The indicator lights for the right wheel and the nose wheel went on, but the one for the left wheel did not. Greenamyer changed bulbs, and he raised and lowered the gear half a dozen times, but could not get a safe indication that the left wheel was locked down. While he made another 200-mph pass at 50 feet, a former crewman, Bob Flaherty, stood in the middle of the strip trying to see if the dime-size locking pin of the left wheel was in place. In the failing light, Flaherty could not see the pin of either wheel.
Greenamyer flew 30 miles to Edwards Air Force Base. Because there was no time left for a chase plane to scramble up and try to spot the pin from directly below, Greenamyer bounced the Red Baron along the Edwards strip at 200 mph to try to ascertain if the left wheel was locked. The wheel felt spongy to him; the control tower reported that it was collapsing slightly on impact. Because of the heat generated by friction, if an F-104 is belly landed, conflagration is almost a certainty. Because the wing tips are a scant six inches above the belly, total destruction is also very likely. With 10 minutes of fuel left, Greenamyer headed for the Edwards ejection area, 20 miles farther out in the desert. As he climbed to 10,000 feet, he remembered with irony that he had tested every component of more than 100 F-104s, but never an ejection seat, and now he would be using one he had made himself out of scraps.
With five minutes of fuel left, he throttled back to 200 mph, shut down the engine and pulled the ejection ring. The seat rocketed violently out of the plane and broke away from his tumbling form just as it was programmed to do. The parachute streamed behind him and filled. As he drifted down, he saw his Red Baron sinking rapidly below him in straight and level flight as if still manned.
Five miles in front of him, the Red Baron did a 180-degree turn, passed low to his left and out of sight behind him. In another minute all the bits and pieces of the Red Baron, all the junkyard scraps and surplus parts Greenamyer had carefully assembled for 13 years, were scattered among the tumbleweed and Joshua trees of the Mojave, this time beyond re-collection and repair.