However, witnesses said the aircraft touched down hard and bounced high, then it seemed to stall and rolled over on its side and came down steeply, nose first. Aircraft caught the #4 arresting cable, which was set for the wrong aircraft weight. When the fuselage hit the water, the aircraft exploded, killing 14 of 15 on board. The pilot had just finished a test bombing run over Eglin’s Range 52 and lost power in the engine. Cessna T-37 Tweet trainer, flying locally, had rendezvoused with U-2 and two crew could see pilot unconscious in the cockpit.
Poor weather conditions prevented locating the wreckage until the next day. December 19, 1981. Retrieved 5 October 2015. ^ «Daily Chronology: January». Uscg.mil. The missile re-entry vehicle, which contained a W-53 nuclear warhead, was recovered intact. Michael John Murphy, 26, of Biloxi, Miss. and Instructor Pilot 2nd Lt. William David Eberz, 23, of Shohola, Pa. Both crew members were assigned to the 97th Flying Training Squadron of the 82nd Flying Training Wing at Williams Air Force Base Arizona. The pilot was able to get the aircraft to an altitude of about 3,000 feet and a speed of between 285 mph and 345 mph before the engine gave out. Patrick Paris survived with a scratch on his nose, picked up by helicopter later that day.
Airframe repaired for display at 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing headquarters, Beale AFB, California. During the last manoeuvre of the final demonstration flight at Suwon, the aircraft stalled at the top of an erratic vertical climb and dove into the ground from 1,800 feet. Before loading the plate on the external drum, an inline press punch can be activated. The aircraft crashed while on a low-level training flight when it impacted the very steep terrain 800′ below the peak of 7903′ MSL Mazatzal Peak at 495 KIAS under controlled flight in instrument meteorological conditions. Pilot suffered catatonic seizure, and, amazingly, descended to make uncontrolled landing in cow pasture near Oroville, California, even clipping power lines just before touchdown. The Eagle was completely destroyed. «It just burned up», said Beaulieu.