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  • 38

1968 account of Seaboard Flight 253, Down in the Kuriles

Submitted
On July 1, 1968, a Seaboard DC-8-63CF enroute from Seattle to Tokyo carrying 214 military passengers was intercepted by Russian MiG fighters and forced to land on Iturup Island in the Kuriles. The account below was prepared by Capt. Bill Eastwood who was dead-heading. He was assisted in the preparation by Capt. Hank Treger, Capt. Tom Reinke, Chief Flight Engineer Ed Acree, and Chief Navigator Bob Schipper. (www.seaboardairlines.org) More...

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DickBeil
Dick Beil 2
An interesting piece of history long since forgotten. Thanks for the memories.
casagallo
Frank Gallo 2
From 1955 through 1957 I was a pilot in the 335th Ftr-Day Sq, 4th Fighter Wing (F-86F)at Chitose AB on Hokkaido. It wasn' unusual to be scrambled up to the northeast, and we would fly the contrails on our side and the Mig-15's based in the Kuriles would be at contrail level on the other side as we paced each other. Soviet aircraft flying from Vladivostock to the Kurile Islands would try to save time and skirt the northern end of Hokkaido, causing our our alert crews to scramble for an intercept. We felt a bit bad for the Mig-15 pilots, as we were told they were usually short on fuel at their base due to the winter ice, and got very little flying time. There was also significant deep recon by the U.S. at that time - we would be scrambled to intercept and escort the recon aircraft as they returned to pass through Hokkaido airspace, and the vectors we got from the GCI sites for those recon aircraft returning were way west, north, and east of the Hokkaido landmass, i.e., deep in Russian territory.
kiwipop
Geoff Arkley 1
Well written and very interesting. I would not have guessed that a DC8 could be "man-handled"
Lineservice
Lineservice 1
That is my grandfather Bill Eastwood! I remember hearing about this story years ago from my dad. Glad to see that it is getting around!
rimantas
rimantas 0
i remember capt Bill Eastwood as being polite and congenial
smoki
smoki 1
Had the ground mapping search radar not failed, everything always seems to go to hell at the same time, the crew would have known as did the check captain when he tried in vain to get the radar operating again, that their relative position to Soviet Airspace was too close for comfort if not penetrating it and made a hard left correction. If one of the passengers could see with his mark 1 mod o eyeball the Soviet islands out the right side, then why couldn't the FO see them assuming he ever looked out that way. Being on the northern most PAC route and closest to Soviet Airspace that would have been a normal observation to make. Also did the selcal feature alert the crew to an attempted call on HF from the Tokyo controllers? Did the Flying Tigers crew in the area call the off course DC-8 on the common enroute frequency and pass along any navigation alert messages from Tokyo? Once there was uncertainty as to their position due to equipment failure the flight's navigator should have been taking more frequent than usual sextant readings whence his mistake might have been discovered in time. All I can say is thank God for GPS and no more dependence on Navigators, LORAN or OMEGA for international overseas flight.
rimantas
rimantas 0
call it what you will ,this was a probe mission,it was not the first intrusion , it is only the first one that made the media..
windblownwoman
I was a PAC-MAC flight attendant for Braniff. Our crew was on a layover at the Tokyo Hilton Hotel and I remember all the news media arriving to cover this event. Knowing that it was a PAC-MAC flight with our US military on board, we were very concerned for the safety of the passengers and crew. I do recall that the flight attendant who took the photos of the Migs hid the camera in a drop-down O2 mask above the passenger seats. Brave crew and passengers. Everyone kept their cool.
theschoolofchuck
Had no idea that happened. Unless the Soviets were absolutely convinced they intercepted a spyplane, forcing a landing like that is risky.
Derg
Roland Dent 0
Regular event in the North Sea off the eastern seabord of the UK. In this case the Russians had every right to land the intruder. Different world back then...but to this day the occasional Russian Bear flies down the east coast of the UK. Just inside international airspace. If I am not mistaken I think USA has a similar events with the Bears.
weastwood
That is my grandfather Bill Eastwood! I remember hearing about this story years ago from my dad. Glad to see that it is getting around!
rimantas
rimantas 0
i remember the flight crew in those days ..i used to be crew scheduler at jfk for swa prior to that incident and ex atc operator at tachikawa ab from 63-65 still alive and living in costa rica .maybe one day somebody will recall a few memorable incidents at beirut
durandcruz
Manuel Cruz 0
As a USAF POL Spec @ Yokota AB, 69-73, had many SWA DC8's come thru, had recently found out about those "skid pads" on the tail sections, and seen them in action, Great story!
BTW, my Bro-in-law, was stationed at Tachikawa Hospital, doing Air Evacs from RVN....

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