Lucky to be Alive

The pilot of the F-15 that crashed is “lucky to be alive,” Air Combat Command boss Gen. John Corley reported. The pilot, in the second round of air combat maneuvers during the mission, was in a turn, pulling between seven and eight Gs. He realized something was wrong and relaxed back pressure, but the airplane was already coming apart, and seconds later, the nose separated from the aircraft, ultimately coming to rest about a half mile from the rest of the airplane. The canopy was ripped off the separated nose and struck the pilot’s left shoulder, causing serious injury. Able to use only his right hand, he ejected from the tumbling nosecone in an inverted attitude. Upon reaching the ground, he elected to remain still until civilian rescuers reached him. The pilot performed well under the circumstances and was in no way responsible for the accident, Corley said. (Video reenactment; caution: large file, will take several minutes to download)