F-84G Thunderjet

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F-84 during the glorious Fifties
Mid-air Collision (Feb 25, 1953):

NOTE:  This started out as a "Mystery Crash Site "for a long time, but was finally identified thanks to Craig Fuller at AAIR, February of 2008.

Instructor and student pilot collided while at a very low airspeed on top of a loop.  Wing of studentís plane collided with tail section of instructorís aircraft. This mishap aircraft belongs to the instructor.

Acro chase ride between student (2/Lt Nicholas C. DeFabrizio) and his instructor (1/Lt Edwin D. Palmgren). After several rolls at 20K feet, student nosed down for loop. At bottom of loop (approx 18K), instructor states he was about ten-ships length behind student and slid right, telling student to tighten his loop.

Near-stalled condition at top of loop, instructor lost sight of student; his tail section was sheared off without him realizing it.  Instructor made repeated spin recovery attempts and tried to eject but centrifugal forces prevented him from reaching ejection handle.  Controls other than aileron were ineffective, instructor managed to eject with great difficulty.  While floating down in parachute, instructor saw a tip tank (probably from his student's aircraft), his tail section, the seat and some other articles floating past him. 

Meanwhile, the student had recovered from his stall at the top of the loop. No indication of a midair, except that his left tip tank was missing, with some small holes in left wing.  Student safely recovered to Luke AFB.


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DPS helicopter landing near the crash site
Thanks to Lee Patterson for telling us about this site:  We received an e-mail from retired DPS detective and ex-U.S. Air Force aircrew survival instructor/flight engineer Lee Patterson.  This wreck had come to his attention about 15 or 20 years ago.  He told us where it was and also wanted to know what happened to this jet fighter.

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Original accident photo
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.50-caliber breech
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Engine
Burned instrument face and "Pull To Cage" dial from Attitude Indicator, F-84 thunderjet, f-84 thunderstreak, Arizona plane crash, fighter jet crash in Arizona, republic jet crash, jet wreckage, luke air force base, Tonopah crash, air force crash, plane crash site, plane crash in the desert
Cockpit Instrument Parts
INTERESTING COMPARISON: Main Gear over a decade after Lee Patterson found it.  We flipped it over, but it's otherwise undisturbed, it even has those smaller geared-wheels laying in front of it on the ground.  It looks like nobody else has been out to this site since Lee visited it, F-84 thunderjet, f-84 thunderstreak, Arizona plane crash, fighter jet crash in Arizona, republic jet crash, jet wreckage, luke air force base, Tonopah crash, air force crash, plane crash site, plane crash in the desert
Interesting Comparison: (Picture One - AFTER): Main Gear over a decade after Lee Patterson found it.
INTERESTING COMPARISON: Main Gear as it looked in 1995, we turned it over but otherwise did not disturb it.  It looks to us like nobody has stumbled across this site since Lee did back in 1995,F-84 thunderjet, f-84 thunderstreak, Arizona plane crash, fighter jet crash in Arizona, republic jet crash, jet wreckage, luke air force base, Tonopah crash, air force crash, plane crash site, plane crash in the desert
Interesting Comparison: (Picture Two - BEFORE): Main Gear as Lee Patterson found it in 1995.
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Crash photo from original report
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Another crash picture
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F-84 refueling
Lee Patterson told us the following:
Regarding the Tonopah (Arizona) fighter crash: basically, the scenario my USAF Life Support friends alluded to indicated it was a USAF F-86 on a cross-country mission from George AFB to Luke AFB sometime in 1951.  The aircraft impacted "Burnt Mountain" near the summit.  The majority of the aircraft came to final rest at the base of the mountain in a wash. The crash location was not discovered until the mid 1970's, when a hunter found an ejection seat and flight helmet in the area of the mountain.  The hunter took the seat & helmet to Luke and notified the military of his discovery.  They responded to the scene, but were allegedly never able to locate the pilot's body.  They pulled the wreckage to a central location adjacent to the base of the mountain and destroyed the remaining wreckage with explosives.
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Accessory Mounting
Engine, a Lee Patterson picture from Nov 18 1995, F-84 thunderjet, f-84 thunderstreak, Arizona plane crash, fighter jet crash in Arizona, republic jet crash, jet wreckage, luke air force base, Tonopah crash, air force crash, plane crash site, plane crash in the desert
Engine picture from 1995
Top-end of left Main Landing Gear with deep wash behind, F-84 thunderjet, f-84 thunderstreak, Arizona plane crash, fighter jet crash in Arizona, republic jet crash, jet wreckage, luke air force base, Tonopah crash, air force crash, plane crash site, plane crash in the desert
Top-end of Main Landing Gear leg
Fan blades on part of shattered turbine wheel, F-84 thunderjet, f-84 thunderstreak, Arizona plane crash, fighter jet crash in Arizona, republic jet crash, jet wreckage, luke air force base, Tonopah crash, air force crash, plane crash site, plane crash in the desert
Fan blades on part of shattered turbine wheel
Cockpit parts, instrument face and bevel, dial, etc, F-84 thunderjet, f-84 thunderstreak, Arizona plane crash, fighter jet crash in Arizona, republic jet crash, jet wreckage, luke air force base, Tonopah crash, air force crash, plane crash site, plane crash in the desert
Shattered cockpit parts
[Sorry for the grainy image.] Lee Patterson has impressive credentials: he is a retired State Police (DPS) Detective and USAF life support expert. Lee was featured in a Smithsonian Air & Space Museum magazine article (January 2000) related to his extensive collection of aviation life support equipment. He continues to be active in DPS/USAF search & rescue training operations at various locations throughout Arizona. We thank him for pointing us towards this crash site that we would have otherwise never found, f-84 thunderjet crash in arizona, fighter jet crash, thunderstreak
Lee Patterson: USAF Life Support Expert
After a violent F-84 crash: What's left of a very beefy bulkhead section, F-84 thunderjet, f-84 thunderstreak, Arizona plane crash, fighter jet crash in Arizona, republic jet crash, jet wreckage, luke air force base, Tonopah crash, air force crash, plane crash site, plane crash in the desert
Bulkhead
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Left-Hand Ammo Chute
Christopher Baird and Tony Mireles: cockpit burn area, impact is just to the right of this picture. [Tony Mireles is the author of the amazing and powerful 3-volume set, "FATAL ARMY AIR FORCES AVIATION ACCIDENTS IN THE UNITED STATES 1941 - 1945" which you can find at this web site: www.warbirdcrash.com, F-84 thunderjet, f-84 thunderstreak, Arizona plane crash, fighter jet crash in Arizona, republic jet crash, jet wreckage, luke air force base, Tonopah crash, air force crash, plane crash site, plane crash in the desert
Cockpit burn area
F-84 thunderjet crash in arizona
Click image for Page Two of our F-84G crash photos