On Apr. 21, 1989, SR-71 #61-7974, better known as Ichiban departed Kadena Air Base (AB) on a mission.
I have written about the tragic crash of the SR-71 #974 before. I have been looking for more information… I ran across the following YouTube video.
At the controls of SR-71 #974 were Pilot Lt. Col Dan House, and RSO Blair Bozek. As #974 accelerated through three times the speed of sound, the left compressor bearing froze, causing the immediate disintegration of the port engine, and resultant explosion from the catastrophic failure sending shrapnel through critical hydraulic lines.
Lt Col House managed to slow #974, and even descend below 10 thousand feet. Both crew ejected safely over the ocean, and were quickly rescued by local fishermen in the waters below.
It just happened to be that a Russian ship was patrolling the area at the exact time of the ejection of the two men. They were in their flight suits and in the ocean when fortunately for them native fisherman pulled up to the airmen and pulled them into their boat.
The fishermen were very excited about their unexpected guest SO… they just had to show the Mayor! With no time to alert Kadena that they were safe… they were whisked off to an impromptu party! After the party at the Mayor’s house they were able to use their radios from a rice patty to confirm that they were safe.
The Russian ship was still prowling around. Search and rescue asked some of the fishermen “Do you know where the jet is?” “Sure,” they replied in perfect English, “We put three sticks in the sand here. We will show them to you the Blackbird’s wreckage is 2 miles out from the sticks.” The SR-71 was found in 120 feet of water.
Thanks to the US Navy assistance the wreckage was subsequently transported to the harbor and transferred to a waiting vessel.
I have a semi-confirmed report from a woman who lives in the Philippines that one of the ejection seats is at the Mayor’s house! What a story, what a party. Unfortunately we lost a valuable SR-71, but both men are safe and that’s what really matters.
Be sure to check out Linda Sheffield Miller (Col Richard (Butch) Sheffield’s daughter, Col. Sheffield was an SR-71 Reconnaissance Systems Officer) Facebook Page Habubrats for awesome Blackbird’s photos and stories.
Photo credit: Tony Landis / U.S. Air Photo and U.S. Navy
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