Today in History – April 20, 1979 – 2 F-111F’s at Tain Bombing Range, Scotland, suffer mid-air collision, crews escape.

Tain Airfield – courtest of Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust – used for training by Bomber / Fighter / Maritime patrol / Naval aviation / Trainer

20 April 1979 – Two USAF General Dynamics F-111F’s of the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing, 70-2367, c/n E2-06 / F-06, and 73-0714, c/n E2-90 / F-90, based at RAF Lakenheath, suffer a mid-air collision off the Scottish coast while on a training mission over the Dornoch Firth’s Tain bombing range, all four crew surviving in what was described as a double “miracle” escape. Both crews escape in each plane’s two-seat crew ejection modules. Crew members were Capt. Stephen R. Ruttman, of Norman, Oklahoma, Capt. Timothy A. Schlitt, of Afton, Missouri, Capt. Roger L. Webb, of Staunton, Virginia, and Capt. Joseph Peluso, of Rosedale, New York, all of them 28.

Flotation bags on the Peluso/Schlitt module became partially dislodged soon after landing and the module submerged under several feet of water. The other crew module became inverted immediately after hitting the water and remained inverted on the water’s surface until the arrival of a fishing vessel. At that time the crew activated self-righting bags that partially righted the module. The crew then exited the module and, assisted by an RAF rescue parajumper, climbed aboard the fishing vessel before being hoisted to an RAF rescue helicopter. The fishing vessel arrived in the area of the crew modules approximately 40 minutes after the collision, with the rescue helicopter from RAF Lossiemouth arriving several minutes later. A Nimrod maritime patrol plane monitored from overhead.

All four crew were flown by helicopter to RAF Lossiemouth, 40 miles NE of Inverness and returned to Lakenheath later that day.


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