Saturday, April 7, 2012

Navy F/A-18D crashes into Virginia apartment complex

The last line is the scary one here... "...bad decisions by a student
pilot prevented what could have been a safe landing...". I am curious
about the details of the bad decisions after a mechanical failure.
Should be an interesting report!

Navy F/A-18D crashes into Va. apartment complex

An F/A-18D Hornet from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., crashed Friday
into a two-story apartment building in nearby Virginia Beach.

The pilot and naval flight officer ejected safely and were taken to a
local hospital for observation, Navy officials said.

There was “significant disruption” to the buildings, said Battalion
Chief Tim Riley, a Virginia Beach Fire Department spokesman.

Cheri Hinschelwood, a spokeswoman for Sentara Virginia Beach General
Hospital, said the medical center has treated six patients tied to the
crash, including the two aviators, three civilians, and another
civilian who was treated and released.

Two of the patients suffered from smoke inhalation and another passed
out. One of the aviators was in fair condition and the other in good
condition mid-afternoon Friday, the hospital said in a statement.

In the last two years, local emergency services have had two off-site
training drills with the Navy, Riley said. “It’s integrated into our
system,” he said. “Unfortunately, today it’s come to fruition.”

The aircraft was from Strike Fighter Squadron 106, a Hornet flight
replacement squadron. An FRS trains aviators to fly a specific
airframe. It crashed about 12:05 p.m., shortly after takeoff.

“We will conduct a complete investigation into the cause of this
mishap and share all information we have as soon as we are able to do
so,” said Adm. John Harvey, commander of Fleet Forces Command.

Former Navy SEAL Patrick McAleenan, who was a block away at his home
when the plane crashed, said the sound was unmistakable and the
vibrations made his house shake.

“I knew it was an aircraft. They fly over all the time. I knew it was
an aircraft,” he said in a phone interview.

He said the pilots ejected at the last possible second in an apparent
effort to make sure that the plane would not crash into a nearby

McAleenan said that the aviators appeared to be safe, considering the

“One of them, literally, his parachute hung on a balcony. The people
on the ground were dragging him to safety,” he said.

The F/A-18’s tail section was intact, lying in the apartment
building’s courtyard, he said.

“There’s fire crews. There are lines. Everybody is helping everybody.
The lines are charged and ready, and it looks like they are looking to
see if there are any casualties or survivors and assessing the
damage,” McAleenan said.

Virginia State Police also were on the scene, providing traffic
guidance and controlling the perimeter.

So far this year, there have been at least two F/A-18 Class A mishaps,
the most serious type of accident. The latest was an F/A-18C crash Feb
26 in Bahrain. Two days earlier, an F/A-18F crashed during a routine
training mission in Fallon, Nev.

Off-base crashes have caused the military legal problems. In 2008 a
Marine Corps Hornet crashed into a San Diego home, killing four. The
pilot safely ejected. In December a federal judge awarded the
surviving family of the victims $17.8 million. Two homes were burned
in the crash.

The Corps said the plane had mechanical problems, but bad decisions by
a student pilot prevented what could have been a safe landing at a
naval base.

Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

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