North Sea Ejection

The North Sea, 22 NOV 1975- Captain Jim Evans (33), pilot and Lt. George Kuprian (29), WSO flying an F-4D Phantom II (66-0256) call sign  “Trest One” were conducting air combat training over the North Sea,  60 to 80 miles east of Great Yarmouth. Nearest…” (Great Yarmouth is a coastal town in Norfolk, east England).  Trest Two was flown by Frank Chuba.  Trest Three was flown by Ed Daniel. The aircraft was assigned to the 492nd TFS (48th TFW), RAF Lakenheath, UK.

Trest One suffered a compressor stall followed by a fire in the right engine.  Prior to ejecting , Captain Evans coordinated with Drayton Center to dispatch a rescue helicopter to the scene from RAF Mildenhall.  He then ordered the remaining flight Trest One and Two to establish a high and low RESCAP.  At this point, Evans headed west to the English coast.  This was when the second engine quit.  When the flight controls seized up, the crew ejected.  The ejections were successful and neither airman suffered injuries.  The remaining flight, Trest Three (Lead) and Trest  Two immediately established a RESCAP over the downed crew and followed them as they entered the water. Both crewmen were seen getting into the life rafts.  The sea conditions were six to nine foot swells with a water temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The survival of Evans and Kuprian, wet and cold in the bitter weather was in serious doubt.

The rescue became complicated when both the rescue helicopter and a UK Coast Guard ship responded.  Ed Daniel coordinated with the helicopter while trying to direct the ship to the survivors with no radio contact with the ship.  All the while working with Trest Two trying to maintain visual contact with the survivors. He also had intermittent radio contact with  Captain Evans who was coordinating his own rescue.


Video by cowlovecow

Evans and Kuprian were both picked up by the British Helicopter. Kuprian never made it to his raft. In fact of the two under arm inflatables,  only one inflated. The chopper accidentally saw him going to pick up Jimmy. Definitely  “Angels on his shoulder”.

Ed Daniel remained on RESCAP until relieved by another flight of F-4’s from RAF Lakenheath.  It was estimated that the RESCAP would be BINGO fuel at 3000 lbs and have to return to base.  Daniel left with 1100 lbs remaining and never made it back to RAF Lakenheath.  After 80 miles, he diverted to a nearby runway.  The aircraft flamed out just after leaving the runway.

I have yet to find the Investagation Board’s report on this mishap.  If you have a copy, please drop it in the comments.

This mishap happened “on the weekend of 22/23 NOV 1975”.  Using my F-4 experience, if there was weekend flying they’d fly on Saturday to give us all of Sunday to fix whatever they, the pilots broke.  Therefore I placed the date of the mishap as 22 NOV 1975.






True Aircraft Write-ups

While serving in Desert Shield/Storm/Stuck (272 days, 23 HRS,24 minutes but I wasn’t counting),   Ken Rankin and I were sitting around one day talking about the stupid and smart ass things we’d seen in the aircraft forms. While stationed at Kunsan AB, South Korea I worked Aero Repair (Heavy Maintenance) on F-4D’s.  I  had two winners:

Problem: Control stick hard to move.

Solution: Suggest pilot visit gym three times a week.



Problem: Nose wheel steering does not engage in flight.

I tracked down a Captain, drunk at the Officers Club to get to the bottom of that one.  There’s a paddle on the F-4 control stick that turns off the Nose Wheel Steering. The pilot told this Captain (the WSO) to write it up. He made his best guess.  Turns out the AUTO PILOT does not engage in flight. Different problem, different shop. The paddle does two things. One on the ground and one in the air.


Anyway… We wrote down the list and I posted it on the Internets in 1998.  Back when I was new at this.  Since then  “The List” has been ascribed to every branch of the U.S. Military, The Delta Maintenance folks in Dallas, American Airlines, NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Quantas.  I’m sure there are others.

Thanks Ken, after all these years, you still have a wicked imagination.
Thanks Ken, after all these years, you still have a wicked imagination.


Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by US Air Force pilots and the replies from the maintenance crews. “Squawks” are problem listings that pilots generally leave for maintenance crews. The solution listed was the way it was signed off.


Problem:”Banging heard behind cockpit.
Sounds like a little man with a hammer.”

Solution:”Took hammer away from little man.”

Problem: “Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.”

Solution: “Almost replaced left inside main tire.”

Problem: “Test flight OK, except autoland very rough.”

Solution: “Autoland not installed on this aircraft.”

Problem #1: “#2 Propeller seeping prop fluid.”

Solution #1: “#2 Propeller seepage normal.”

Problem #2: “#1, #3, and #4 propellers lack normal seepage.”

Problem: “The autopilot doesn’t.”

Solution: “IT DOES NOW.”

Problem: “Something loose in cockpit.”

Solution: “Tightened something in cockpit.”

Problem: “Evidence of hydraulic leak on right main landing gear.”

Solution: “Evidence removed.”

Problem: “DME volume unbelievably loud.”

Solution: “Volume set to more believable level.”

Problem: “Dead bugs on windshield.”
Solution: “Live bugs on order.”

Problem: “Autopilot in altitude hold mode produces a 200 fpm descent.”

Solution: “Cannot reproduce problem on ground.”

Problem: “IFF inoperative in OFF mode.”

Solution: “System ops checked good. IFF inoperative in OFF mode.”

Problem: “Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.”

Solution: “That’s what they’re there for.”

Problem: “Number three engine missing.”

Solution: “Engine found on right wing after brief search.”

Problem: Control stick hard to move.

Solution: Suggest pilot visit gym three times a week.

Problem: IFF failed, 30 minutes into flight.

Solution: IFF removed from aircraft 21 MAR 89 (two weeks ago). Still awaiting parts to fix it.

Problem: Gunnery target failed to stow. Jettisoned target prior to landing.

Solution: Gunnery target destroyed on impact. No further troubleshooting required.

Problem:Nose wheel steering does not engage in flight.

Solution: Could not duplicate discrepancy.

Problem:”Bombs missed target.”

Solution:”Aim better.”