Bob Pennell

Tie Club # 1552

“We launched around 1800 hours from El Toro, rendezvoused with our squadron playmate over the Pacific, contacted GCI and began our evening’s work: night VFR intercepts. After a handful of successful runs, the pilot’s control panel showed low oil pressure in the starboard engine, and a fire warning/engine overheat light!

Protocol (since the sump was the low point in the engine lubricating oil system) was to shut down that engine, and head home. We informed our playmate, shut down the starboard engine, terminated our session with GCI, and started back to El Toro with our playmate on our starboard wing. On the way in, the port engine fire warning light came on. Our playmate gave us a quick visual check, saw no evidence of fire, and we pressed on. We called El Toro, declared an emergency, and requested a straight in approach. We went feet dry, and were feeling pretty good about our situation until we blew down the gear and flaps. The F4’s utility hydraulic system which normally did those things was driven off the starboard engine, which we had shut down over the Pacific. Since the pneumatic system was set by McDonnell to blow the flaps FULL down this resulted in bleed air being taken from the port engine for the port and starboard side of the leading and trailing edge flaps. While bleed air is important for lower stall and landing speeds, in this situation it also left us without enough power to stay airborne with full power on one engine, so Bob was going from full power to burner, and back, just to stay on track. About 3 miles from touchdown the nose rose slowly up and to starboard. At about 45* of roll, and with the plane not responding to the controls to level off, Bob politely told Kevin to “Eject Eject!” which he did after telling Bob ”I’m outta here!”. At about 90* of roll (our wingman told Bob later that he and his seat went right across his windshield), Bob left the mother-ship.. The Martin-Baker seats performed flawlessly, the chutes opened and even though it looked to Kevin like Bob was going to land in the plane’s fireball, in fact we both landed safely and without injury on ranch land some distance from the crash site and from each other. After disentangling from our respective parachutes and seat harnesses, and some very loud shouting and several tracer rounds from our service revolvers, we reunited.

A base helicopter arrived within minutes to pick us up. The plane had crashed at 2024 hours. It was a short, happy ride home. Thank You, Martin- Baker (and Switlik Parachutes). We were, and still are, alive and well, thanks to your excellent product..”

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