Home » USAF F-4 crew members ejected two times from a Phantom II, grounded, and never flew an F-4 again

USAF F-4 crew members ejected two times from a Phantom II, grounded, and never flew an F-4 again

by Till Daisd
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The F-4

Constructed initially as a high-altitude interceptor, the F-4 Phantom II soon proved to be a unique aircraft, setting more than a dozen world records for speed, altitude, and climb time. It was unique because it carried no internal cannon, so the F-4 relied on radar-guided missiles for offense. An individual known as a Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) was needed to use its sophisticated sensors and weaponry.

The aircraft’s first flight took place in 1958 and was first delivered to Navy and Marine Corps squadrons in 1960. It became one of the most frequently used aircraft in aviation history when its performance and versatility eventually drew the attention of not only the US Air Force but also the air forces of 10 other countries.

The F-4 flew with the Air Force Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels and was the premier air superiority fighter for the Navy and Air Force for more than 20 years. Was there anything negative about the legendary F-4 Phantom II, even though its amazing skills are undeniable?

USAF F-4 Phantom II crew members were grounded

David Ecale, who served in the US Air Force, explains on Quora;

‘For F-4 pilots who eject a second time from an F-4, there is a very special punishment:


‘Who gives them this punishment? Their boss? Nope! The Board of Inquiry? Nope! The Flight Surgeon? Yup!

‘You see, ejection from an F-4 permanently compresses your spine. Two times & you’re done! (Note the profile of the WSO [the photo depicts a US Navy Phantom II hence the backseater was called RIO] in this picture. That’s some serious acceleration. You can actually see the compression in action.)

Airman explains why USAF F-4 Crew Members who Ejected two times from a Phantom II were Grounded and Never Flew an F-4 Again

‘WSOs get grounded, too!

‘I was at Luke AFB when the Base Commander ejected. I watched him get wheeled into the Hospital ER on a gurney. … It was his second F-4 bailout.’

By contrast, there was not a two-ejection limit for US Navy Phantom II crews as explains John Chesire, former F-4 and F-14 Tomcat pilot;

‘While the two-ejection limit was true for the Air Force, it was not true for the US Navy. I once knew and flew with a Navy RIO who had five ejections. Only the first four were successful. (Lt. David J. “Goose” Lortscher. His callsign Goose later became the RIO character’s callsign in the movie, Top Gun.)’

Photo by U.S. Navy

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