Photos Of Pilot Ejecting From an F-8D Over the South China Sea in 1965 Became Some Of The Most Famous Crusader Shots Of The Vietnam War

The ejection from an F-8D Crusader as seen from an RF-8 photo bird.

The photos showing a pilot ejecting from a VF-154 F-8D on Oct. 14, 1965 are particularly famous, as it was the first time such a sequence had been captured on film.

On that day, Lt. Jack Terhune, flying F-8D BuNo 147899 (NL 406), was hit during a raid over North Vietnam. Although he managed to return “feet wet” (meaning that the stricken plane reached the Gulf of Tonkin) he could not recover aboard USS Coral Sea. Accompanied by as many as four Crusaders, including an RF-8 flown by Lt. JG Roy A. Zink of VFP-63, the aircraft flew as close as possible to the “boat” until it lost all of its hydraulic fluid. As a result, all of the flight controls, landing gear, hook, flaps etc became unusable, forcing Lt. Terhune to eject.

The sequence was filmed by Zink from the RF-8, using his starboard camera.

Terhune was rescued by a SAR helicopter dispatched from USS Coral Sea.

H/T @clemente3000 for posting the top image on Twitter, bringing this story to my attention. Image credit: U.S. Navy/Wiki. More details on the photo sequence can be found on USS Coral Sea Tribute website.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a 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.