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Freakish Flightline Friday June 3, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Flightline Friday, foolishness, Four Last Things, non squitur, sadness, silliness, Society, technology.
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Strange occurrence today.  In separate episodes spread over 1000 miles part, both a US Navy Blue Angels F-18A and a USAF Thunderbirds F-16C crashed.  The pilot of the Blue Angels plane, Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, was killed, God rest his soul.  The Thunderbird crash seems to have been a mechanical fault, as the pilot was returning to the strip when he apparently made the call to pull the yellow handle and eject.  He’s supposed to be injured but should be OK.  The bird may be totaled, hard to tell, but USAF has so few planes these days they are expending heroic efforts, and lots of $$$, to put birds back in service that have crashed (an F-22, more precious than gold, was repaired at a cost of over $25 million).  Some details:

The pilot of a Blue Angels jet was killed Thursday during practice for a weekend air show, hours after a Thunderbirds F-16 crashed following a flyover at the U.S. Air Force Academy commencement ceremony attended by the President, officials said.

The Navy said the Blue Angels pilot died from injuries suffered in the crash in Tennessee.

The Thunderbirds pilot safely ejected before the plane went down in Colorado, officials said……..

…….Lt. Col. Christopher Hammond, commander of the Air Force’s Thunderbirds demonstration team, told reporters that the pilot, Maj. Alex Turner, experienced an unspecified problem as he was trying to land after the flyover and ejected.

“He had already put his gear down, and that’s when the incident occurred,” Hammond said, adding that Turner radioed that he was maneuvering so he wouldn’t hit any houses. “He made a conscious effort to direct his aircraft away from some of the local neighborhoods.”……..

………The crash was the first for the Blue Angels since April 2007, when Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Davis was killed when he crashed during an air show at a Marine Corps air station in Beaufort, South Carolina.

Hammond said the Thunderbirds crash was the squadron’s first since September 2003 when Capt. Chris Stricklin ejected safely before his F-16 hit the ground. None of the 85,000 people at the air show in Mountain Home, Idaho, was injured.

The two demonstration team crashes on one day appear to be first time such a coincidence has occurred.

Yeah, I can’t think of two crashes affecting the two teams on the same day ever before.  Not even sure about the same year, except maybe back when the Thunderbirds flew the F-105B Thunderchief and had wings falling off.

Bad stuff.  The F-16 looks fairly messed up, but possibly repairable.  At a guess, both ventral strakes, both horizontal stabs, the port wing, the landing gear, the front fuselage, and the intake will all have to be replaced.  Maybe the engine, too, if it was still spinning when it hit the ground.  Might be a write-off.

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The deceased:

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But then again, this Six went back into service after the pilot bailed out due to an unrecoverable flat spin.  Amazingly, after he bailed out, the aircraft righted itself and coasted down to the ground. The airplane landed itself.  It then continued to gradually scootch along the icy ground under the thrust of the still operating engine.

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This F-106A (S/N 58-0787) was involved in an unusual incident. During a training mission, it entered an flat spin forcing the pilot to eject. Unpiloted, the aircraft recovered on its own and miraculously made a gentle belly landing in a snow-covered field. (U.S. Air Force photo)

This F-106A (S/N 58-0787) was involved in an unusual incident. During a training mission, it entered an flat spin forcing the pilot to eject. Unpiloted, the aircraft recovered on its own and miraculously made a gentle belly landing in a snow-covered field. (U.S. Air Force photo)

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The F-106 was always known to be a smooth and steady aircraft.  So smooth, apparently, it could land itself.  I’m sure the ice and snow helped a bit.

As an addendum to the story, not only was 58-0787 hardly damaged, not only did it return to service, but it was the very last F-106 retired from the Air Force, 18 years after this unpiloted landing.

Project Six Shooter.

Again, God rest the soul of the pilot who died and God speed the healing of Maj. Turner.

Comments

1. Anonymous - June 3, 2016

I went to high school with one of the Blue Angels Pilots. When they performed at the Alliance Air Show last year, he was flying Jet 6. I got to say hi, and my son took a picture with him. I spent all day, yesterday, after they announced it was jet 6 that went down, thinking it was him. I don’t know why he wasn’t flying jet 6, but he wasn’t.

Requiescat in pace.


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