Capt Yarbrough was flying as Aces 12, number two of a four-ship
COMBAT ARCHER sortie at Tyndall AFB, Fla., to employ a live AIM-120
missile against a drone. After setting up the briefed profile and
receiving clearance to fire, Capt Yarbrough depressed the pickle button.
The AIM-120 rocket motor fired, but instead of leaving the missile rail,
the missile remained on the aircraft. The thrust from the missile's
rocket motor induced a severe yaw moment. Capt Yarbrough reacted to the
unexpected yaw by applying rudder and full aileron. The chase aircraft
perceived that Capt Yarbrough's jet was about to depart controlled
flight and alerted him on the radio. After recovering the aircraft, Capt
Yarbrough applied correct hung ordnance. While 53 WEG telemetry
personnel confirmed that the missile battery had expired and the missile
was safe, Capt Yarbrough continued to experience uncommanded roll. He
accomplished a controllability check, slowing the F-16 to landing
airspeed to determine if a landing was executable. Still unable to stop
a right roll tendency, Capt Yarbrough ran the trim malfunction
checklist. He disconnected aircraft trim from the flight controls; the
uncommanded roll stopped. After consultation with the supervisor of
flying and coordination for the hung ordnance recovery pattern, Capt
Yarbrough returned to Tyndall, complied with local procedures for hung
ordnance dearming, and shut down uneventfully. As this was the first
ever hang fire of a missile on an F-16, there were no established
procedures for handling all the repercussions from this malfunction.
Capt Yarbrough's superb airmanship prevented a catastrophic event
and averted potential loss of life.
Capt Ruven G. Yarbrough
79 FS, 20 FW
Shaw AFB, S.C.