USAF pilot recalls the night’s mission where the terrain-following radar of several F-111 attack aircraft failed to work

FB-111 Pilot recalls when flying at Mach 1.2 at 200 feet during a Red Flag exercise he blew out the windows and a door of a Winnebago type RV that got lost into a restricted area

By Dario Leone
May 24 2023
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‘My crew chief asked if I wanted him to paint a Winnebago sillouette on the fuselage to record my “kill,”’ Brett Kriger, FB-111 pilot.

Note: the featured image of this post shows an F-111F aircraft from the 494th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 48th Tactical Fighter Wing. A picture of an FB-111 flying at low level wasn’t available to illustrate this story.

Originally known as the TFX (Tactical Fighter “X”), the F-111 was conceived to meet a US Air Force requirement for a new tactical fighter-bomber. In 1960 the Department of Defense combined the USAF’s requirement with a Navy need for a new air superiority fighter. The USAF’s F-111A first flew in December 1964, and the first production models were delivered to the USAF in 1967. Meanwhile, the Navy’s F-111B program was canceled. In all, 566 F-111s of all series were built; 159 of them were F-111As. Although the F-111 was unofficially referred to as the Aardvark, it did not receive the name officially until it was retired in 1996.

An interesting feature of the aircraft was its variable-geometry wings. While in the air, the wings could be swept forward for takeoffs, landings or slow speed flight, and swept rearward for high-speed flight. The F-111 could also fly at very low level and hit targets in bad weather.

The FB-111 was a bomber version of the F-111 Fighter, featuring advanced avionics.

Brett Kriger, former FB-111 pilot, recalls on Quora;

F-111F print
This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-111F Aardvark 48th Tactical Fighter Wing, 495th Tactical Fighter Squadron, LN/70-2391, RAF Lakenheath, UK, 1991.

‘I was flying my FB-111 about Mach 1.2 at 200 feet above ground on a combat simulation mission at Red Flag in the Nellis Ranges through a gap in a small mountain range. There happened to be a road running through the same gap. A couple of seconds (about a third of a mile) before I crossed over it, I saw a large Winnebago type RV.

‘I completed my mission and went on with life but got called in to my squadron commander’s office about a month later. It seems that somebody was a little lost and “inadvertently” drove his RV into a restricted area — even though it was clearly marked with a warning of low flying supersonic aircraft. Seems like something they couldn’t see had caused a big boom and blew out several of their windows and a door. When a damage claim was reported the Air Force investigated and found an AWACS track match to my aircraft for the time and date. The Air Force paid the claim of about $5500 even though the RV was where it shouldn’t have been and I was in an authorized supersonic flight area.’

Kriger concludes;

‘The interesting thing to me was that I flew directly at and over him at 200 feet and they didn’t see a thing. My crew chief asked if I wanted him to paint a Winnebago silhouette on the fuselage to record my “kill.”’

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

F-111 Aardvark model
This model is available from AirModels – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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Comments

  1. DougStump says:

    The FB-111A did not have a lengthened airframe or increased fuel capacity. All of the Air Force versions had the same fuselage and internal fuel tanks. I was a Crew Chief on the FB-111A, F-111F, and F-111A.

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