F9F FLOWN FROM BOONDOCKS
Jet Ran Out Of Gas Short Of Runway
As Ens. Guy T. Theower of VF-61 dropped into the landing pattern around the battle carrier USS Franklin D. Roosevelt, he flipped the switch to lower the tail hook of his F9F Panther jet fighter. Nothing happened.
After a few tries he made known his plight to flight control. Some quick slip stick calculations showed that the Panther could make it to Nassau, New Providence Island, Bahamas.
On the way, Thrower encountered several buildups and had to skirt them, eating up precious fuel. Soon Oakes Field at Nassau was in sight, and he lowered his gear and flaps. Suddenly the engine died-out of gas. With nothing but boondocks leading to the runway ahead of him, Thrower pulled up the gear and slid to a stop on his belly, 500 yards short of the field.
Soon the wheels of diplomacy were grinding away and a message assigned the salvage job to NAS Jacksonville. LCdr. A. W. Elliott, Chief Mechanic H. E. Smalling, and a salvage crew were flown to Nassau. After a lot of head scratching, some primitive hoisting equipment was rounded up and the plane taken from it's brush-growing-on-coral resting place.
Then came the problem of getting the plane back to Uncle Sugar.
Smalling and Lt. J. F. Todd flew to MCAS Cherry Point. By dint of much measuring, they determined that an F9F fuselage could fit into the spacious hold of an R4Q Fairchild packet. An R4Q was dispatched to Nassau from VMR-252.
There, the tail section and wings were removed from the Panther. A wooden frame was constructed to fit the R4Q's cargo space. With a chain fall, the fuselage was hoisted into the frame at a 42O angle, which permitted it to be contained completely within the cargo space.
The fuselage in one plane and the odds & ends in another plane were flown to NAS Norfolk for overhaul.