfect touchdown. Without normal steering and braking capability, Nelson brought the aircraft to a safe stop on the runway.
(Note: I know that acts of heroism of this sort probably occurred on a daily basis in Vietnam, but this young 24-year-old 1st Lt. Clarke A. Nelson would head the list in my book…if I had one. I searched and searched the archives for more information on him, but the only thing that I could find was a small article about the same event as above in Big Spring (Texas) Herald, Thursday, June 15, 1967, titled “Former Webb Pilot Makes Emergency Gamble, Wins.” This article was on page 14 of section B of the newspaper…it should have been on the front page. The only additional information in the article is that he was a 1965 Webb AFB graduate and the last paragraph reads: Recalling the incident, Lt. Nelson said “There was only one chance to save the airplane and I had to try It.”)
Source: “Happy Valley” Phan Rang AB, Vietnam …keeping the memories alive Phan Rang AB News No. 116 “Stories worth telling”
Page 12 The Phan Rang AB News No. 116 (with spelling errors fixed)