CDR(ret) Todd A Parker

Tie Club # 1552

“It was a spring day in 1995 about 200 miles SW of Sicily. The USS Theodore Roosevelt was heading up to the Adriatic to enter the Bosnia conflict. As we expected combat, we needed to make sure as many jets as possible were up and ready so the past few days had been a maintenance blitz. We were conducting a post-maintenance check flight on our F-14 Tomcat, which the jet passed with flying colors.

After the flight we were heading back to the carrier, when suddenly the jet began bucking like a bronco – negative 2 Gs followed by 5 Gs, back and forth for about 1 minute, then it suddenly stopped. We couldn’t figure out what was wrong, but another aircraft joined up and noticed a mismatch in our horizontal stabilators. After two more events similar to the first, each time with the jet losing about 5000 feet, the jet suddenly pitched over into a negative 2 G dive and started rolling uncontrollably. I looked at the altimeter and it read 3000 feet so I pulled the handle. After the loud flash and bang, I found myself under the parachute, and looked down just in time to see the jet hit the water – what turned out to be just 4 seconds after we ejected. We were both safely under parachute, with only minor injuries but alive. We were plucked out of the water by helos from the carrier about 45 minutes later. – See more at:

Thanks to Martin-Baker and my Parachute Rigger, I am still alive, and by being able to “live to tell” about our story a major mechanical problem was found. All F-14 Tomcats were subsequently inspected and the same problem was found on dozens of other jets, so Martin-Baker not only saved my life but likely prevented many other aviators from (at best) joining the Tie Club themselves or at worst losing their lives. It was just a month later that a high school friend who heard I was deployed wrote me a letter…We’ve now been married 17 years with two wonderful children.

Thank you Martin-Baker!!”

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