On June 23, 1961, the Grumman F9F-8T Cougar BuNo 147380 with the VCP-63 was on the last familiarization flight for LTJG Edward Shokes USNR to qualify him as first pilot in the F9F-8T. With him on this flight was Lt. David Blackwood USN. The aircraft departed Miramar Naval Air Station for the scheduled one and a half hour flight in the local area which was to return to Miramar upon the completion. Shortly after taking off at 8:36am, the pilot checked with the base radio. His transmission consisted of his call sign, Royal Blue 941 and time of take off, no further transmissions were received. When the flight was 43 minutes overdue, an attempt was made to contact the aircraft on base radio and by other squadron aircraft airborne in the area. After no response was received, a search was initiated. The search area consisted of Mexico to the south, Phoenix to the east, Las Vegas and Bakersfield to the north and the coastal waters of southern California to the west. The area was completely searched and all leads were investigated with negative results. Since no further leads were reported, the search was suspended on July 3, 1961. Nearly six months later, on December 17, 1961, aircraft wreckage was spotted from the air by Lt. John Baptiste of the Indio sheriff’s office in the Little San Bernardino Mountains, north of Indio, California. The wreckage turned out to be the missing F9F-8T. The accident investigation concluded that engine failure was the probable cause with the aircraft striking the ground while in an inverted attitude. LTJG Shokes had ejected, but at too low of an altitude for his parachute to open, while Lt. Blackwood remained with the aircraft.