The Cornfield Bomber. One Of Montana’s Craziest Stories Ever
One of the most unique Montana stories has to be the "Cornfield Bomber". The day an F-106 Delta Dart fighter jet decided to have a mind of its own.
53 years ago on February 2nd, 1970, Major (retired) Gary Foust would go down in not only the Montana history books but the fighter pilot books as well.
On that day Major Foust was teamed up with two other pilots to fly a two-on-two maneuvering and training mission out of Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Montana. At the last minute, one of the jets malfunctioned and the mission quickly became a two-on-one training session. Maybe this should have been an omen to abort the mission altogether.
During a very high-speed, intense part of the training mission, Major Foust's fighter jet malfunctioned and went into an unrecoverable spin:
I was doing 1.9 Mach when we passed. I took them straight up at about 38,000 feet. We got into a vertical rolling scissors. I gave [Gary] a high-G rudder reversal. He tried to stay with me - that’s when he lost it. He got into a post-stall gyration… a very violent maneuver. His recovery attempt was unsuccessful and the aircraft stalled and went into a flat spin, which is usually unrecoverable. -Captian Tom Curtis/ (https://www.f-106deltadart.com)
Major Foust quickly realized after going through all the procedures to right the spin, that he was in trouble. At around 8000 feet he bailed from the aircraft only to see moments later during his descent that the jet had gone completely nose down and adjusted itself and flew away.
The aircraft eventually descended and landed in a wheat field in the nearby town of Big Sandy, Montana. With the snow on the ground, the flight crew could see that it had skidded on its belly a few hundred feet and came to a complete stop. The jet eventually ran out of fuel as it sat in the field idling. The damage was very minimal other than some dents and scrapes.
Nine years later Major Foust was on another training mission, this time at Griffiss AFB in New York. At this point, the aircraft was repaired and returned to service. With Foust's luck, of course, the jet would also be at the same mission center. One of his former pilots was now a commander at the base and made sure Foust was able to once again fly the same jet that he once bailed out of.
The F-106 Delta is decommissioned and now sits in a military museum. You have to see this great interview with Major Foust talking about his insane, one-in-a-million experience below.