The top-scoring ace of the Korean War was Capt. Joseph McConnell, Jr. After being sent home, in 1954, he arrived at Edwards AFB to evaluate a new F-86H. During the flight, the aircraft suffered a complete hydraulic failure caused by a missing bolt. McConnell had to fly the plane using the elevator trim. Rather than bailing out and losing the airplane, he tried to fly it back to a landing at Edwards. Several miles short of the lakebed, the attempt failed. McConnell bailed out, but he was too low for his parachute to open. The story of his life is depicted in the 1955 film, The McConnell Story.
The death of Korean War Ace Joseph "Mac" McConnell Jr. was indeed a tragedy. His combat skills over Korea and the Yellow Sea were legendary. He became America's first triple jet ace while flying an F-86F Sabre, tail no. 51-12971, which he named "Beautious Butch," (so named after his wife).
On April 12, 1953, he shot down his eighth MiG, but in the process was shot down himself! After a successful bailout in the ocean, he was rescued by a H-19 helicopter from the U.S. base at K-16 in Korea. The very next day, he retook to the skies , this time in a shiny-new Sabre. named "Beautious Butch II", resulting in a total of 16 confirmed kills.
Upon achieving these aerial victories, he was then pulled from flight status. The commander of the Far East Air Force, General Glenn O. Barcus, did not want to risk his top ace to any further risk, and was reported to have said, "I want that man on his way back home to the U.S.A. before you hear the period at the end of this sentence." Returning to the States as a hero, he was reassigned to test flight duties at Edwards AFB. Living in the town of Apple Valley, the citizens of that community built a house (known as the "Appreciation House") for him and his family.
On August 25, 1954, his luck finally ran out when the F-86H, tail no. 52-1981, he was flying crashed in the desolate Mojave Desert, north of Edwards AFB in California.
For more information about the crash site, click here.
Included is a Certificate of Origin, certifying that your artifact came from this historic site.