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.
‘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.’
‘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
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