Today in History – May 17, 1968 – Read how J.T. Mattox ejects from F-100D #562949, then catch a film

16 May 1968 Capt. J.T. Mattox “Elect 2” was flying out of Phu Cat AB with the 416th TFS when his F-100D #562949 was hit by gunfire. J.T. ejected and was rescued by an Army Hel0.

It’s Saturday – if you want to catch a movie try Toward the Unknown a little known film which was originally called “Flight Test Center” (and Brink of Hell in its UK release). It’s a 1956 film about the dawn of supersonic flight filmed on location at Edwards Air Force Base. The film stars William Holden, Lloyd Nolan, and Virginia Leith, and features the screen debut of James Garner.

Toward the Unknown was a showcase of the contemporary [at the time] United States Air Force fleet of combat aircraft: Convair C-131 SamaritanConvair F-102 Delta DaggerDouglas B-66 DestroyerLockheed F-94 StarfireMcDonnell F-101 VoodooNorth American F-86 SabreNorth American F-100 Super SabreRepublic F-84F Thunderstreak, and Sikorsky H-19D Chickasaw, shown on the ground and in the air. Unusual stock footage includes a rocket sled being tested, the use of the Boeing YKB-29T Superfortress aerial tanker with an F-100, F-101, and B-66 being fueled, and a Republic EF-84G Thunderjet in a Zero-length launch. Also appearing in background shots were the Beech C-45 ExpeditorBoeing B-47 StratojetConvair B-36 Peacemaker, Douglas C-47 SkytrainLockheed T-33 Shooting StarNorth American B-25 MitchellNorth American B-45 Tornado, and the Republic F-84 Thunderjet.[13] The final aerial sequence is derived from an air show held at the base and depicts the 1955 version of the Thunderbirds air demonstration team, flying Republic F-84F Thunderstreak fighters in a scene described as “special ariobatics”[sic] in the credits.[14]

The Bell X-2, its Boeing EB-50D mother shipDouglas D-558-2 Skyrocket, and Douglas X-3 Stiletto are also featured as the experimental aircraft being tested at Edwards AFB.[13] Footage of the mocked-up Convair XF-92 was used to depict the later F-102 fighter in the opening crash scene while the surviving Martin XB-51 bomber prototype stands in as the fictional “Gilbert XF-120” fighter.[15][N 8](A)

The New York Times on September 28, 1956, review the movie saying “William Holden proves himself to be a man with his feet on the ground and his heart in the wild blue yonder. In “Toward the Unknown,” his first independent production, in which he also stars, he has shown good judgment in allowing the mechanical marvels of our supersonic, stratospheric age a major share of the fine color footage now being exhibited at the Paramount. If his story of test pilots and other experimenters at Edwards Air Force Base in California is slowed now and again by standard romance and military misunderstandings, his dedicated airmen and their strange, sleek, super-powered machines take up the slack in highly interesting and often thrilling style..”(B)

You can rent it on Amazon for $2.99 or at iTunes for $2.99 at

Grab the popcorn!

(A) Source:

(B) Source:


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