F111 Crash on Sgurr na Stri in Skye near Loch Coruisk. Getting ready to pay our respects.

At 7.45pm on Tuesday 7th December 1982 a United States F-111F aircraft, tail number 70-2377 crashed on Sgurr na Stri. Maj Burnley L. Rudiger and 1 Lt Steven J. Pitt were killed. I lead a team of 6 plus my dog that flew in on that wild night in a blizzard from RAF Kinloss in Morayshire in 40 years of Rescues all over the UK this was one scary night.  We were praying for a good outcome as we had a few months previously been to a recovery of both crew of another F111, who had ejected in the capsule. This was unique to this aircraft. It was wonderful to get both crew alive unfortunately in Skye this did not happen.We searched everywhere, it was dark, the ground was very difficult, wet rock on fresh snow with big cliffs guarding the way. We were hoping to find the crew but there had been no time to eject. It will be a difficult trip at times for me.We must never forget that these tragedy’s involve real people and families who have to live with this tragedy for the rest of their lives.Major Rudiger (37) , the pilot, was from Virginia USA and 1st Lieutenant Pitt (28), the aircraft’s weapons systems officer, was from New York. Both men left a wife and two children who were, at that time resident in the south of England. Major Rudiger was highly experienced, having flown F-111s since 1969. It is never easy for those who are left behind. One of the amazing things is how the families still thank 30 years later for those who were involved in the recovery on that wild night. Their words are incredible and though we have never met, even in a tragedy it is these contacts that give you faith in human nature. God bless you all.

30 years on December 2012  –  Planning:

We had a chat between friends yesterday sorting out the logistics for our trip, it is all based on the weather and getting a fishing boat in to Loch Coruisk, if not we have a big walk in. We also plan to spend a night in Broadford on Skye to ensure we get to Egol in time for our boat on Friday. It is only a short trip across but what a place to be. We plan to stay in Coruisk hut which is a climbing hut at Loch Coruisk, what a situation to be living. It has all the basics and the last time I stayed was over 30 years ago, I have visited it often as I love the great climbs that are accessible from this remote place. It can be seen from afar with the great St Andrews cross painted on it, I love it! The Coruisk Memorial Hut is situated on the Island of Skye at the head of Loch Scavaig, close to where the River Scavaig flows the few hundred metres from Loch Coruisk to the Sea. It is about 100m from a new landing stage in Loch na Cuilce (off Loch Scavaig) (OS Sheet 32, Grid Ref: NG 487197). The building is self-contained and sleeps 9 persons in bunks within the main room. Sleeping bags are required although there are a number of blankets. Power is supplied by bottled gas that serves the cookers, lights and new stove. Both the flush toilet and the kitchen sink are served by a water pipe running from a nearby burn. All pots, pans, crockery, cutlery, etc. are also provided. (Only sleeping bags, clothing and food are required.)

The Coruisk Hut in the heart of the Cuillins

The Coruisk Hut in the heart of the Cuillins

It is owned by a Climbing Club the (JMCS) – Junior Mountaineering Club of Scotland

and will be our Base for 2 days. n spite of its remoteness the hut is ideally situated for excursions to Sgurr na Stri (recommended), Druim nan Ramh, The Dubhs, Gars-bheinn and the more demanding traverse of the Cuillin Ridge. Rock climbing of all grades is found nearby. On less energetic days one might include low-level walks around Loch na Cuilce, where there are many seals and other forms of wildlife, or around Loch Coruisk, where the scenery is most dramatic with the black rocks plunging into the watery depths. I pray for good weather so we can make our trip to Sgurr na Stri and pay our respects.

 

1982 F111 Crash at Strathconnon both crew got out alive a great result. Unfortunately a few months later this was not the case.

1982 F111 Crash at Strathconnon both crew got out alive a great result. Unfortunately a few months later this was not the case.

 

 

About heavywhalley.MBE

Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist
This entry was posted in Aircraft incidents, History, Mountain rescue. Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to F111 Crash on Sgurr na Stri in Skye near Loch Coruisk. Getting ready to pay our respects.

  1. Sara M. Zak (Pitt) says:

    Hi,
    I’m the now 36 year old daughter of Steven J. Pitt. Thank you; I don’t know what else to say as the tears spill down my face.
    Sara

    Like

    • heavywhalley says:

      Thank you Sara

      I am so glad we made it to Skye, the weather and time of year was against us but we all made it. It was uncanny how similar the weather was during our stay. I hope our visit did not upset you to much but it I feel help remember your Dad and his friend.

      Take great care. Regards from Scotland David Whalley.

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      • saramzak says:

        I know this is years later, David. But thank you again — it means so much to me that you all took the time from your daily lives to remember my dad in such a significant way. I came across this blog again as I try to decide when to make the climb up Sgurr na Stri myself — it is time. I think I will aim for next spring/early summer.

        Liked by 1 person

      • heavywhalley says:

        No problem if I can help In any way please contact me – regards

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      • Sara this is David Whalley could you possibly give me an email contact please as a friend who is writing a book on aircraft crashes in the Isles would like to get in touch please – I hope to visit Skye in October and visit the crash site.

