When a Rim country hiker stumbled across some bits and pieces of a plane a few weeks ago, he notified the Federal Aviation Association. From there, it was discovered that the location matched an Air Force fighter jet crash site from December 1966.
The find was just inside the burnt ring of the Five-Mile Fire, a human-caused fire that burned in August, making the minuscule pieces easier to see.
The three- to four-inch pieces, found near the Five-Mile repeater site about two miles north of Strawberry, are from an F-100D Fighter Jet that carried only one pilot, a First Lieutenant Romand. Air Force records don’t list the pilot’s first name, Major Laurent Fox, of the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base, said. He believes the crash was likely due to pilot inexperience.
Fighter jets in the Rim country were a common sight during the days of the Vietnam War.
Pilots used to fly low in Hardscabble Canyon and all over Rim country, said Albert Hunt, a longtime resident and high school sophomore at the time of the crash. His family held the grazing permits near the crash site at that time.
Bones found by the hiker were examined for identification and have been identified as elk. Had they been human, armed forces laboratories would have analyzed the DNA in the bones to determine an identity. Family members of the lost pilot would have been contacted, Fox said. At that point, a sample DNA would be needed from a family member to positively identify the remains.
This supersonic jet was the first production airplane that was capable of flying faster than the speed of sound in level flight. And although the production of this craft ended in 1959, the F-100D was used primarily as a fighter-bomber in ground-support missions such as attacking bridges, road junctions and troop concentrations during the Vietnam War.