On February 2, 1970, USAF Maj, Gary Foust lost control of his F-106 Delta Dart while on a practice intercept mission. Closing in on his opponent at 40,000 feet, Foust’s aircraft entered a flat spin, leading to the pilot ejecting at 8,000 feet.
Upon the pilot ejecting, the F-106 automatically recovered from the spin, due to the change in balance, and landed itself, gear up, in a wheat field near Big Sandy, Montana. It skidded to a stop, with the engine running at idle until it ran out of fuel. The damage done to the aircraft was so minimal that it was soon returned to service.
The aircraft, now retired, is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.
Developed as an evolution of the F-102 Delta Dagger, the aircraft was originally designated F-102B. Due to the drastic improvements, the aircraft was designated F-106A/B in 1956, also flying for the first time that year. Entering service in 1959, the F-106 was primarily used for all-weather, missile-armed interception in protection of the continental United States. The aircraft carried up to four AIM-4 Falcon air-to-air missiles and either one AIM-26A Falcon (nuclear) missile or one AIR-2 Genie nuclear rocket.
Briefly deployed to South Korea and Germany, the F-106 was considered for service in Vietnam, but was never deployed. The F-106 began to be replaced by the F-15 Eagle in the early 1980’s, with many aircraft moving to Air National Guard units, where it served until 1988. Many retired F-106s were converted into drones, starting in 1986. Several aircraft were also used by NASA until 1998.
An F-106 Delta Dart launches an AIM-4 Falcon missile during the air-to-air exercise William Tell ‘84. The AIM-4 had only 5 confirmed kills in combat, as a direct hit had to be scored for the warhead to detonate. (USAF Photo)
A F-106 Delta Dart from the New Jersey Air National Guard’s 177th Fighter Wing escorts a Russian Tupolev Tu-95 “Bear” off the coast of the United States during an intercept mission in this undated photo. The 177th Fighter Wing routinely scrambled to escort aircraft in the 1980’s.
Feb. 2, 1970, pilot USAF Gary Foust’s F-106 entered an uncontrolled spin and, unable to regain control, he was forced to eject. Much to his surprise following his exist, the plane righted itself, and gently landed in a snowy field, unpiloted. Aside from minor damage due to the landing gear being up, it was in fine condition, and the engine continued to run until it ran out of fuel. After some quick repairs, it reentered service.