F16 Iraq

By | March 29, 2014

Amazing to listen to a F16 with engine troubles, over Iraq, 1991:


Audio: Benji Ejects, Iraq

On February 17th, 1991, Captain Scott “Spike” Thomas, with the 19th FS and 363rd TFW temporarily based at King Khalid Military City, was flying a night interdiction mission in his F-16C with the codename of “Benji 53”. As the package was coming off of station (egress), his F-16 experience engine problems. Early reports suggested he had been hit by a Surface to Air Missile (SAM), but that has not been confirmed. Thomas’s wingman, 1LT Eric “Neck” Dodson, came to his aid and helped him nurse his plane closer to the Iraq-Saudi Arabia-Kuwait border, nearly 40-60 miles south of their position. Dodson assumed control of most radio communictions bewtween AWACs (Bulldog), leaving Thomas free to fly his injured plane.

With less than 30 miles to go to the border, and his plane leaking what appeared to be fuel, Thomas and his wingman realize his F-16 beginning to develop a catastrophic engine fire. With a valiant effort to get as close as he could, Thomas finally decides to eject over enemy territory. His radio contact is spotty once he is on the ground, but Search and Rescue helicopters (a package of 2 UH-60 Blackhawks and 1 MH-53J Pave Low, along with F-15E’s providing Close Air Support), located his position roughly 2 hours later. The F-15E’s were called in to engage an approaching Iraqi truck with cluster bombs during the extraction.

During debrief, it was realized that an SA-7 Surface to Air Missile (SAM) had been shot at the rescue helicopter in which Thomas was riding, but the missile was out of range and landed short. It was also learned that Thomas had less than 1 hour of freedom, as there were Iraqi troops within 2 miles of him in 2 different directions.


Benji 53 (F-16C Block 25C, Serial 84-1218)
– Pilot: Captain Scott “Spike” Thomas (BEN53)

Benji 31 (F-16C, ?)- Wingman
– Pilot: 1LT Eric “Neck” Dodson (BEN31)

Bulldog (XX)?
– AWACs E-3 Sentry (BULL)


