7:16 | It was the first large scale B-52 strike over North Vietnam and F-4 Pilot Carl Scheidegg was flying one of the hundreds of planes assembling in the night sky. There were terrific storms and little visibility as he searched for the tanker at the rendezvous. Suddenly it appeared out of the clouds coming straight for him on a collision course.
Keywords : Carl Scheidegg pilot McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom Vietnam Boeing B-52 Stratofortress Haiphong MiG surface-to-air missile (SAM) anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) chaff weather tanker Da Nang storm radar jet wash
Carl Scheidegg had his pilot's license by the time he was seventeen years old, so Air Force ROTC was a good fit for him. Yes, there was a war going on, but it was supposed to be over by the time he graduated. He got the plane he wanted, the F-4 Phantom, and deployed to Korea, but guess what? That war wasn't over.
When his fighter squadron got to Vietnam, the pilots were split up for assignments with other units. F-4 pilot Carl Scheidegg started flying out of Da Nang. He wasn't supposed to fly over North Vietnam until he had ten missions behind him, but he did anyway and it was that flight that discovered newly deployed SAMs.
There was a major in his back seat because they would often fly with junior officers just arrived in theater. F-4 Pilot Carl Scheidegg had surface-to-air missiles heading towards him and he immediately began evasive maneuvers. Then he saw the big orange cloud behind him.
Roger Locher was a downed airman who was evading capture just miles from Hanoi. Vast resources were poured into the rescue and for Carl Scheidegg, it was the first time he would face enemy MiGs in his F-4. Despite the location, however, there was no dogfight.
F-4 pilot Carl Scheidegg was flying a mission near Hue when he looked down and saw three dust clouds erupt on the ground. With a sinking feeling, he looked up at a B-52 flight above him. He was between them and the target.
His tour of duty was a real tour. F-4 pilot Carl Scheidegg spent time at many different air bases in Vietnam and Thailand. When he had a chance to go to China Beach and saw the perfect sand, he had a vision of the future. The Vietnamese had a lovely country and he will never forget the civilian he met who told him what the people in the South were fighting for.
"Three MiGs...left...ten o'clock...slightly high." Anytime you saw any potential opposition in the air, you told the rest of the flight and that's just what F-4 pilot Carl Scheidegg did. It went well until the cockpit recording was played back for his buddies.
Sometimes missions were led by a LORAN-equipped F-4 to enable a 4-ship flight to drop on a target when bad weather prevented visual bombing. During one such flight over North Vietnam, Carl Scheidegg caught sight of the target through the clouds and rolled in to hit it.
You weren't supposed to fly over the North during the last two weeks of your tour, but F-4 pilot Carl Scheidegg made sure he got to participate in Linebacker, the massive carpet bombing operation over North Vietnam. He laid the chaff corridor for the B-52's and it was a good final mission.
When Carl Scheidegg returned from Vietnam, he had a short list of things he wanted, including real milk and a green salad. His family saved the Christmas decorations for his January return and he had no problems with protestors, including his best friend who was one.
F-4 pilot Carl Scheidegg pays tribute to his crew chief and ground crew, who were targeted by rocket and mortar fire while he was flying. He remembers one time when he was on the ground in the middle of one of these barrages.
Carl Scheidegg would watch the MiGs take off at Yen Bai, but he wasn't allowed to attack the base. He had to wait until they came up and challenged him. This was just one of the frustrating things about Vietnam on his mind, including the fact that we had them beat before we walked away.