On 2 May 1999, Pilot Lt. Col. David Goldfein’s F-16 was shot down over western Serbia by an S-125 surface-to-air missile fired by the 3rd Battery of the 250th Air Defense Missile Brigade of the Yugoslav Air Force. Goldfein successfully ejected and was subsequently rescued by NATO helicopters.
The F-16, callsign “Hammer 34” was egressing from the target area located near Novi Sad, at 02.00 AM LT on, when a Serbian surface-to-air missile exploded close to the plane, causing heavy damage to its engine.
The following video and audio were recorded by the U.S. Air Force F-16CG #88-0550 belonging to the 31st Fighter Wing from Aviano airbase, Italy, which was shot down during a combat mission over Serbia during Allied Force.
This video will let you hear and feel those last few minutes of a fighter pilot on a damaged plane who knows is about to eject behind the enemy lines.
Pilot Lt. Col. David Goldfein was eventually able to eject safely from the plane that lost the engine thrust and began to glide towards the ground and was later rescued by a Combat SAR team (on two MH-53J Pave Low and an MH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter) who picked him up before dawn.
By the way, another detail worth noticing is that the Hammer flight, made of 4 F-16s was talking interplane on a low VHF frequency, 123.450 MHz that is commonly used by General Aviation planes (because it’s easy to remember 1-2-3-4-5), and did not use encrypted comms, something that made their conversation easily intercepted by the Serbians (as occurred also more than a decade later in Libya proving that COMSEC doesn’t imply the use of Have Quick radios in war).
The Pilot Lt. Col. David Goldfein 17 years later, be nominated to become the next chief of staff of the Air Force, Gen. David Goldfein and Currently Serving as a is a four-star general in the United States Air Force