...when he shot down an RF-4C plane like this on Sept. 22, 1987
Admiral-to-be Dorsey was flying an F-14 like this...
And you thought McHale’s Navy was cancelled back in 1966. It was one of the most bizarre stories Battleland ever covered. And incredibly, the perpetrator – the young Navy officer who mistakenly shot down a U.S. warplane 25 years ago – is being promoted to the rank of admiral (granted, it was an Air Force plane the Navy pilot shot down, but even so…).
Here’s the top of the story, from the April 18, 1988, front page of the Chicago Tribune:
The war game ended abruptly when the Air Force RF-4C broke sharply to the left and dived threateningly toward the USS Saratoga. Hot on its tail, the pilot aboard the F-14 Tomcat, the Navy’s hottest warplane, sought advice from the aircraft carrier.
“Red and free on your contact,” the Saratoga told him.
The phrase “red and free” stunned the pilot.
“Jesus!” he exclaimed to his back seat radar officer. “Do they want me to shoot this guy?”
“Yeah,” the radarman said. “Shoot!”
The pilot squeezed his trigger.
“I saw the Sidewinder dip low and to the inside of the turn,” he said later. “I saw it hit, probably around the stabilator on the port side, and then a big fireball.”
Moments later, two parachutes opened and safely deposited two bruised Air Force officers into the Mediterranean.