In the early hours of January 13th, 1969 I was forced to accept something that I had known for a while, but had pushed to the back of my mind: I was mortal and was going to die.
This was the first of several incidents when my chance of survival was a good deal less than 1 in 2. This wasn't the scariest, but it was the first, and following on the heels of the terrible events of 1968, it had the biggest impact.
In the end the only "death" was an airplane, Rivet Ball
, the Air Force's only RC-135S. The military version of the Boeing 707, the fuselage broke in half, like an eggshell, on impact. A very talented pilot, John Achor, the aircraft commander, was responsible for that miracle.