Monday, February 8, 2010

A cold war story, 58-0787 - The "Cornfield Bomber"

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV's) may be all the rage today, but during the early days of the cold war, a plane, especially a jet fighter, that landed itself without a pilot was definitely an unexpected event.

In 1970, during a training flight in an F-106 out of Malmstrom AFB in Montana an aircraft and pilot got themselves into a flat spin. During his unsuccessful attempts to break the spin, the pilot lowered half flaps, rolled in takeoff trim and throttled the engine back to an approach power setting.

Since a flat spin in an F-106, was generally considered to be non-recoverable, the pilot then did the next thing the flight handbook said to do -- get out of it, i.e., eject. After the pilot did just that, aircraft 58-0787 recovered by itself and established a wings level low rate of descent

When the local Sheriff arrived on the scene above, he found an aircraft with no pilot sitting on the ground in a snow covered corn field, with the engine still running.

Despite some damage to the bottom of the fuselage, the aircraft was recovered and returned to active service, albeit with a new but inglorious nickname, the "Corn Field Bomber". In 1986, when the aircraft was retired, it was placed on permanent display at the National Museum of the Air Force at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton Ohio.

Hat's off from the Cold War Air Museum to this spirited survivor!


  1. Great story , I remember it well, I was a Cold War Warrior, after returning from Vietnam in 1970 I went to work on the F-106, 83rd FIS Loring AFB, Maine. Will link your blog to my blog, Props Pistons and old Jets.


  2. Hey there,

    Coal region native here completing a novel about the Six. Send ur email address and will let you know when published...with 3-5 months