        God bless you

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    • Erik says:

      Sara,
      I’m Erik Rudiger, the 38 year old son of Burnley Rudiger. It would be amazing to talk some time. I am now a Lt Col (sel) and pilot in the USAF. I hope you an your family are doing well.

      God bless,

      Erik

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      • heavywhalley says:

        If I can help in any way please contact me!

        Kind regards

        David Whalley

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      • saramzak says:

        Hi Erik, it would be nice to talk some time 🙂 It is wonderful that you followed in your dad’s footsteps — I am sure he would be very proud! I have been thinking a lot about my dad lately as my daughter has recently turned 6 (my age that night so long ago.) I hope you and your family are well too!
        All my best,
        Sara

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      • heavywhalley says:

        Thinking of you all – I hope to visit Skye soon – Regards and love from Scotland

        Like

    • Susan Rudiger says:

      Sara, I am Susan Rudiger then wife of Lt Col Rudiger. Would you please contact me? I would love to talk to your mother. We shared the awful loss briefly then lost track of each other.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Clyde Mahavier says:

    It’s hard to believe that thirty years have passed since that night. I was a nineteen year old Security Policeman assigned at RAF Lakenheath, at the armory drawing weapons to go on duty, when we learned of the crash. My flight chief selected two of us to join the rest of the accident recovery team to go there. I only had time to run back to the barracks, and quickly threw together a bag to take with me. We left early that morning in a C-130, flying up to Scotland (I don’t recall which base now), where the RAF provided us with a bus and driver to carry us to the Isle of Skye. Due to the remoteness of the crash site, we SPs did not have anything to do there, as there was little chance of the crash site being tampered with, so I spent my days walking around Broadford. I had to walk one day from Broadford out to the site to send word to the crew from our operations center that the helicopter would be delayed in getting out to them. The whole time I was there, I was full of mixed emotions, so saddened by the loss of the two pilots, and being so awestruck by the beauty of Scotland and the Isle of Skye, and the graciousness and kindness of it’s people. After about four days there, I returned to RAF Lakenheath on the CH-53 Jolly Green, with the remains of the Major Rudiger and Lt Pitt. This was my first experience with death in the Air Force, and sadly, not my last. The next day after my return to Lakenheath, the base had memorial services in front of the hospital. Concluding the services was a flyover of F-111s in the missing man formation. I finally lost it, crying while watching the lone F-111 leaving the formation, heaven bound.

    Obviously, I still think of the events of those days, and thankfully with the internet and Google Earth, I still can trace my walk out to Sgurr na Stri, still remembering how it looked then. David, I didn’t have the opportunity to thank you and your fellow mountain rescue crew members for your assistance, so please accept them now, as tardy as it is.

    Sara, please accept my deepest condolences for the tragic loss of your father; I pray that you have memories of him. I hold him and Major Rudiger in my heart as heroes, who unfortunately made the ultimate sacrifice to our country, and to NATO.

    Like

    • heavywhalley says:

      Thank you – the power of the Internet allows us to share a tragic story but one I feel that must be told of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

      It was a huge part of my life and I learned so much on that instance that allowed me to cope with other tragedies throughout my life including Lockerbie.

      Many, many thanks for your comments and it makes all the work worth while. I am hopeing to write a book and this will be a big party of it. I will pass on your kind thoughts to others who visited the crash site last December.

      Kind Regards David “Heavy” Whalley .

      Like

  3. Clyde Mahavier says:

    P.S. I do remember now, that we flew into RAF Lossiemouth, as we drove by Loch Ness.

    Like

  4. Jen says:

    I’m just coming across your post as I remember my dad on this difficult day. I’m Steven Pitt’s 2nd daughter and it means so much to me to read this. Thank you for making this trip, remembering my dad and sharing your experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. David W. Earl says:

    Reading all these posts with great interest and offer my sincere condolencies to the families of the two crew Bob Rudiger and Stephen Pitt.
    As Dave knows I was in touch with Bob Rudiger`s daughter Elaine about 10 years ago and we shared various bits of information.
    I have done much research on this accident since then and also visited the crash site.
    I am an aviation historian and writer currently working on the last of four volumes on military aircraft mishaps around the Scottish Islands entitled `LOST TO THE ISLES`. Aside from covering the loss of the aircraft, as per other volumes I hope to include biographies on the two crew to honour these men. So if any of the family members or squadron buddys would like to get in touch, please drop me an e-mail at: the.dukeof@gmail.com Thanks. David W. Earl

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Kevin says:

    Hi, I am a trainee Skipper at Bella Jane Boat trips based at Elgol near Coruisk. Today, I was informed by one of our clients who was leading a geological survey party in that area that debris from that tragic event had been found. The piece described wasn’t very large but he was positive it was from the crash. He left it where it was but showed me where to look for it. If anyone is going to visit to pay their respects this might be a good focal point.
    Regards, Kevin McCann

    Like

    • heavywhalley says:

      Thanks for that there is still plenty of wreckage on the hill most of it on steep ground. It is. Wonderful mountain and a special place hat a place to work I will be over this year hope we meet!

      Have a great summer!

      Like

  7. Anne says:

    Lt pit is my uncle please contact me?

    Liked by 1 person

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