August 13, 1979 - U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Theodore "Ted" Faller lost his life when his QF-86 Sabre suffered an engine failure moments after takeoff. Recognizing he was over a residential area, Ted refused to eject and managed to overfly Ridgecrest Heights Elementary School before bringing his stricken aircraft down in a vacant lot 600 yards south of the school.
His chase plane/wingman, Lt. Rosemary Conatser, circled overhead until rescue personal began to arrive on the scene.
Arriving first on the scene, off-duty NWC civilian firefighter Cory Collins later stated that Lt. Cdr. Faller was conscious and alert, but couldn't get out of his flight harness. The landing gear was still retracted and Cory easily jumped up on the aircraft and attempted to release him as fire began to engulf the plane. By then, Ridgecrest fire and police units had arrived, but weren't equipped to douse aviation fuel fires or free Ted from his harness. By the time someone finally arrived with a knife, the rescuers (several of whom were now badly burned) were driven back by the intense heat.
Ridgecrest Heights Elementary School was renamed Theodore Faller Elementary School in his honor.