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F-104G - Lk Havasu

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F-104G Starfighter


F-104G s/n 63-13268, F-104G crashed 2-3 miles east of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, Luftwaffe pilot TSgt Claus Hoeffken, Starfighter crash, fight jet crash in Arizona, Arizona plane crash, jet wreck, airplane wreck, wreck debris, F-104 crash
Actual plane
F-104G s/n 63-13268
On May 22, 1969 this F-104G crashed 2-3 miles east of Lake Havasu City, Arizona in desert mountain foothills killing Luftwaffe pilot TSgt Claus Hoeffken (that is, StUffz Claus Höffgen) on his first solo flight.
Sgt Hoeffken was assigned Starfighter serial number 63-13268 on his first transition (initial solo flight) from the two-place TF-104G to the F-104G single-seat fighter.  Flying as call sign “Survey Lead”, he and his USAF Instructor Pilot (IP) Captain Gerald Friedman proceeded to training area number 3 northwest of Luke at 15,000 feet that afternoon.  IP Capt. Friedman (“Survey Chase”) was following Hoeffken in a loose route formation with both aircraft carrying two 170-gallon tiptanks and full internal fuel (gross weight of the aircraft were 23,450 lbs each).
Sgt Hoeffken flew several routine flight maneuvers including a series of shallow or lazy turns, with the IP flying in loose formation, until his tiptanks were dry.  The student (Hoeffken) then transmitted “Survey, barrel roll…to the left,” from about 6,000 feet.
Near the completion of the barrel roll with wings nearly level and in a slight dive (nose about 20 degrees down), the student’s aircraft pitched down abruptly, then continued to buck or porpoise (“as if successive applications of kicker were being experienced,” as the IP stated) (the F-104 had an automatic stick “kicker” that told the pilot the aircraft was at or near stall condition…the stick would start shaking or kicking).
The IP called for the student to ease off on his pull-out and put down take-off or maneuvering flaps.  The amount of porpoising appeared to lessen, however the Starfighter was still in a shallow dive.  Captain Friedman (the IP) then observed the shadow of the student’s aircraft nearly parallel (to the ground) indicating the aircraft was nearly in level flight.
The aircraft impacted on slightly rising and rough terrain.  There were no radio transmissions after the IP told him to “ease up” and “flaps”.  At this point the IP (who was in staggered trail formation) noted his own airspeed at 420 knots and altitude of 3,500 feet MSL. 
Terrain elevation at the crash site was 1,440 feet.  Wreckage was scattered over a ½ mile.  The aircraft hit on Horizon Road in what was at that time a new subdivision with no houses built very close by.  Witnesses said there was a flash and black smoke, but no fire afterwards.
TSgt Claus Hoeffken had lost control after a barrel roll on his first solo in the unforgiving F-104G Starfighter and was killed instantly with no apparent attempt to eject.  He was fighting to recover the airplane to the last second.

F-104G s/n 63-13268, F-104G crashed 2-3 miles east of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, Luftwaffe pilot TSgt Claus Hoeffken, Starfighter crash, fight jet crash in Arizona, Arizona plane crash, jet wreck, airplane wreck, wreck debris, F-104 crash
Attitude Indicator
F-104G s/n 63-13268, F-104G crashed 2-3 miles east of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, Luftwaffe pilot TSgt Claus Hoeffken, Starfighter crash, fight jet crash in Arizona, Arizona plane crash, jet wreck, airplane wreck, wreck debris, F-104 crash
A very heavy piece
F-104G s/n 63-13268, F-104G crashed 2-3 miles east of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, Luftwaffe pilot TSgt Claus Hoeffken, Starfighter crash, fight jet crash in Arizona, Arizona plane crash, jet wreck, airplane wreck, wreck debris, F-104 crash
Newspaper account of the accident
F-104G s/n 63-13268, F-104G crashed 2-3 miles east of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, Luftwaffe pilot TSgt Claus Hoeffken, Starfighter crash, fight jet crash in Arizona, Arizona plane crash, jet wreck, airplane wreck, wreck debris, F-104 crash
Unknown component in the wash
F-104G s/n 63-13268, F-104G crashed 2-3 miles east of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, Luftwaffe pilot TSgt Claus Hoeffken, Starfighter crash, fight jet crash in Arizona, Arizona plane crash, jet wreck, airplane wreck, wreck debris, F-104 crash
Original crash photo
F-104G s/n 63-13268, F-104G crashed 2-3 miles east of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, Luftwaffe pilot TSgt Claus Hoeffken, Starfighter crash, fight jet crash in Arizona, Arizona plane crash, jet wreck, airplane wreck, wreck debris, F-104 crash, Thanks to Theo Stoelinga for identifying this heavy part from the F-104 crash site.  It’s a gear door selector valve or a gear selector valve, located in the wheel well of the Starfighter.
Very heavy part - gear/gear door selector valve
F-104G s/n 63-13268, F-104G crashed 2-3 miles east of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, Luftwaffe pilot TSgt Claus Hoeffken, Starfighter crash, fight jet crash in Arizona, Arizona plane crash, jet wreck, airplane wreck, wreck debris, F-104 crash, A gear door selector valve or a gear selector valve, located in the wheel well of the Starfighter.
Same part, different angle
F-104G s/n 63-13268, F-104G crashed 2-3 miles east of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, Luftwaffe pilot TSgt Claus Hoeffken, Starfighter crash, fight jet crash in Arizona, Arizona plane crash, jet wreck, airplane wreck, wreck debris, F-104 crash
USAF Accident/Incident Report

