No deaths in Navy F/A-18D crash

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (/AP) – Authorities in Virginia Beach say they consider themselves fortunate after a Navy Jet slammed into an apartment complex.

Witnesses say the plane dumped fuel before the crash after an apparent malfunction.

According to the Virginia Beach Fire Dept. Battalion Chief Tim Riley, they have no reports of missing people. At one point, investigators believed three people were unaccounted for. Riley says the three missing people turned out to be misinformation and the apartment had been vacant before the crash.

Seven people were injured, including the pilot and co-pilot, who ejected.

Riley said early Saturday morning that crews had done an exhaustive search of about 95 percent of the apartment complex. He said crews have been through every building in the Mayfair Mews Apartments and no victims have been found.

Crews searched through the rubble after an F/A-18D jet crashed into an apartment complex in Virginia Beach Friday afternoon.

The crash happened just after noon when the aircraft suffered ” catastrophic mechanical malfunction ” shortly after takeoff, according to Captain Mark Weisgerber, Deputy Commander for the Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic. Both pilots were forced to eject from the jet, which then crashed into the Mayfair Mews Apartments off of Fleming Drive.

Weisgerber added the pilot in the front seat was a student, while the back seat was occupied by an experienced instructor.

Virginia Beach Police responded to the scene and went door to door at the apartment complex to see if any residents were in their homes, Grazie Moyers with VBPD told WAVY.com.

As soon as first responders arrived on scene, Virginia State Police closed Interstate 264 in both directions, causing quite a traffic backup. Traffic cameras from the Virginia Department of Transportation showed thick, black smoke billowing up from the crash site.

All lanes of I-264 were back open at 3 p.m. Friday.

The American Red Cross is offering assistance to those affected by the crash .

A shelter at Birdneck Elementary School closed Saturday, according to a news release, after the city reported the 26 people who took shelter there found other places to stay. Displaced residents were scheduled to meet with the American Red Cross and the Navy on Saturday afternoon.

The City of Virginia Beach Animal Care and Adoption Center is also taking in family pets.

Virginia Beach Fire officials said there were no fatalities reported.

The Navy will start providing damage claims forms Saturday to those impacted by Friday’s crash. Click here for details.

 

Navy Jet Crash Claims No Lives, Apartment Residents Accounted For

PHOTO: An Navy F/A-18 jet plane crashed in Virginia Beach on April 6, 2012 in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

A fighter jet that crashed into an apartment building in Virginia’s most populous city destroyed several homes but seems to have miraculously claimed no lives.

Fire officials said today they are “95 percent certain we have everybody accounted for.”

Seconds after takeoff, the student pilot and instructor were forced to shut down one engine on their F/A-18 Hornet after noticing a fuel leak.

The crew began dumping fuel by pumping it over the side to keep the plane light enough to fly, but were forced to eject moments before the plane slammed into an apartment building at 12:05 p.m. Friday.

The crew followed the appropriate procedures, shutting down the engine with the leak, a military source told ABC News military and aviation consultant Stephen Ganyard.

“The fact that they had to eject from the airplane tells me the aircraft was clearly uncontrollable and there was nothing more they could do to move that aircraft from populated areas,” Ganyard said.

The two pilots and five people on the ground were taken to the hospital. All but one of the pilots have been released.

The crash started a fire at the Mayfair Mews apartment complex, destroying or damaging some 50 units.

Less fuel also “mitigated what could have been an absolute massive, massive fireball and fire,” said Bruce Nedelka, the Virginia Beach EMS division chief, according to The Associated Press.

“The plane went straight up with no sound,” John, an eyewitness, told WVEC. “And [then] he went right into a dive and I thought maybe it was a training exercise. And then, boom. I could hear it hit and I seen black smoke and instantly smelled jet fuel. … I’ve never seen nothing like it before.”

Eyewitness Colby Smith said he helped one of the pilots after the crash.


PHOTO: An Navy F/A-18 jet plane crashed in Virginia Beach on April 6, 2012 in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

PHOTO: An Navy F/A-18 jet plane crashed in Virginia Beach on April 6, 2012 in Virginia Beach, Virginia.













“I saw the pilot laying there with a bloodied-up face. He was pouring blood,” Smith told WVEC. “I looked out my bedroom window and I saw nothing but red, just red and orange, flashing, and just a crackling noise. I said, ‘What is that?’ And then I heard a lot of ‘pop, pop, pop.’”

Click here to see more photos from the crash site.

