“Mayhem” at 500 mph

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Maj. Stephen Stilwell, the Missouri Air National Guard pilot who escaped on Nov. 2 from his disintegrating F-15, the aircraft that started the extended Eagle stand-down, says a routine training flight like he’s flown “a thousand times” turned instantly to “mayhem.” In the midst of a dogfight maneuver, Stilwell’s fighter threw him violently right then left, breaking his left shoulder, as it broke apart in flight. He managed to radio his wingman to break away and pulled the ejection handle with only his right hand because his left was useless. As he descended, he saw his fighter burning below, thankfully in an area clear of houses or vehicles. Doctors had to mend his broken shoulder with a 10-inch metal plate.