Today in History – September 21, 1956 – Test pilot Tom Attridge shoots himself down in F-11F

21 September 1956 – Grumman company test pilot Tom Attridge shoots himself down in a Grumman F-11F Tiger, BuNo 138260, during a Mach 1.0 20 degree dive from 22,000 feet.

Tom fires two bursts from the fighter’s 20mm cannon during the descent, and as he reaches 7,000 feet (2,100 m) the jet is struck multiple times, including one shell that is ingested by the engine, shredding the compressor blades.

He limps the airframe back towards the Grumman airfield but comes down at almost the same spot where the first prototype impacted on 19 October 1954.

Attridge manages to get clear before jet burns and suffers only minor injuries. An investigation shows that he had overtaken and passed through his own gunfire.

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