Smith and several other bystanders rushed to carry the pilot to safety.

“We picked up the pilot, who was really heavy,” Smith said. “He must have weighed at least 200 pounds, with all his equipment. Me and three other guys picked him up and we carried him to the street. I got so much blood on me.”

One witness described the pilot as being very apologetic.

“The pilot said, ‘I’m sorry for destroying your house,’ and I just bent down and I touched him and I was like ‘it’s okay, it really – are you okay?’ and he was like ‘I think I am.’”

Former Navy SEAL Patrick McAleenan told Navy Times he was a block away from the crash and believed the pilots ejected at the last second in an attempt to avoid hitting a school.

The apartment complex is about three miles from the landing strip at Oceana Naval Station and, according to Google Maps, there are several schools within a two-mile radius of the crash site, including one elementary school a half mile away.

“We have planned for this,” Virginia Beach Fire Department Battalion Chief Tim Riley told WVEC. “We’ve done two mishap drills in the past two years and, unfortunately, today it has come to fruition.”

The aircraft was part of the Strike Fighter Squadron 106, which is a training squadron for student pilots. The Navy said the student pilot was in the front seat and an experienced instructor was in the back.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell offered additional resources to the Virginia Beach community.

“I have spoken to Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms several times and informed him that all commonwealth resources are available to him as the community responds to this breaking situation,” he said in a statement. “We are monitoring events carefully as they unfold and State Police resources are now on the scene. Our fervent prayer is that no one was injured or killed in this accident.”

Navy Jet Crash: Officials to Begin Recovering Plane Parts

PHOTO: An Navy F/A-18 jet plane crashed in Virginia Beach on April 6, 2012 in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Navy officials said today they will start a painstaking process moving “from the outside in” at a damaged Virginia Beach apartment complex to recover every part from a fighter jet that crashed Friday.

All of the pieces will be laid out in a hangar and examined by specialists, who hope to determine what went wrong with the jet, which had an experienced instructor pilot on board.

“It’s going to take weeks to put this all together,” said Admiral John Harvey, commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces.

The crash, which happened at 12:05 p.m. Friday, seems to have miraculously claimed no lives.

Harvey praised the work of first responders and citizens for pulling the pilots to safety and evacuating the building.

Fire officials said today they are “95 percent certain we have everybody accounted for.”

Seconds after takeoff, the student pilot and instructor were forced to shut down one engine on their F/A-18 Hornet after noticing a fuel leak.

The crew began dumping fuel by pumping it over the side to keep the plane light enough to fly, but were forced to eject moments before the plane slammed into an apartment building.

The crew followed the appropriate procedures, shutting down the engine with the leak, a military source told ABC News military and aviation consultant Stephen Ganyard.

“The fact that they had to eject from the airplane tells me the aircraft was clearly uncontrollable and there was nothing more they could do to move that aircraft from populated areas,” Ganyard said.


PHOTO: An Navy F/A-18 jet plane crashed in Virginia Beach on April 6, 2012 in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

PHOTO: An Navy F/A-18 jet plane crashed in Virginia Beach on April 6, 2012 in Virginia Beach, Virginia.













The two pilots and five people on the ground were taken to the hospital. All but one of the pilots has been released.

The crash started a fire at the Mayfair Mews apartment complex, destroying or damaging some 50 units.

Less fuel also “mitigated what could have been an absolute massive, massive fireball and fire,” said Bruce Nedelka, the Virginia Beach EMS division chief, according to The Associated Press.

“The plane went straight up with no sound,” John, an eyewitness, told WVEC. “And [then] he went right into a dive and I thought maybe it was a training exercise. And then, boom. I could hear it hit and I seen black smoke and instantly smelled jet fuel. … I’ve never seen nothing like it before.”

Eyewitness Colby Smith said he helped one of the pilots after the crash.

“I saw the pilot laying there with a bloodied-up face. He was pouring blood,” Smith told WVEC. “I looked out my bedroom window and I saw nothing but red, just red and orange, flashing, and just a crackling noise. I said, ‘What is that?’ And then I heard a lot of ‘pop, pop, pop.’”

Click here to see more photos from the crash site.

Smith and several other bystanders rushed to carry the pilot to safety.

“We picked up the pilot, who was really heavy,” Smith said. “He must have weighed at least 200 pounds, with all his equipment. Me and three other guys picked him up and we carried him to the street. I got so much blood on me.”

One witness described the pilot as being very apologetic.

