Audio Recorded During Incident Captures Struggle to Maintain Control.
An Israeli Air Force two-seat F-15D Baz jet lost its canopy at 30,000 feet during a training exercise last week. The crew recovered the aircraft safely, making an emergency landing at Nevatim Airbase, Israel.
According to the Times of Israel, journalist Juda Ari Gross reported that, “Israel Defense Forces officials praised the pilot and navigator of the aircraft for displaying a ‘calm temperament’ when the top of their plane flew off suddenly last Wednesday, exposing them to frigid air, vicious winds, and deafening noise.”
The Israeli F-15, possibly from the 133rd Training Squadron, the “Knights of the Twin Tail” from Tel Nof Air Base, was participating in a training exercise.
The aircraft’s canopy detached for unknown reasons as the crew reached approximately 30,000 feet. During the incident temperatures outside the aircraft were -45 degrees and the canopy separation resulted in severe momentary turbulence.
The two-man F-15 crew initially intended to eject from the aircraft over the sea but decided to remain with the plane and attempt to land once they descended and regained nominal control.
An Israeli Defense Forces public affairs spokesperson told reporters, “”During a routine training flight, an F-15 fighter jet had to land after its canopy detached. The plane’s crew was in full control throughout the incident, acted with level-headedness, professionalism and great skill in handling the rare malfunction, and landed the plane safely at the Nevatim Air Base.”
In response to last week’s incident, Israeli Air Force Commander Major General Amiakn Norkin has grounded all F-15 flying operations pending the outcome of an investigation into the incident.
The Israeli Defense Forces released audio of communications between the two-man flight crew and ground controllers during the emergency. Dramatic wind noise can be heard in the recording as the crew initially reacts with alarm during the incident, then quickly establish emergency communications and regain control.
The F-15 pilot radioed ground controllers that, “We have no canopy,” declared an emergency and requested priority landing clearance. Nevatim Air Base immediately shifted to emergency flight recovery operations when the aircrew declared an emergency.
Last week’s incident is reminiscent of a 2004 reported incident when an Israeli A-4 Skyhawk lost its canopy and also a well-documented 1983 accident when an Israeli F-15D lost its right wing following an air-to-air collision with an Israeli A-4N Skyhawk over Hahal Tzin in the Negev desert. In a remarkable display of airmanship, the pilots managed to recover the heavily damaged F-15D following the well-known 1983 midair collision.