On 12/22/65 the Lockheed T-33A #53-5956 was flying as target for a flight of two F-102 fighter interceptors. The mission was conducted in the Big Bear, Twenty-Nine Palms and Needles training areas with the target T-33A at 39,000 feet. After approximately one and a half hours of flight time during which several intercepts were preformed, the T-33A experienced a loud explosion and an immediate loss of thrust. The loss of thrust was of such magnitude the pilot was thrown forward in the cockpit. The first explosion was followed by several seconds of vibrations and audible rumbles which were loud at first decreasing in intensity followed by a second and final explosion. Three airstarts were attempted without success. The pilot ejected from the aircraft successfully at approximately 20,000 feet.
Was asked by Tom Gossett if I wanted to join him on a hike to the T-33A crash site. It was a tough eight hour round trip hike and we only stayed at the T-33A site for 20 minutes wanting to get back to the trucks before dark.