Skip to comments.Kenneth Schechter, Survivor Of Blind Landing, Dies At 83
Posted on 01/02/2014 8:08:37 AM PST by KeyLargo
Kenneth Schechter, Survivor Of Blind Landing, Dies At 83
Kenneth Schechter, who died earlier this month in Fairfield, Calif., at age 83, had been just 22 years old when he survived an unusual blind landing in Korea. Schechter was flying an A-1 Skyraider above the Korean coastline on his 27th combat mission, in 1952, when an enemy shell blew the canopy off his airplane and metal fragments struck both of his eyes. "I'm blind! For God's sake, help me!" he cried into his radio. "I'm blind!" He was answered by Lt. j.g. Howard Thayer, who served with him on the aircraft carrier Valley Forge. Thayer flew close beside him, and talked him all the way down, until 45 minutes later Schechter was able to land safely at a dirt airstrip.
"My plane hit the ground, lurched momentarily and skidded to a stop in one piece," Schechter wrote, in 2001. "A perfect landing. No fire. No pain, no strain. The best landing I ever made." Schechter regained sight in his left eye but the right eye was permanently blinded. Schechter wrote (PDF) that he was unwilling to bail out because he'd seen other pilots drown or die of exposure after bailing out into the frigid waters of the Sea of Japan.
(Excerpt) Read more at avweb.com ...
His son, Rob Schechter, tells the Los Angeles Times that Schechter died on Dec. 11 in Fairfield, Calif. He had prostate cancer.
ENS Kenneth A. Schechter being awarded the DFC 40 years late. Presented by VADM Robert J. Spane Aboard USS Constellation (CV-64) September 1995
The Case of the Blind Pilot
By COMDR. HARRY A. BURNS, USN
Stunned and bleeding, Ken
Schechter was alone in his
Skyraider over North Korea. He
couldnt even see, but he flew
back, with the help of a
guardian angel from the Yellow
Devil Squadron. The true story
of a combat miracle.
What a beast. The A-10’s daddy, and another best friend of the grunt.
A flying tank.
CH-53 and Douglas A1E Skyraider CSAR in Vietnam
Beautiful restored A-1s.
View Full Screen.
Douglas Skyraider - The “BIG IRON” Beast of Warbirds !
Awesome video. Thanks.
If you are lucky enough to find a copy of the original A-10 Statement of Work (SOW) you will discover that the A-10’s original mission was to replace the A-1E in Counter Insurgent (COIN) and Search and Rescue (SAR) missions.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s the Air Force wanted to use the A-10 as a funding source for a new fighter platform (the F-22). Luckily they were defeated in this effort as first the A-10 community returned to their roots (SAR/COIN); and second, the Army wanted to keep them for the CAS mission. It seems that the Army didn’t believe that the F-16C/D with just four hard points and a 20mm gun could do the same level of work as an A-10 could.
In fact, urban legend has it that it cost an AF Chief of Staff his job when he told “Storming Norman” he would accept the F-16s and be glad of it.
Landing one of those while blinded was quite a feat. Hats off to Kenneth Schechter.
Carried more ordinance than a B-17. And on ONE engine. Big knock against the AD was it burned almost as much oil as gas.
Marine pilots would pop the huge dive brakes, stand the AD on its nose and rake Chinese and North Koreans with the .50 caliber machine guns - 50 feet off the deck. Some planes came back with telephone wires wrapped around the wings and engine housing. Others crashed because of the mud on the windshield.
Truly a workhorse Flew from 1946 until 1966. The last planes literally fell apart. Air Force even wanted to restart the production line, but cost was prohibitive.
I think a fully loaded Skyraider carried 7,000 lbs of ordinance.And there is such a thing as a plane too fast for ground support.Hard to identify friendlies versus hostiles on the ground at 400mph.The jets were needed as CAP to be sure the A1 could work unmolested.
Story told in Men of the Fighting Lady. Van Johnso plays Thayer and Dewey Martin plays Schechter. Major differences in the movie were that the landing was on the carrier deck and the Fighting Lady was USS Yorktown (CV-10), not USS Valley Forge (CV-45).
Flew the A-10 back in the day, mid-80’s, flew before we had INS, flew in the US and in the UK. Last of the cowboy manly-man jets. All stick and rudder, no magic, just guts and heart and a BIG gun.
“In the late 1980s and early 1990s the Air Force wanted to use the A-10 as a funding source for a new fighter platform (the F-22).”
That is a bit of a legend, not true.
Back in the 90’s the F-22 program was engaged in source selection and first flight was in, I think, 97. Acquisition numbers and budget would have been defined and congressionally approved, and any changes would need extensive staffing and congressional actions.
Funds cannot be shifted from one program to another without reprograming action approved ultimately by congress. So, if the USAF wanted to do that sort of transfer, they would have to obtain internal cooperation from the SAF/AQ and HQ AF/A3/5/8 community, and if that was accomplished (very doubtful), then the package would then be walked through the Joint Staff on its way to DoD for their chop, and if it survived that chop (very doubtful), then it would need congress to approve, and congress would ask the question; “Why?” and easily see the ruse. . .and it would be denied.
Men of the Fighting Lady Original Trailer
I agree about the ‘too fast’ consideration, but can’t take anything away from the Fast FAC boys in Vietnam. Real Men.
Max speed on an AD was 320 mph. With the dive brakes extended, it was not more than 50 mph (according to Marine pilots who flew the missions).
Wow.Puts my trivial problems in a different perspective
Not to take anything away from him, but he wasn't the only one to land blind during the Korean war.
On September 17, 1050, Ensign Edward D Jackson, Jr. blind landed an F9F-2 Panther on the carrier Philippine Sea after flying into steel "booby trap" cables strung across the Han river.
The story is told in the current issue (March 2014) of Aviation History. This is one of their best issues yet!
Thanks for your service. Happy New Year.
Ship shown in the trailer is USS Oriskany (CV-34).
That was my point:the A1 could fly slow enough for the pilot to be sure of delivery on target.Vietnam pilots didn’t have laser guided bombs.
. . . not counting experimental ones.
To the grunts on the ground the SKY RAIDER was an angel of mercy. To the enemy it was the open gate to hell. The SKY RAIDER was down in the dirt with the grunts. Heaven is one angel better today because of that man that flew that wonderful beast of a ground attack aircraft.
In 1969 they were still flying and fighting at NKP Thailand. I think the training base was Hurlburt Field FL.