USAF Phantom 64-1018

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64-1018 – The Unthank Phantom

Both crew members survived after bailing out of USAF Phantom 64-1018 which crashed on 6 May 1970.

This Phantom was a photo-recon variation and as such had no weaponry. Its crew had to rely on other measures to get out of trouble, and so were practising taking evasive manoevres when Vietnam veteran pilot Major Donald E Tokar found he was unable to pull the aircraft out of a steep dive.

He and navigator Major Peter M Dunn ejected from the earth bound jet, which came down in woodland near the Derbyshire village of Unthank, burying itself 20 feet into the ground. As the dust began to settle, witnesses saw bits of 35mm cine film, much of it on fire, drifting down from the sky. Meanwhile the crew came down 3 miles away at Curbar Edge. Major Tokar broke his leg on the rocks, while Major Dunn was bruised but otherwise unhurt and there were no casualties on the ground.

As can be seen in the photo above, there’s very little to show what happened here, just a clearing in the trees and some scraps of metal under the leaves.

Below; Compared with debris from the wreck sites of planes that crashed in the 40s and 50s, this stuff is very corroded and crumbles easily.


Below; photo by Keartona. Curbar Edge where the crew parachuted down.

Curbar edge

This page has photos of the crewmen taken on Curbar Edge plus lots more.

29 comments on “USAF Phantom 64-1018
  1. crusader752 says:

    A peaceful scene Ian which belies it’s history – interesting and nicely captured too! 🙂

  2. *Psycho Delia* says:

    Wonderful set of shots.. very interesting history

  3. steiner2009 "AKA Dr Dust " says:

    this is a brilliant set of photos , and the information is amazing , great work 🙂

  4. Jainbow says:

    Who’d have thought that beautiful spot would have such a story! :~}

  5. nondesigner59 says:

    Nice set of shots and great info..


    Nice Shot. Always very interesting matching information.

  7. pasujoba says:

    Great work Ian ! Finally posted it mate !

  8. And who am i says:

    Nice one Ian, brilliant work, to find out all that information.

  9. And who am i says:

    Nice one Ian, brilliant work, to find out all that information.

  10. cgullz says:

    wow. and here i was thinking that’d be a typical hang-out patch for me with my camera. super interesting [but not surprising] info about what of the wreckage has survived. .. modern cars are a testament to what happens when stuff isn’t made out of solid metal. real pretty scene. glad it wasn’t a fatal story.

  11. gastephen says:

    interesting stuff, Ian.

  12. Tech Owl says:

    Fabulous shot – will be catching up soon (interesting as always Ian)

  13. Keartona says:

    Reading the information on the site you link to it sounds like it was quite an adventure for all involved.

  14. mick cooke says:

    sat and had my snap on those rocks ian its a funny old world

  15. andyholmfirth says:

    Looks such a peaceful place now.

  16. bill_fawcett says:

    Superb photo Ian – love the colours – and another interesting narrative. Nice to have godd ending with the crew relatively unharmed.

  17. stopherjones says:

    Love the composition, light and colouirs of the photograph, a great reminder of how nature will reclaim the land given the chance

  18. Reflective Kiwi %-) says:

    Beautiful capture! It now looks like a lovely tranquil spot! %-)

  19. SolarScot. says:

    glad to hear they got out okay

  20. Hotpix [LRPS] Hanx for 1.5M Views says:

    Wow, a moving story. Nice shot my friend 😎

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  21. f3liney says:

    Fascinating history Ian. I always enjoy your incident accounts.

  22. Neal. says:

    Been a while since we had a crash near us, they used to happen regularly and folks got mighty nervous.

  23. Gizzardtreedude says:

    Another interesting story, great link too 🙂

  24. Jerry O'Neill says:

    64-1018 was the first aircraft I was assigned to as crew chief at 1St T.A.C., R.A.F. Alconbury in 1967. She was a great aircraft and flew better than most with less write-ups in the maintenance records compared to other aircraft at the time.
    Several years later, when I was back in the United States after leaving Alconbury and the military, I learned that she had crashed. It was a devastating surprise and I felt like I had just lost my good friend. I tried to locate someone in the U.K that may have had access to some of the aircraft remaining parts after the crash, but to no avail. I just wanted something to keep and hold that was a part of her, something to remember her by. I am 67 years old now and it has been 45 years since I had left the military but I will never forget my girl,018. It still saddens me to this very day to think about the accident and her demise. She will always be a part of me!

    Thank you for the pictures and the history! Very nice!

    Jerry O’Neill SSgt.
    U.S.A.F, R.A.F Alconbury 1967-1970

    8510 N. Heather Drive
    Castle Rock, CO 80108

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Jerry, great to hear from you and thank you for your memories of 1018. I sometimes wonder what other crew members who had flown these aircraft must think when they learn of their loss. At least on this occasion the crew got away with it.

      As you can see, there are a few scraps of debris in the woods but not much and what’s left is very corroded with nothing recognisable as having come from an aircraft, alas.

      I expect you have seen this photo of your former aircraft at Alconbury?

      Best wishes for 2015.


  25. Jerry O'Neill says:

    Thank you for your reply!

    Do you know of anyone else that may have any parts of significance from the crash site? I would guess there wasn’t much left at the site after the air force took whatever they could salvage. I never saw but one picture of the crash site.
    It didn’t show much, just a view from above which looked like a barren spot in the ground.

    Thank you for your help!

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Jerry,
      I have emailed you a photo of the altimeter from 1018 and a couple of other details which may assist you. Please let me know if you don’t get the email.

  26. Jerry O'Neill says:

    I wasn’t part of the flight crew, I was the crew chief or jet mechanic in charge of that bird. I use to crawl up into her intakes to inspect the engines every day and tell her that she had to fly well for the pilots and the sorties each day.
    My Commander, (Colonel Jack Buchanan, 1st TAC Commander and still alive at 94 today),caught me in the intake one morning and asked me if I talked to my plane all the time, and I answered, “Yes Sir, I do”! I really had an attachment to that bird. It was like she was a part of me. And talking to her did seem to do some good! She and I received a letter from the squadron that depicted that we had the least number of pilot write-ups for maintenance for that period of time. And I read the letter to her in her engine intake! 🙂

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