On 10 Aug 1964, my radar pilot (LT. James Martin) and I (CPT John Black) flew a Supersonic F4 Phantom II fighter over the Mojave Desert for a night “scramble” alert exercise. About 20 minutes into the flight, the plane suffered a malfunction and we went into an inverted spin. We both scrambled to find the ejection lever and were able to eject safely. The plane crashed in the Mojave Desert, leaving both of us stranded in the desert. It was two days before we were located and rescued. By that time, the Marines had already notified our families to tell them that we had died in the crash. I can only imagine what our families went through. Luckily, we were both safe and had survived. Several people from nearby Eureka, NV witnessed the crash. They reported seeing a brilliant flash of light in the darkened sky (around 9:30 p.m.) and what appeared to be burning wreckage falling to the ground.
Thanks to the Martin-Baker ejection seat we were able to safely eject and return to our families. More importantly, we could return to what we loved doing — flying planes. I went on to serve in the Marines for 30 years before retiring as a Colonel. Thank you again Martin-Baker for developing such a well-made ejection seat.
COL John W. Black (Ret.) Ejectee #690