F-4B Phantom - Hinsdale, New York
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member miatabug
N 42° 09.811 W 078° 23.784
17T E 715078 N 4671212
Quick Description: This Phantom saw service aboard the USS Coral Sea during Vietnam. On its final mission it was hit by ground fire causing a fuel line fire. The plane has been on display at the Hinsdale American Legion Post since November 2002.
Location: New York, United States
Date Posted: 5/31/2010 9:14:48 AM
Waymark Code: WM8YGN
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Team GeoDuo
Views: 5

Long Description:
The account below is copied from the website (visit link) . The narrative chronicles the skill of then Lt. Winston Copeland (now retired Vice Admiral Winston Copeland) as he brought his damaged, burning fighter back to the deck of the USS Coral Sea.

On November 11th, 2002, Veterans Day, a Navy F-4B Phantom [USS Coral Sea - VF-51] was dedicated along with a Veteran's Memorial at the Hinsdale American Legion Post. There to dedicate the F-4B phantom jet was the pilot who took it on its last flight in North Vietnam on June 11th, 1972. Rear Admiral Winston Copeland Jr. (retired), United States Navy, currently lives in Lompac, California with his wife, Elizabeth Janine Douglas, and his four children. He and his wife flew across the continent especially for this dedication.

"This plane is a significant part of my life and I am delighted that they (the Legionaires) have preserved it," said Rear Admiral Copeland. The story of the jet's last mission is a glorious and dangerous one. On a Sunday morning over 30 years ago Naval Aviator Copeland and another F4B were assigned to be a MIG cap "blocker" between Fan Hua and the aircraft carrier over 100 miles out to sea.

First, they lost all radio contact; a common occurance during the perils of the Vietnam conflict. Four MIG-17s loomed above them in no time at all. Two were close to the other plane. Copeland and his co-pilot, Captain Don Bouchoux, went behind the lead MIG, fired and took the wings off the enemy aircraft. There was a huge fireball to avoid. The two MIGs on the left took off in seeming retreat.

According to Copeland one never deserts their wingman, so they went back to check on him. Together, the jets headed out to sea, towards the carrier and out of North Vietnam. On the way home their fire light came on, but they hadn't noticed being hit. Regardless, one always has to respect a fire light. "Planes on fire tend to blow up," says Rear Adm. Copeland, " and that can ruin your day." The radio came back on. The other plane came over, saw that they were on fire and quickly retreated to a safe distance.

They shut down the burning engine, yet it was still ablaze. They thought of ejecting, but decided against it, since the dangers in the water included sharks and sea snakes as well as being easy targets for enemy fire.

Captain Bouchoux and Copeland made it back to the carrier, but the carrier refused to let them land. Tradition states that for each kill a pilot does one roll before they land. The plane they were with did two, one for his own and one for them, since they were in a dangerously damaged aircraft. The carrier suggested that both pilots eject to which Copeland responded, "Jeez, we could have ejected yesterday. We want to land this thing!" They went fifteen or twenty miles out to sea and waited until the flames subsided. After the landing they looked under the plane. The aircraft had been hit by groundfire before the dogfight had even begun. The fuel line had been severed and it had welded the F-port sparrow to the fusilage of the plane. Aircraft 149457 never took flight again. It was set aside to be used for spare parts. According to Copeland, "Tales get retold and stories get embellished. But, I assure you, I put my pants on just like you do; one leg at a time."
Type of Aircraft: (make/model): McDonnell Douglas Phantom F4-B

Tail Number: (S/N): 9457

Construction:: original aircraft

Location (park, airport, museum, etc.): Hinsdale American Legion Post

inside / outside: outside

Other Information:: Not listed

Access restrictions: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Photo of aircraft (required - will be interesting to see if the aircraft is ever repainted or progress if being restored)
Photo of serial number (required unless there is not one or it is a replica)
Photo(s) of any artwork on the aircraft (optional but interesting)

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