On June 14, 1971, Navy LTJG William Bruce DeGroff was undergoing Fleet Replacement Pilot training in the Ling-Temco-Vought A-7B Corsair II BuNo 154365, attached to the VA-125 at the Lemoore Naval Air Station. The flight was to be a three hour "Sandblower" introducing full system navigation by combining previous experience gained in visual low level navigation with hooded low level radar navigation and weapon delivery. It stresses accurate VFR and radar navigation, timing and weapon delivery. On this flight, Lt Gerardy would follow in another aircraft as Instructor/Chase Pilot.
LTJG DeGroff briefed the chase pilot on his navigation planning. Both discussed the conduct of the flight and special safety precautions indigenous to this flight. Following the brief the pilots manned their aircraft. Pre-flight, start and taxi was normal and the aircraft were airborne at 3:04pm. Upon reaching check point eleven, Gold Point, Nevada, LTJG DeGroff flew approximately seven miles past the check point before turning left to a new course line. He was now well to the right of track. He apparently attempted to intercept the track line but flew through it and was now left of course. The chase pilot gave LTJG DeGroff two successive 20 degree right turns to get the aircraft back on track. Shortly after the second heading call the instructor pilot realized the flight was rapidly closing in on rising terrain. At this time he was 1000 feet abeam LTJG DeGroff's aircraft. He transmitted "Pull it Up" and "Climb, climb, climb", then took evasive action himself. DeGroff's aircraft impacted a steep hillside at approximately 300 KIAS and about 300 feet below the summit, 900 feet above the valley floor. Lt Gerardy didn't see the impact as he turned left to avoid hitting the hill himself but saw the fire ball spread up and over the hill. Lt Gerardy alerted SAR facilities and orbited the crash site until relieved. LTJG William Bruce DeGroff was killed in accident.