977 was lost on Thursday, October 10, 1968.  Both pilot and RSO escaped harm, but in separate ways.  Don Person recalls:

".... I was now reassigned to quality control as an inspector. My task that morning was to observe the launch of 977. [The] aircraft had just taken the active runway and was in take-off roll when we observed the left brake come apart and pieces punctured the inner wing fuel cells. A massive fire started; drag chutes were deployed and immediately burnt up. 977 proceded down the runway, all tires now flat. As 977 was approaching the end of the runway the RSO [Maj. James Kogler] ejected; arrestment cable caught the intake lips as the tires were flat and too low to catch the landing gear trunnions. As all this was happening the launch crew including myself were screaming down the taxiway following the aircraft. We arrived several minutes after it stopped and assisted the pilot [Maj. Abe Kardong] away from the crash area...."

Abe Kardong and Jim Kogler in what may or may not be 977 - USAF photo via Phil Loignon

977 cockpit photo courtesy of Joe Tomasone
photo courtesy of Joe Tomasone
977's cockpit has since been recovered and restored, and is now on display at Boeing Field's Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington, next to 940.

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