Today in History – October 21, 1967 – Tony McPeak ejects and lands near crowd at airshow.

21 October 1967 – During a Laughlin AFB, Texas, airshow, USAF Thunderbirds No. 6, a North American F-

100D-20-NA Super Sabre, #55-3520, piloted by Capt. Merrill A. “Tony” McPeak, pulls up to begin a series of vertical rolls.  The wing center box fails at ~6.5 Gs, and the engine catches fire as the center fuel tank ruptures, dumping fuel into the engine bay. McPeak ejects and lands near the crowd.

Merrill "Tony" A. McPeak

Thunderbird 5/6]]>
This crash limited flying on all USAF Super Sabres to 4G. This was the first Thunderbird crash during a performance.

From December 1966 to December 1968, McPeak was assigned as an opposing solo and then lead solo pilot with the Thunderbirds. He performed in nearly 200 air shows in the United States and overseas.

Source:, Portal:Aviation/October 21

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