Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

The Ground Hogging Thud

by Jim VerStreate

My first theater orientation flight in the F-105F at Korat RTAFB was an eye opener! It was a two-ship formation with staggered take offs due to our asymmetrical wing loading. It was a typical 95° F humid day in March, which taxed the Thud with a long roll to lift off. Even though Korat had a 12,000 foot runway, water injection was always used to provide an additional 2,000 pounds of thrust for take off.

Lead released brakes, lit the afterburner, and started rolling. As I approached my time for brake release, I noted that lead had not yet lifted off the runway, so I delayed. He disappeared into the dip in elevation that we had in the last 1,000 feet of runway and finally rose in a cloud of dust. I took off and joined on him. Shortly after that we received a radio call from the tower, telling us to check the lead aircraft for damage because he had caught the departure end barrier cable and sliced it in two! I looked him over and noted a slight dent in the lower part of the right landing gear door. He hadn’t felt a thing in the aircraft and the Thud didn’t flince! We continued and completed the flight.

On debrief I learned that the water injection had malfunctioned, which is reason for an abort, which he obviously had not done! That experience taught me the value of the water injection and to not treat it casually in those weather conditions! Luckily, I never had that situation occur during the rest of my tour.
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