The death of Korean War Ace Joseph "Mac" McConnell Jr. was indeed a tragedy. Most thought he would die in combat. His aerial combat skills over the Yellow Sea are legendary. He became America's first triple jet ace while flying an F-86 Sabre jet, which he named "Beautious Butch."
On one occasion, his aircraft was shot up so bad, he was forced to eject. He landed safely in the water, where he was later rescued by a helicopter. The next day he was back in the air in a new F-86 named "Beautious Butch II", and continued to rack up the score.
The final tally was sixteen MIGs falling to his superior flying skills and marksmanship. He was then grounded by the Air Force and sent back to the states as a hero. His commander said, "He is much more valuable alive than dead!"
But few aviation history buffs know, that Joseph
McConnell started his military career during World War II, as a B-24
Some would think he had seen enough aviation combat from
a B-24, and would want to keep his feet on the ground from now
But he loved to fly, and soon after World War II was over, he was
for flight training. He became a jet fighter pilot on February
But this story is not a biography of Joseph McConnell Jr. Others can do a much better job of that than I can. Instead, this is the story of what happened that fateful day in August 1954 when his luck finally ran out while testing an F-86H over the desolate Mojave Desert in California. It also tells of the events leading up to his last flight. What the MIGs over Korea couldn't do . . . a forgetful crew chief did!
You can read the full tragic story of how he was
finally knocked out of the skies by faulty maintenance. The new
Wrecks in The Mountains and Deserts of California", (3rd
Edition) by G. Pat Macha and Don
R. Jordan is now available
from the authors, Info Net Publishing, or any book store.