“The pilot said, ‘I’m sorry for destroying your house,’ and I just bent down and I touched him and I was like ‘it’s okay, it really – are you okay?’ and he was like ‘I think I am.’”

Former Navy SEAL Patrick McAleenan told Navy Times he was a block away from the crash and believed the pilots ejected at the last second in an attempt to avoid hitting a school.

US Navy jet crash sets Virginia apartment building ablaze, 3 people …

CLICK HERE TO VIEW F-18 CRASH PHOTOS

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – A U.S. Navy F/A-18D fighter crashed into an apartment complex in Virginia soon after takeoff on Friday, sending fireballs into the sky, damaging six buildings and injuring at least seven people.

No deaths have been reported, but three residents of the Mayfair Mews complex for the elderly were unaccounted for, authorities said.

“We have physically been in every structure, and we have 95 percent completed the search and rescue,” Virginia Beach Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Tim Riley said.

All the injuries, including those to the F/A-18 crew, have so far been described as minor, officials said. Both crew members ejected safely from the aircraft before it crashed into the buildings in Virginia Beach, and one pilot was found still strapped into his ejection seat.

Four of the injured were taken to a hospital for treatment. Authorities had said nine people were injured, but later revised the number to seven, not including the pilots.

The F/A-18D “suffered a catastrophic mechanical malfunction” during a training flight, Navy Captain Mark Weisgerber said in a statement from the Pentagon.

Thick black clouds of smoke billowed into the air as fire reduced the apartment buildings to a blackened shell. The Mayfair Mews complex was less than two miles (3.2 km) from Naval Air Station Oceana, where the F-18D was based.

Crews searched for any injured residents in five buildings, several of which have collapsed, Riley said. Three residents in one building were unaccounted for. Investigators will remain on the scene for three or four more days after the search is complete, Riley said.

Witness Kelly McQuaid, who lives near the apartment complex, said the jet was on fire before it crashed.

“It almost looked like the nose was pointed up,” she said, “like he was trying to pull back up.”

McQuaid said she saw one of the pilots as he was brought out on a stretcher. “He actually looked pretty well,” she said. You could tell he was pretty dazed, and there were scratches on his face.”

She said people closer to the scene told her that the pilot apologized for crashing the plane into the building as he was being helped.

Vicki Hoffman, who lives in a condo next door to the Mews, said one pilot landed on her neighbor’s patio.

“She said she was trying to get his head gear off and said the response was very quick,” she said. “He was conscious.”

The distinctive, twin-finned tail section of the F/A-18D landed in the courtyard of the complex of two-story brick buildings.

Dozens of firefighters and emergency workers converged on the scene, covering the apartment complex with foam.

The plane was part of a training squadron at Oceana, the largest Navy air facility on the East Coast. It prepares Navy and Marine aviators and weapons officers for duty. About 250 aircraft are stationed at Oceana.

Admiral John Harvey Jr, commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces, praised the “heroic response” of those at the complex and emergency personnel who took care of the air crew and others at the scene.

There are 37 tactical squadrons of F-18s operating from bases worldwide and from 10 aircraft carriers. The Navy’s precision air team, the Blue Angels, flies the F-18.

Virginia Beach, with 440,000 residents, is on the Atlantic Coast about 200 miles (320 km) south of Washington, D.C. Much of its economy relies on tourists who come to enjoy its miles of beaches. The city is home to a complex of military bases, including Oceana, and the home of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet is next door at Norfolk, Virginia.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW F-18 CRASH PHOTOS

US Navy jet crash sets Virginia apartment building ablaze, 3 people …

CLICK HERE TO VIEW F-18 CRASH PHOTOS

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – A U.S. Navy F/A-18D fighter crashed into an apartment complex in Virginia soon after takeoff on Friday, sending fireballs into the sky, damaging six buildings and injuring at least seven people.

No deaths have been reported, but three residents of the Mayfair Mews complex for the elderly were unaccounted for, authorities said.

“We have physically been in every structure, and we have 95 percent completed the search and rescue,” Virginia Beach Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Tim Riley said.

All the injuries, including those to the F/A-18 crew, have so far been described as minor, officials said. Both crew members ejected safely from the aircraft before it crashed into the buildings in Virginia Beach, and one pilot was found still strapped into his ejection seat.

Four of the injured were taken to a hospital for treatment. Authorities had said nine people were injured, but later revised the number to seven, not including the pilots.