The Hunt For 268
We located the subdivision roads (as noted in the USAF Accident Report) to this crash site immediately and determined that the majority of the impact site and initial debris field were built over by houses.  It crashed in the middle of Horizon Road, which is now paved with ranch-style houses on either side, at the time it was a dirt road (see the crash photo from the report).
We then set off into the undeveloped desert to locate wreckage.  The area at the edge of the subdivision and crash site is very rugged with deep, rocky ravines and washes at the foot of very high desert mountains.  It is ringed with ATV paths and trash, and appears to be a heavy drainage area off the mountains.
We started finding wreckage within an hour in the washes.  Mostly medium-sized engine parts and “plumbing” from the hydraulics etc.  We also found a large heavy part that weighed 10-12 pounds (later identified as a trailing edge flap actuator).  Also turbine wheel fan blades.
One of the last things we found was the almost intact F-104G’s Altitude Indicator, which was in the top center of the pilot’s dashboard.  Only the front glass, bevel, and sphere were damaged, and we could still read the words CLIMB on the sphere.
This find was a strong indication that the pilot had pulled the aircraft level and more probably nose up before it impacted, otherwise this instrument would’ve been obliterated.
Stuffz Höffgen had almost pulled out of his predicament but just ran out of air, and he may have been staring at this very instrument at the moment of impact.
We never did find any significant debris trails so there is more work to be done on this crash site.  An ATV or Quad would be of great aid in this sort of terrain.  We believe that much of the debris has been covered over by regular weather runoff in the washes.  Only large, heavy parts were found.
We think a significant debris trail running North or Northwest of Horizon Road is still there and we missed it…all we found was scattered debris in the first series of washes away from the subdivision, but we ran out of time to find the primary spread of wreckage as the wings, engine, cockpit and fuselage tumbled across this very jagged terrain for over a half-mile on the lava-rock flats above the cliff-sided ravines.
Höffgen’s Starfighter needs more legwork and a proper memorial.


F-104G s/n 63-13268, F-104G crashed 2-3 miles east of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, Luftwaffe pilot TSgt Claus Hoeffken, Starfighter crash, fight jet crash in Arizona, Arizona plane crash, jet wreck, airplane wreck, wreck debris, F-104 crash
Original Crash Report - History of Flight
F-104G s/n 63-13268, F-104G crashed 2-3 miles east of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, Luftwaffe pilot TSgt Claus Hoeffken, Starfighter crash, fight jet crash in Arizona, Arizona plane crash, jet wreck, airplane wreck, wreck debris, F-104 crash
Starfighter skin
F-104G s/n 63-13268, F-104G crashed 2-3 miles east of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, Luftwaffe pilot TSgt Claus Hoeffken, Starfighter crash, fight jet crash in Arizona, Arizona plane crash, jet wreck, airplane wreck, wreck debris, F-104 crash
Crash Diagram
F-104G s/n 63-13268, F-104G crashed 2-3 miles east of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, Luftwaffe pilot TSgt Claus Hoeffken, Starfighter crash, fight jet crash in Arizona, Arizona plane crash, jet wreck, airplane wreck, wreck debris, F-104 crash
Crash report map
F-104G s/n 63-13268, F-104G crashed 2-3 miles east of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, Luftwaffe pilot TSgt Claus Hoeffken, Starfighter crash, fight jet crash in Arizona, Arizona plane crash, jet wreck, airplane wreck, wreck debris, F-104 crash
We kept finding parts
F-104G s/n 63-13268, F-104G crashed 2-3 miles east of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, Luftwaffe pilot TSgt Claus Hoeffken, Starfighter crash, fight jet crash in Arizona, Arizona plane crash, jet wreck, airplane wreck, wreck debris, F-104 crash
This was the biggest part we found.
F-104 starfighter crash, This is a trailing-edge actuator (flap actuation system part).  Thanks to Hubert  Peitzmeier.63-13268 Photo courtesy of Hubert Peitzmeier, F-104G - Lk Havasu - crash report
Trailing edge flap actuator
F-104G s/n 63-13268, F-104G crashed 2-3 miles east of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, Luftwaffe pilot TSgt Claus Hoeffken, Starfighter crash, fight jet crash in Arizona, Arizona plane crash, jet wreck, airplane wreck, wreck debris, F-104 crash
Another picture of the Attitude Indicator
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