Among the many things fighter pilots never want to be known for, shooting themselves down while on a mission probably ranks among the highest — though it’s a rare event that has only happened just a handful of times in history, as far as we know.
Thomas Attridge, a Grumman test pilot flying the F11F Tiger supersonic fighter jet, was one such pilot who achieved that one-in-a-million feat in 1956 during a test flight near Grumman’s main facility on Long Island, New York.
Attridge, a former naval aviator and combat veteran of the Pacific Theater of WWII, powered up the Tiger and took off, aiming the aircraft’s nose for a gunnery range a few dozen miles offshore over the Atlantic. Attridge would be firing the jet’s cannons, clearing its magazines, before returning to base.
For an experienced fighter pilot, this would easily be a piece of cake.