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General Dynamics F-111

The F-111 entered service with the USAF in 1967 as a fast, swing-wing tactical attack and interdictor aircraft. It featured a unique crew escape capsule, whereby instead of the side-by-side crew of two ejecting from the aircraft using conventional individual seats, the entire cockpit section was blown away from the rest of the aircraft and floated to earth using large parachutes.

The aircraft was retired from its final electronic countermeasures role by the USAF in 1998. The Royal Australian Air Force retired theirs in 2010, and buried them instead of scrapping them.

The escape capsule displayed here is from F-111E (68-060) which crashed on 5 November 1975 in the Wainfleet ranges near Boston, Lincolnshire. The aircraft, from the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing at Upper Heyford, was crewed by Pilot Capt James Stieber and WSO Capt Robert Gregory. During low-level flight, a bird penetrated the right windshield causing catastrophic failure to the windshield and canopy glass. The crew ejected and survived, and the aircraft went into the sea with the crew being picked up by helicopters from the 67th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron from RAF Woodbridge.

The 67th ARRS retained the capsule for training purposes, with a helicopter dropping it in some remote area with an electronic beacon inside, and the squadron then scrambling to find and recover it. When it retired from this role in the 1980s it was acquired by the museum.

The F-111 can be found displayed outside.

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