UKN1- “Benji 31, Victor.”
BEN31- “Go ahead.”
UKN1- “Roger ah, you headin’ for Hafr Albatin?” (Emergency divert airfield, Hafr Albatin (OEPA)
BEN54- “Ah, negative. Right now we are going straight towards the border, the closest route. You’ve got the–I’ve got the nearest divert for you, Hafr Albatin for one-thirty-four, is that what you’ve got?”
BEN53- “Yeah I got it, I’m not gonna make it.”
BEN31- “Why not?”
BEN53- “I won’t make it there, I’m ah looking to do a crossing and get out.”
BEN31- “Is there something wrong still?”
BEN53- “This is all I can get man. Neck, I’m gonna go–I’m going less than max range. I guess I should go max endurance.”
BEN31- “What’s your FTIT and, ah, RMP rate?”
BEN53- “Okay, my FTIT rate is 870, RMPs 94, its just not givin’ me any thrust. Oil pressure’s at 40.”
BEN31- “Okay, lemme come back and look at you again, okay?”
BEN53- “Cool.”
BEN31- “Dude, I’m gonna punch my tanks out (interrupted “No we’re good) so I can stay with you, all right?”
BEN53- “Cool.”
BEN31- “Ah, what’s your gas rate at?”
BEN53- “46.”
BULL- “And Five-three, you have some friendlies north four.”
BEN31- “You are leakin’ tons of fluid and it looks like gas, that’s why I am wondering what your gas is.”
BEN53- “Okay.”
BEN31- “It’s all comin’ out right where the hook meets the engine.”
BEN53- “Copy. Okay, how far do I have to go . . . to the border?”
BULL- “Border is 60 miles.”
BEN53- “I might make it Neck.”
BEN31- “Yeah, you will Homer, man, don’t worry.”
BULL- “And Benji, ah, your friendlies are tally with you.”
BEN53- “Copy.”
BEN31- “Is this all the airspeed you can get?”
BEN53- “That’s it man. I can dump the nose, but I really don’t want to. I wanna keep this wing goin’ for me.”
BEN31- “Yeah.”
BULL- “Five-three, ah, confirm you’re a single-ship?”
BEN53- “Negative. I’ve got a wingman here.”
BULL- “Roge.”
BEN31- “Ya know Spikey, if you need some more lift, you might want to throw your flaps down.”
BULL- “Five-three, border is, ah, 55 miles.”
BEN53- “Copy. Think I’ll hang out for a little while, Neck.”
BEN53- “Okay.”
BULL- “Roge.”
BEN31- “Say distance to border, Bu-Bulldog.”
BULL- “Border 54.”
BEN31- “Understand you’ve got, ah, choppers in the air?”
BULL- “Benji, you want choppers?”
BEN31- “That’s affirm (?). You guys better scramble them now!”
BULL- “Roge.”
BEN31- “Vector ’em to where we’re gonna be.”
UKN1- “(?) Five-one, did you copy that?”
BEN31- How you doin’ Homer?”
BEN53- “Hangin’ in man.”
BEN31- “Cool. I’m with you all the way.”
UKN- “Roger, did copy.”
BEN53- “I’m gonna try the flaps (interrupted).”
BULL- “Benji, border 50.”
BEN31- “Copy 50. Bulldog, Benji.”
BULL- “Benji, go ahead.”
BEN31- “Copy, understand that ah, this border area is pretty clear with threats?”
BULL- “That’s affirm, I’ll check for ya.”
BEN31- “Check please.”
BEN53- “Flaps up a little bit Homie.”
BEN31- “Cool.”
BEN53- “That and my AOA is down a little bit.”
BULL- “And Five-three, we’re checkin’ for ya.”
BEN53- “Okay.”
UKN1- “Benji 41.” Did he mean Benji 31? UKN1 is the same pilot from the beginning of recording.
BEN31- “Go.”
UKN1- “Anything we can do to help?”
BEN31- “Say again?”
UKN1- “Anything I can do to help?”
BEN31- “Ah, you might wanna get on a tanker, get some gas and be able to, ah, help with SAR.”
UKN1- “Okay.”
BULL- “Five-three, border 44.”
BEN31- “Eight staff (?), left ten.”
– “Benji 1, Benji 2 Victor.”
BULL- “Benji Five-three, if you could squawk emergency please.”
BEN31- “Do you got that Spike or do you want me to do it?”
BEN53- “Yeah, I got it. I dunno if that’s such a good idea, is it?”
BEN31- “I dunno. Bulldog, Benji, is that a good idea right where we’re at?”
BULL- “That’s what I was instructed, ah, I’d say no, I’ve got a good contact with you.”
BEN31- “Okay, good, keep that contact. Do you got choppers in the air?”
BULL- “Affirm, they are on their way.”
BEN31- “Copy that.”
BEN53- “Bummer dudes.”
BEN31- “Wh-What’s goin’ on man?”
BEN53- “Just bummer.”
BEN31- “Okay, now you’ve got fire comin’ out of your engine. Looks like it’s fallin’.”
BEN53- “What’s fallin’?”
BEN31- “Well, it looks like you’ve got sparks and shit comin’ out of your engine now.”
BEN53- “Okay. Bulldog.”
BULL- “Go ahead.”
BEN53- “Okay, I-I’m havin’ a more serious problem now, okay?”
BULL- “Roge.”
BEN31- “Understand, choppers are in the air?”
BULL- “That’s affirm. Border 40.”
BEN31- “Neck, you tell me if you see any fire.”
BEN31- “Okay, it’s red sparks poppin’ out right now.”
BEN53- “Okay, just tell me if you see a fire.”
BEN31- “Okay. Stay with it dude.”
{Fire Begins}
BEN31- Okay, you’re-”
BEN53- “I-I’m gettin’ out!”
BEN31- “Okay, you’re on fire.”
{Ejection seat}
BEN31- “Okay, Bulldog, we’ve got him out, we’ve got him out! He’s out of the –”
{Unknown Horn} Possibly stall horn, or engine-out horn in Benji 53 cockpit (plane is now gliding pilotless, did not explode)
BEN31- “Bulldog, we have a good chute. Bulldog, Benji, do you copy?”
BULL- “I copy, marked.”
{Sound of rushing wind, still recording inside Benji 53?}

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