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HISTORY - ACCOUNTS - Harry Black
F-8 Fam

MCAS El Toro

In April 1958, myself and three other 2nd Lts. were transferred to VMF-251 from VMA-311 at MCAS El Toro. I don't remember all the names.

One was John Kretsinger who subsequently became a Blue Angel. We were only fresh out of the training command and there was some discussion as to whether or not very young pilots should be allowed to fly the Marine Corps prize supersonic aircraft, the Crusader.

Early in May 1958, for no particular reason, I was the first young 2 lt. to fam in the A/C. I took off chased by a pilot from VMF-334 who had received their aircraft earlier then we had.

Climbing through about twenty thousand feet at .94 mach there was a huge noise and the next thing you know, I was coming down in a parachute that had large holes ripped in it because the high speed had blown the chute out before it was supposed to.

The A/C, still in afterburner went down in the Elliot National Forest, just east of Camp Pendelton. I landed on the slope of hill among some cactus and soon there was a helicopter from Santa Ana Lighter that Air overhead.

The instructor pilot climbed down off the landing gear and he came over and cut me out the remains of my chute. The next thing you know, the helicopter stalled and came down practically on our heads. Ultimately the three of us rode back to El Toro in a state trooper's car.

The squadron trained in El Toro and then we took it to Atsugi, Japan. We had a wonderful group of guys and enjoyed our time together very much.