Another Ejection without a parachute.......
My father’s name is Roque A. Garcia-Guillern. He is a retired Colonel of the Peruvian Air Force.
He graduated from the USAF Class 55-N as a 2nd lieutenant in 1955 thanks to the Mayor Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAP) for foreign cadets. He was part of a programme designed to train the first Peruvian Air Force jet fighter pilots. He was stationed at Lakeland AFB in San Antonio, Texas during the first stage of training. Bartow Air Base in Florida and Webb AFB in Texas again for his primary and basic training. Then he was sent to Laughling AFB for 1rst part Gunnery and finally at Nellis AFB for 2nd part gunnery and instruments.
He returned to Peru the same year and was immediately assigned to the 11th Fighter Squadron in Talara; a coastal desert surrounded city 350 miles north of the Peruvian capital, Lima.
On April 10th of 1956, during a routine escort mission, his squadron was scheduled to take off around 5:20 in the afternoon. He was flying a North American Sabre F-86F-25. He was the left wing man on a three-way formation. During take off, he encountered a serious mechanical problem that prevented the plane from taking off. On the first attempt, after gaining the required speed, he felt a sluggish sensation, kind of a heavy nose during take off. After pulling the stick back, the aircraft could not stay airborne and dropped to the ground. He checked the trim set and power and found them normal. After the first failed attempt, he radioed the control tower informing them of the situation and gave his other two companions the go ahead to continue while he tried a couple of more times. While in the struggle, he realized that he had used about 2/3 of the 3,800 feet runway; which incidentally had no crash barrier. The runway was being enlarged to accommodate the modern Sabres at that time. Suddenly, he noticed a worker crossing the runway with a one-wheel handcart full of rocks. When the worker saw the plane coming, he dropped the handcart and fled. By that time, my father decided to abort the mission. . He pulled back the throttle and turned the switches off, and ground looped the aircraft to the left to avoid killing the worker. Smoke and fire were coming out of the tail while the plane was jumping up and down the desert. On the first jump, he tried to control the plane but the nose landing gear broke. On the second jump, he lost the left landing gear causing the plane to start rolling over toward the left wing. Fearing for his life and thinking about the full load of ammo and fuel he was carrying and in a split second decision he made up his mind to eject himself out of that situation. He raised his left armrest and at the same time placed his feet on the footrest securely and the canopy jettisoned. He raised his right armrest and squeezed the ejection trigger feeling the tremendous blow on his butt and body. Which incidentally, caused the plane to go back into horizontal position. Seconds passed and he was going up very fast and when he reached the top of the jump, he heard the automatic harness release engaging and he kicked the non ”Zero Time” type ejection seat and started a free fall. Tumbling with arms and legs extended, he embraced himself in the fetal position becoming a human ball ready for impact and waited till the last moment to try to hit the ground with his feet down. When he touched down (soft sandy type dirt), he bounced once and then tried to stand up and run away from the aircraft already in flames about 50 feet away but he felt down. Each machine gun was loaded with 180 rounds of ammo and the bullets started to explode like firecrackers. He realized that he was not going to be able to get away by himself so he looked around for help and found at a short distance to his left the young man who crossed his path on the runway. He yelled at him asking him to pull him out of the close fire. With the help of the worker, he tried to take the first steps but then realized he had a broken leg and his body gave away and felt to the ground. The fractured bones from his right femur perforated the skin and came out in the upper part of his right leg. By that time, a fire engine reached the accident as well as an ambulance. The fire lasted 3 hours and it consumed the plane completely. The ambulance took him to a city hospital where a 14’’ long wound was cleaned and the bones aligned with a stainless steel plate and then put in a cast from the waist down. After the accident, it was determined that the probable cause of the accident was a misalignment of the variable position empenage. All that remained from the plane was charred pieces of metal. Later, he was sent to Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington DC in November 1956 for specialized medical treatment.
During the ejection procedure, he did not even try to open his parachute since he knew it was an old type model that needed at least 1,000 ft of altitude to open.
He was released from the hospital in 1957 and then continued his rehab until 1958. Presently, he resides in Lima, Peru.