The F/A-18D “suffered a catastrophic mechanical malfunction” during a training flight, Navy Captain Mark Weisgerber said in a statement from the Pentagon.

Thick black clouds of smoke billowed into the air as fire reduced the apartment buildings to a blackened shell. The Mayfair Mews complex was less than two miles (3.2 km) from Naval Air Station Oceana, where the F-18D was based.

Crews searched for any injured residents in five buildings, several of which have collapsed, Riley said. Three residents in one building were unaccounted for. Investigators will remain on the scene for three or four more days after the search is complete, Riley said.

Witness Kelly McQuaid, who lives near the apartment complex, said the jet was on fire before it crashed.

“It almost looked like the nose was pointed up,” she said, “like he was trying to pull back up.”

McQuaid said she saw one of the pilots as he was brought out on a stretcher. “He actually looked pretty well,” she said. You could tell he was pretty dazed, and there were scratches on his face.”

She said people closer to the scene told her that the pilot apologized for crashing the plane into the building as he was being helped.

Vicki Hoffman, who lives in a condo next door to the Mews, said one pilot landed on her neighbor’s patio.

“She said she was trying to get his head gear off and said the response was very quick,” she said. “He was conscious.”

The distinctive, twin-finned tail section of the F/A-18D landed in the courtyard of the complex of two-story brick buildings.

Dozens of firefighters and emergency workers converged on the scene, covering the apartment complex with foam.

The plane was part of a training squadron at Oceana, the largest Navy air facility on the East Coast. It prepares Navy and Marine aviators and weapons officers for duty. About 250 aircraft are stationed at Oceana.

Admiral John Harvey Jr, commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces, praised the “heroic response” of those at the complex and emergency personnel who took care of the air crew and others at the scene.

There are 37 tactical squadrons of F-18s operating from bases worldwide and from 10 aircraft carriers. The Navy’s precision air team, the Blue Angels, flies the F-18.

Virginia Beach, with 440,000 residents, is on the Atlantic Coast about 200 miles (320 km) south of Washington, D.C. Much of its economy relies on tourists who come to enjoy its miles of beaches. The city is home to a complex of military bases, including Oceana, and the home of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet is next door at Norfolk, Virginia.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW F-18 CRASH PHOTOS

Navy Jet Crash: 3 Still Unaccounted For, Rescue Workers Say

A day after a Navy fighter jet crashed into a Virginia Beach apartment complex, rescue workers on Saturday continued their work to locate three residents that have still been unaccounted for, according to a report by CNN.

Virginia Beach Fire Department Battalion Chief Tim Riley told reporters that while there were no initial reports of fatalities, there are still three residents that are unaccounted for.

Rescue workers said late Friday that they had completed a 95 percent search around the Navy jet crash site, and that if there’s anyone still left in the apartment complex, “chances of survivability would be low.”

While no one has been reported missing following the Navy jet crash on Friday, rescue workers, using a checklist of occupants in the buildings, were able to account for all occupants except for three.

According to reports, the Navy jet was dumping loads of fuel before the two pilots ejected before crashing into a Virginia Beach apartment complex, destroying a portion of the building. It wasn’t clear if the fuel dumping was part of a training exercise, or the result of a malfunction.

The Associated Press reports that, according to Bruce Nedelka, the Virginia Beach EMS division chief, witnesses spotted the Navy jet dumping fuel just before the crash, and small amounts of fuel was found on buildings and vehicles around the crash site.

The Associated Press reports:

“The plane not having as much fuel on board “mitigated what could have been an absolute massive, massive fireball and fire,” Nedelka said. “With all of that jet fuel dumped, it was much less than what it could have been.”

3 unaccounted for after Virginia fighter jet crash

04/07/2012

 | Ashleigh Smollet, CityNews.ca


US Navy aircraft crashes into apartments [VIDEO]

US Navy aircraft crashes into apartments [VIDEO]

A US Navy fighter jet that malfunctioned just after takeoff crashed into apartment buildings in Virginia Beach, authorities said.

The two pilots – one student and his instructor managed to eject just before impact, suffering minor injuries along with five others on the ground. Remarkably, there were no initial reports of deaths after about 40 units in the complex were destroyed or damaged by flames.

Some residents still had not been located, officials said, but it’s possible they weren’t even home when the F-18 Hornet exploded into the Mayfair Mews Apartments, bursting into bright orange flames.

Virginia Beach Fire Department Capt. Tim Riley said crews had done an exhaustive search of about 95 percent of the apartment complex and would continue searching throughout the night.

