Naval Aviator Returns to Underwater Site of 1974 Crash

Sep 30, 2012 No Comments by

Bob Besal went on a fishing trip this month off the coast of St. Augustine, Fla. The 62-year-old retired rear admiral, who earned two Distinguished Flying Cross awards and spent a lifetime on the water and above it, didn’t catch any fish, but he did return with some memorable souvenirs.

Twenty miles from shore and 80 feet under the Atlantic, parts of Besal’s past were brought to the surface. Nearly 38 years ago, the naval aviator made a critical decision that almost cost him his life and ultimately defined it.

Besal and three other pilots were simulating bombing runs on a training mission when his Vought A-7 Corsair II clipped the plane next to him. Besal ejected at a speed close to 350 mph.

“It’s not one of those things you brag about, honestly,” laughed Besal. “I didn’t cover myself in glory on Dec. 2, 1974. So it’s one of those things if people asked I would tell them, but I didn’t try to advertise it as such.”

For the complete story by CNN’s Jim Barnett, click here.

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Online Editor I've been around airplanes since I was a kid. That's when my uncle, a professional pilot, showed me how to fly his Cessna 177 Cardinal. l later became a writer and editor, so covering the exciting and ever-changing aviation industry -- which I've been doing in Flight Journal's Flybys since the late '90s -- was a natural fit.
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