The weird story of a U.S. jet that recovered from flat spin and made a gentle landing. Unpiloted

An unpiloted aircraft recovers on its own from an uncontrollable flat spin and makes a gentle landing in a cornfield.

In the drones era, this could be an almost normal headline for the news of a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) accident somewhere in the U.S., unless the episode took place about 44 years ago and the aircraft was unmanned because its pilot was forced to eject after the F-106 he was flying had entered an unrecoverable flat spint.

Maj. (Ret.) Gary Foust, was that pilot.

During a training mission from Malmstrom Air Force Base, on Feb. 2, 1970, his F-106 entered an uncontrollable flat spin forcing  him to eject. Unexpectedly, the aircraft recovered on its own and made a gentle belly landing and skidding for a few hundred yards on a field near Big Sandy, Montana, covered by some inches of snow.

The aircraft, that returned to active service after the mishap, can be found at the U.S. Air Force National Museum (that has made the following video with interview to Gary Foust available).

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.

5 Comments

  1. Something similar happened to a Mirage of the Argentina Air Force..
    During ACM it entered in a flat spin and the pilot ejected.
    The aircraft recovered from the spin and did a gentle descent to a field. The contact with the terrain was a bit rough and the plane caught fire.
    As you can see in the picture, it was very close to the F-106 incident, despite the fire of course.

  2. I guess it has something to do with the fact that pilot had ejected, ..I mean aerodynamic profile changed.

  3. I guess it has something to do with the fact that aerodynamic profile has changed once pilot ejected.

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