On June 16,
1953 while trying to land his disabled F-86D Sabre Jet at Andrews AFB
Capt Evans Jr. made the ultimate sacrifice to save the lives of the
children at Forestville Elementary School.
website is dedicated to the memory of USAF Capt. Francis T. Evans
Jr. It is a first hand eyewitness account (with corroboration
from other classmates/eye witnesses) of the last 5 to10 seconds
of the 29 minute flight of this seasoned WWII combat fighter
This writer has
been unable to locate the Washington Times Herald, The Washington Star
or Washington Daily News for June 17, 1953. Please
feel free to send any information you may have on obtaining any of
the newspapers mentioned above to the address below. Any
eyewitnesses I haven't talked to recently, please send an email to: TheFrancisTEvansJrStory@comcast.net
few facts, current
websites & newspapers referencing Captain
Francis T Evans Jr. and the F-86D. Documentary follows links and
July 29, 1921
Died: June 16, 1953
Andrews AFB, 4,320
acres, in Camp
Springs, is bordered by
Forestville, Morningside and Clinton, all in Prince Georges
Text of above newspapers for
easier reading. (Future)
Commentary on above Newspaper articles. (Future)
This Portrait and Plaque
in the old Forestville Elementary School.
It was in the auditorium that was built in his honor.
Sometime between 1994 and 2006 it was moved to the "new Main Entrance"
foyer when public
access to the auditorium was removed. In the same time frame,
someone had the plaque restored.
The first 3 photographs below will be replaced about July 2009.
The picture below is a close up of the Plaque shown above for easy
This is the original Main Entrance of the old Forestville Elementary
This is the thin and West side of the school. Classrooms lined
of the centered hallway.
The school system built a new school in a new
location sometime after 1958.
It then became the Prince Georges County Police Academy Training
It is now the Prince Georges County Office of Central Services,
Facilities Operations and Management.
To the left (North) of the school is now a parking lot for about 100
Until they built the re-located school, the above mentioned
parking lot was
the well kept
grass playground (where most of
the children were at that fateful moment)
that separated the woods, where Capt Evans put his jet
down, and the school.
Captain Francis T Evans Jr. Aviation Experience
647.35 hours, jet fighter
215. hours, combat, WWII Europen Theater, 371st
Fighter Group F-86D Instructor Pilot
Pilot since July 28, 1943
(21 years old)
Defense Command (ADC)
Eastern Air Defense Force (EAD)
4710th Defense Wing (DEF)
95th Fighter Interceptor (FI) Squadron
Base Assignment, Andrews AFB (1321)
Primary Duty Assignment, Air Operations
Date of Manufacture
April 21, 1953 Aircraft Total Flight Hours 18.00 Engine Total Flight
Hours 18.00 Cost
16, 1953 Andrews AFB & Vicinity
Visibility 10 Miles
Ceiling 4000 Feet
Temperature 78 Degrees F Dew Point 58 Degrees F
At 14:54 First Lieutenant Leon A. Blackmon in Skyhigh 22 and Capt.
Francis T. Evans Jr. in Skyhigh 16 took off from Andrews AFB on runway
19 due South
on a training mission. First Lieutenant Blackmon was going up for
his F-86D "VFR Instruction Check" with Capt Evans being his instructor
piloting the "chase plane". They rose to 20,000 feet for
maneuvers before descending for more.
At 15:00 the bell rang at Forestville Elementary School signifying the
end of the school day and, on this paticular day, the end of the school
year. Parents picked up some of the kids, most of the walking
students started walking home while some of them stayed to play with
friends they might not see for 3 months, and those who rode the first
of the three bus trips that were required to get students to and from
school each day got on their bus. The rest of the students started
playing in the large playground.
Some "moments" before 15:19, the jets' Adapter Drive Spline, which
connects the engine to the hydraulic pump for the normal
hydraulic system, sheared due to material failure. This
failed system controlled the Aileron and Elevator. At this time Capt. Evans activated
the electrically driven alternate
control hydraulic system..
At approximately 15:19,
approximately 30 miles southeast
of Andrews AFB at an altitude about 7000 feet, Capt Evans radioed his
pilot that he was returning to base due to hydraulic
failure and that he should continue his mission.
At about 15:21 Capt. Evans contacted the control tower asking for
instructions and informing them he still had about 2500 pounds of fuel
remaining and was operating on the alternate
flight control system. The tower radioed all planes in the
area to stay out of the area for 5 minutes for an emergency landing and
alerted the crash equipment to the end of runway 19. Capt Evans
then entered a normal overhead
pattern for runway 19.
On the downwind leg he slowed
down to 185 knots and lowered the flaps and landing gear. About
7000' north of the runway he turned onto base leg
at which time he discovered the alternate
flight control hydraulic system had failed. (This failure
was caused by a short circuit in that system.) This left him
with only the throttle to control the aircraft. On jet aircraft
there is NO direct connection between the pilots' controls and the
flight control surfaces.
Without hydraulics there is simply no
way to operate the aileron or elevator. His last transmission to the Control Tower was Negative
Hydralics which, unfortunately, meant he was unable to execute
the last turn he needed to make before landing. This left him heading
straight for the playground.
Seconds later the kids and
teachers on the playground and those
standing in line waiting to board the second of the three bus trips
turned their heads towards the sound of a jet being way too low.
(The final approach for
runway 19 is very close to being directly over the school itself so the
students and teachers alike were very familiar with the sounds the
different planes made as they took off or landed.) He then
ejected the canopy. A second or so later he saw the playground full of
kids. Virtually everyone on the school property just froze in
eyes fixed on the too low jet that had now come into view not too far
above the treetops.
At 15:23 Capt. Evans, 44 days shy of being 32, USAF jet fighter pilot,
husband, father of a 3
old daughter with their second child due in 3 months, made a fateful
and pulled the throttle back hard and as soon as the jet was in a 45
degree dive (another split second) he pressed the eject button.
The ejection seat tumbled uncontrollably through the air at a 45 degree
angle to the horizon and Capt. Evans was unable to pull the ripcord
even after he and the seat separated (see ejection seat note below). Capt Evans had managed to crash
the jet 30 feet into the woods. The
30 feet of
woods protected everyone from the flying pieces of the jet.
Had Capt. Evans taken one second to make his next to last split second
decision, the jet would've crashed in the playground. The ensuing explosion broke at least a
third of the windows on the north side of the school some 300
feet away. No
other building damage occurred. No child, teacher or school
employee on the ground was injured in any way.
USAF Capt. Francis
Thomas Evans Jr. had
achieved his #1 goal.
Tragically, he was unable to achieve his secondary objective.
Captain Evans Jr. was 31 years old, leaving behind his wife, soon to
2 daughters, father, mother and younger brother.
the plaque above states, in part,
"... and will be remembered in
thanks and gratitude by the children of this school and ...",
this writer can state
unequivocally that everyone who witnessed Capt.
Evans' heroic act has remembered to this day.
Accident Investigation Findings
All F-86D Sabre Jets were grounded pending completion of the accident
Ejection seats were to be improved to operate without tumbling during
altitude / non level
Determine a better metal for the Adapter Drive Spline.