Page born:April 01 2002

[Have Blue Prototype #1.()]

Aircraft Losses

Have Blue 1001
May 4, 1978
Pilot: Bill Park (LADC)

On May 4, 1978,Lockheed's Bill Park was landing Have Blue 1001 on it's 36th flight when the high-sink-rate tendency of the aircraft caused it tohit the ground hard. The extremely high sweep of the wings and fast approach speed (around 180 mph) meant that either a single-wheel belly landing or asemicontrolled landing on the nose and uneven main gear would have thesame outcome: the plane would tumble sideways down the field, breaking apart, and the pilot would be killed.

Bill Park recounted this before his death in Ben Rich'sbook "Skunk Works":

"Stealth wouldrule the skies. So everyone involved in testing wasimpatient to get test data, but it was my ass on the line if somethingwent wrong. And I wasn't about to risk it by cutting any corner's orrushing into flight tests prematurely.
A helicopter with aparamedic on board was always airborne whenever I was doing test flights.And by May 1978, a year and a half into the program, with about fortyflights under my belt, we were on the verge of graduating into the nextphase and beginning actual testing against radar systems. On the morningof May 4, 1978, Colonel Larry McClain, the base commander, stopped my atbreakfast to say he would be flying chase for me that day and wanted toscrub the paramedic from test flight because he needed him at the baseclinic. I shook my head. I told him, "I'd rather you didn't do that,Colonel. We're not entirely out of the woods yet with Have Blue, and I'djust feel better knowing that a paramedic is standing by if I happened toneed him."
As it turned out, Ihad just saved my own life.
A couple hours laterI was completing a routine flight and coming in for a landing. I came inat 125 knots, but a little high. I was just about to flare and put thenose down when I immediately lost my angle of attack and the airplaneplunged seven feet on one side, slamming into the runway. I was afraidI'd skid off the runway and tear off the landing gear, so I decided to gunthe engines and take off and go around again. I didn't know that the hardlanding had bent my landing gear on the right side. When I took offagain, I automatically raised my landing gear and came around to land.Then I lowered the gear and Colonel McClain, my chase, come on the hornand told me that only the left gear was down.
I triedeverything-all kinds of shakes, rattles, and rolls-to make the right gearcome down. I had no way of knowing it was hopelessly bent. I even camein on one wheel, just kissed down on the left side, hoping the jarringeffect would spring the other gear loose-a hell of a maneuver if I have tosay so-but it proved useless.
By then I wasstarting to think serious thoughts. While I was climbing to about 10,000feet, one of my engines quit. Out of fuel. I radioed, "I'm gonna bailout of here unless anyone has any better idea." Nobody did.
I would've preferredto go a little higher before punching out, but I knew I had to get out ofthere before the other engine flamed out too, because then I had all oftwo seconds before we'd spin out of control.
Ejecting makes a bignoise-like you're right up against a speeding train. There was flame andsmoke as I got propelled out. And everything went black. I was knockedunconscious banging my head against the chair.(Possibly hitting hishead on the headrest when his seat failed to separate)
Colonel McClain sawme dangling lifelessly in the chute and radioed back, "Well, the fat's inthe fire now." I was still out cold when I hit the desert floor face down.It was a windy day and I was dragged on my face about fifty feet in thesand and scrub. But the chopper was right there. The paramedic jumpedout as I was turning blue. My mouth and nose were filled with sand and Iwas asphyxiating. Another minute or two and my wife would've been awidow.(Some reports state that his heart had stopped.)
I wasflown to thehospital. When I came to, my wife and Ben Rich were standing over my bed.Ben had flown her in from Burbank on company jet. I had been forced toBail out four times over fifteen years of flight testing for the SkunkWorks, and I never suffered a scratch.(This includes both a Mach 3.2580,000 feet collision in a SR-71 with a D-21 drone where the SR-71 broke upin flight around him and his launch operator, and an ejection from a SR-71that began to flip on takeoff. His chute opened just as his feet hit the ground, yanking him upward as he was impacting and leaving 3 inch deepheel prints in the sand.) This time I had an awfulheadache and a throbbing pain in my leg, which was in a cast. A brokenleg was not fatal in the test flight business but my pounding headachewas. I had suffered a moderate concussion and that was the end of theline for me. The rules were very strict about the consequences of headinjuries to professional pilots. My test-flying days were over. Bennamed me chief pilot, putting me in charge of administrating our corps oftest pilots.""

The aircraft reportedly came down like a falling leaf, wobbled around, lost control, went inverted, and went straight in. After his recovery, 51 year old Parkswitched to a desk job at Lockheed, where he retired in September 1989, 11 years later as the company's director of flight operations, having never hadthe opportunity to fly the F-117A. Before the first Have Blueflight, he was given a $25,000 bonus for the Have Blue test flights because of the danger involved.

Bill Park wasphilosophical about the loss of the two Have Blue aircraft and theaccident. Yearslater he noted, "We knew we had a problem but we couldn't fix itwithout along delay in the program, and it was vital that we get theinformation. Idon't mean we were going haphazardly. We did (the development) fastwitha minimum amount of money. We wrecked two airplanes, but they wereprototypes and served their purpose....I smile a lot because I am justhappy to be here alive. I believe that circumstances can occur thatyoucannot overcome no matter how good you are." In 1996 (possibly March17)Bill Park passed away from a heart attack.

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