Skip to comments.Pilot survived fall from pitching plane (Aggie)
Posted on 07/31/2005 1:33:11 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
FORT WORTH - On a bone-chilling, miserably windy day in 1952, Capt. Fred C. Seals Jr. fell out of his airplane.
Right out the side of the C-46 Commando.
Four hundred feet above the snow-covered ground in the middle of the Korean War.
Improbably, Seals lived to tell the tale. The story has been retold on Ripley's Believe It or Not, and to this day, old men stop him and ask if it is true.
Seals lived because he fell right back into the plane.
"There's many a time I've thought, 'Why in the Sam Hill am I here?' " he said. "By the grace of God."
The story of this Texas native is so bizarre that only the most gullible listener could ever believe a shred of it. But the amazed crew told their commanders, who told Air Force information officers, who told reporters.
Seals is 83, a retired colonel and wing commander who makes his home in Norman, Okla.
A 1944 graduate of Texas A&M University, he saw three wars from the front row as a B-17 pilot over Germany during World War II, as a recalled pilot for the Korean War and as a cargo pilot flying out of Da Nang during the Vietnam War.
But he will always be known for a mission in March 1952 in South Korea while trying to resupply troops.
The story might have slipped into the recesses of weird history, except for an Air Force veteran who recently donated his newspaper collection to Don Pyeatt, a Fort Worth man who serves as historian of the B-36 Peacemaker Museum group.
"I spent a day scanning them," Pyeatt said. "That article was included on the edge of another one. It caught my eye. What a story."
Seals was at the controls of the C-46 Commando. The wind, howling at 50 mph and dropping the temperature below zero, pitched the twin-engine airplane up and down, back and forth, and kept blowing the supply pallets way off course as the crew threw them out the side of the plane.
The crew got so sick they couldn't keep working. Seals unstrapped his seatbelt, told the co-pilot to take over and went back to do it himself.
"The plane is bouncing 15, 20 feet at a time and fishtailing," Seals said. "I'm trying to hang on. Before the co-pilot could give the green light to drop the cargo, the plane dropped and fishtailed, and it went right out from under me."
Seals remembers two thoughts he had very clearly as he looked below and saw only the ground watch out for the plane's horizontal stabilizer and which way is North Korea.
"Then I'm back in the plane on my hands and knees," he said. "Now I'm disoriented."
To this day, Seals is unsure how long he hung in the air obviously just a few seconds but "long enough for me to orient myself."
He also isn't sure exactly how he ended up back in the plane, except to guess that it dropped and fishtailed again and "scooped me up."
"After the news got out, I got cards and letters from people all over the world, men I'd served with who wondered if I was the same Fred C. Seals," he said.
"Yes, that's me."
This is the plane similar to the one this is supposed to have happened in/on/or about.
Now that's a story!
God Bless his l'il ol' heart. And may the rest of his life be long and uneventful!
Every day since has been a bonus!
He's an Aggie......... figures
Only a Longhorn would figure a way to fly out of an airplane and then finagle himself back in it. It happend to an Aggie on pure happenstance
Amazing story though
While at the station hospital, Naval Air Station, Lemoore, CA in 1964, i changed a leg cast for a Naval Aviator who had survived a fall in the high sierras. his chute didn't open and he landed in the snow and then bounced into a tree trunk which broke his leg. i remember thinking that he must be one of the luckiest people in the world. but then only a few months later, the poor guy was shot down and killed over North Vietnam.
There is another story of a man who survived a fall from a bomber over Germany during WWII. He also landed in a tree. He either had no parachute or it failed to open.
I think I'd be dead from fright before hitting the ground.
It doesn't work like that.
As we used to say, it's only the sudden stop at the end.
The guy over Germany was a Lancaster tail gunner, the
gunner position was so small that they kept their chutes
in the tail of the plane and put them on in emergencies,
when his plane was hit he crawled out of the rear gun
position and went to put his chute on but it had already
been burned, so he just jumped, landed in a snow bank from
16,000 feet, when captured by the germans, (he broke both legs as I remember) they didn't believe him but later found
the remains of the bomber.
His brother might be the Aggie that bought a bunch of septic tanks after the war but couldnt figure out how to fire them.
He landed in a forest. He hit the top of a large fir tree and bounced from branch to branch until hitting the ground...no legs broken...just a lot of cuts and bruises.
figures! ; )
Yeah. . .an Aggie can't even fall out of an airplane.
The freefall site was especially interesting to me because in 1963 I knew a skydiver whose shutes failed at 5,000 feet near the NASA center at Clear Lake. We were expecting him for a backyard bar-b-que and he didn't show up.
His wife called and we went to the hospital the next day. Virtually every bone from his feet through his hips were broken--but he landed in proper form which saved his life--along with the spongy ground.