On 2 November, 2007, a Missouri Air National Guard Boeing F-15C had just entered a mock dogfight when the pilot felt something was wrong with his aircraft. Seconds later, the Eagle broke in two and the pilot ejected from a tumbling cockpit.

Using HUD camera recordings and other data, the US Air Force has reconstructed the circumstances surrounding the accident, which occurred during routine basic fighter manoeuvre (BFM) training involving four F-15s.

The mishap aircraft, serial number 80-0034 and call sign Mick 2, was engaged in one-on-one air combat manoeuvres with the flight lead. The initial engagement was uneventful.

But, soon after beginning the second engagement, in a nearly level right-hand turn at about 450kt and just under 7.8G, the mishap aircraft began shaking violently from side to side.

The pilot disengaged, calling “Mick 2, knock it off!” while simultaneously rolling wings level and reducing to 1.5G. Within seconds the forward fuselage separated from the rest of the aircraft.

Hearing the “knock it off!” call, the flight lead looked over his shoulder and saw the F-15 in two pieces. He told the mishap pilot to eject, but the pilot did not hear him and was still unaware his aircraft had broken up.

The first sign of trouble, according to the pilot, was a whooshing sound and debris floating in the cockpit. Thinking the aircraft had lost pressurization, he reached for the oxygen regulator only to be slammed forward as the separated cockpit slowed from 450kt with a force of 4-10G.

The flight lead, meanwhile, commanded the other two F-15s to disengage and climb to a safe altitude. He then called: “Mick 2’s aircraft just broke in two.” Only when he saw the parachute open did he know the pilot has escaped the stricken aircraft.

The US Air Force has released a video reconstructing the accident. It includes HUD camera video and cockpit audio recordings recovered from the mishap aircraft. As the engagement begins you can hear the pilot grunting under G strain and the tone of a missile lock. You can also hear the tension in the flight lead’s voice until he sees the parachute open.

The video shows the two F-15s manoeuvring. The window at the top right shows the flight lead’s view of the mishap aircraft as it manoeuvres then breaks up. Along the bottom are dials showing (left to right) angle of attack, G, airspeed, attitude and altitude. And, in the bottom right corner, is the HUD video from the mishap aircraft.

Source: FlightGlobal.com