Photo: Colin Mckay via twitter
Photo: csaq via twitter
A two-seater F-18 Hornet, with the Strike Fighter Squadron 106 at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia, crashed into an apartment building in Virginia Beach at about noon today.
It crashed shortly after take-off from the base roughly 5 miles away.
Navy officials say the two aviators were an instructor and a student. According to a police spokesman on WTKR.com, both safely ejected and are in stable condition.
Seven people were injured.
An eyewitness to the plane crash, George Pilkington, told CNN that within two or 300 yards of where the plane crashed, the aircraft emptied its jet fuel, with its nose up, and crashed into the building at the Mayfair Mews Apartments.
Officials at a press conference said the fuel dump leads them to believe there was a “catastrophic mechanical malfunction.” The U.S. Navy will be conducting a thorough investigation and will determine why the fuel was released.
As for why the plane would go down with the nose pointing up:
Experts say pilots typically push
Photo: Wikipedia Commons
the stick forward to cope with a stall to close the angle with the air and regain lift.The doomed Air France jet that went down in the Atlantic in 2009 went down the same way as its pilot responded to the stall warnings showing in the cockpit.
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell issued a public statement saying he will provide the full resources of the state to assist teams on the ground. According to Mayor Will Sessoms there are 55 EMS personnel and 65 police at the scene.
Since its commissioning the VFA-106 Squadron has earned numerous awards, including the Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation and two Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Awards.
But there have been other F-18 crashes — caused by explosive engines and oil leaks in a couple cases — in recent years.
Last August, two Marine Corps aviators flying the fighter crashed in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico. The cause has not been confirmed, but both pilots survived and were rescued by the Coast Guard after ejecting into the ocean. A list in progress of successful F-18 ejections over the past 20 years can be found here.
10 News also reports last March the engine on another Hornet exploded and caused a fire as the jet was about to launch from the USS John C. Stennis off San Diego. Eleven crew members were injured, but the pilot made it out lucky.
In another December 2008 incident a F/A-18 Hornet crashed into a University City house in San Diego while approaching Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Four people were killed, but the pilot, who safely ejected, was put on probation for what military investigators called a series of bad decisions. The Register reports the right-side engine failed due to an oil leak shortly after take off. Then the second General Electric turbofan engine failed due to a malfunction with fuel pumping from the tanks to the engines. Lack of communication between him and the ground crew was also cited.
The combat-proven F/A-18 Hornet is a twin-engine, multi-mission, tactical aircraft. It converts between air-to-air fighter missions and air-to-ground strike missions while on the same sortie with the flick of a switch. Currently serving the armed services of eight nations, the F/A-18 fulfils the following types of assignment: fighter escort, suppression of enemy air defenses, reconnaissance, forward air control, close air support, and day and night strike missions.
Photo: Ross Grogg via Twitter
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