“We consider ourselves very fortunate,” he said.

Moments before, the airplane was seen flying too low, trailing smoke and flames. Witnesses watched as the two pilots ejected from the aircraft.

Bruce Nedelka, the Virginia Beach EMS division chief, said that witnesses saw fuel spilling from the jet before it went down and that fuel was found on buildings and vehicles in the area.

The crash happened in the Hampton Roads area, which has a large concentration of military bases, including Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval base in the world.

Admiral John Harvey Jr, commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces, praised the “heroic response” of those at the complex and emergency personnel who took care of the air crew and others at the scene.

No deaths in Navy F/A-18D crash – WAVY

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY/AP) – Authorities in Virginia Beach say they consider themselves fortunate after a Navy Jet slammed into an apartment complex.

Witnesses say the plane dumped fuel before the crash after an apparent malfunction.

According to the Virginia Beach Fire Dept. Battalion Chief Tim Riley, they have no reports of missing people.  At one point, investigators believed three people were unaccounted for.  Riley says the three missing people turned out to be misinformation and the apartment had been vacant before the crash.

Seven people were injured, including the pilot and co-pilot, who ejected.

Riley said early Saturday morning that crews had done an exhaustive search of about 95 percent of the apartment complex.  He said crews have been through every building in the Mayfair Mews Apartments and no victims have been found.

Crews searched through the rubble after an F/A-18D jet crashed into an apartment complex in Virginia Beach Friday afternoon.

The crash happened just after noon when the aircraft suffered “ catastrophic mechanical malfunction ” shortly after takeoff, according to Captain Mark Weisgerber, Deputy Commander for the Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic. Both pilots were forced to eject from the jet, which then crashed into the Mayfair Mews Apartments off of Fleming Drive.

Weisgerber added the pilot in the front seat was a student, while the back seat was occupied by an experienced instructor.

Virginia Beach Police responded to the scene and went door to door at the apartment complex to see if any residents were in their homes, Grazie Moyers with VBPD told WAVY.com.

As soon as first responders arrived on scene, Virginia State Police closed Interstate 264 in both directions, causing quite a traffic backup. Traffic cameras from the Virginia Department of Transportation showed thick, black smoke billowing up from the crash site.

All lanes of I-264 were back open at 3 p.m. Friday.

The American Red Cross is offering assistance to those affected by the crash .

A shelter at Birdneck Elementary School closed Saturday, according to a news release, after the city reported the 26 people who took shelter there found other places to stay. Displaced residents were scheduled to meet with the American Red Cross and the Navy on Saturday afternoon.

The City of Virginia Beach Animal Care and Adoption Center is also taking in family pets.

Virginia Beach Fire officials said there were no fatalities reported.

The Navy will start providing damage claims forms Saturday to those impacted by Friday’s crash. Click here for details.

Stay with WAVY News 10 on air and online for complete coverage of the Navy jet crash.

Jet crash in Virginia Beach fiery, not deadly

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Zooming along at 170 mph in a fighter jet carrying thousands of pounds of volatile fuel, two Navy pilots faced nothing but bad choices when their aircraft malfunctioned over Virginia’s most populated city.

“Catastrophic engine system failure right after takeoff, which is always the most critical phase of flying, leaves very, very few options,” said aviation safety expert and decorated pilot J.F. Joseph. “You literally run out of altitude, air speed and ideas all at the same time,” he said.

Somehow, however, the student pilot and his instructor and everyone on the ground survived Friday when the men ejected from their F/A-18D jet moments before it crashed in a fireball in an apartment complex courtyard. The pilots and five on the ground were hurt, but all but one aviator were out of the hospital hours later.

Crews had carefully checked 95 percent of the apartments under the charred rubble and only three people remained unaccounted for early Saturday, said fire department Capt. Tim Riley.

Crews would continue searching just in case.

“We consider ourselves very fortunate,” Riley said.

The airmen from Naval Air Station Oceana, less than 10 miles away, were able to safely escape the aircraft, which weighs up to 50,000 pounds fully fueled and armed, before it careened into the apartment complex, demolishing sections of some buildings and engulfing others in flames. Some 40 apartment units were damaged or destroyed. Military authorities are investigating what happened.

The two-seat F18 Hornet had dumped loads of fuel before crashing, though it wasn’t clear if that was because of a malfunction or an intentional maneuver by the pilots, said Capt. Mark Weisgerber with U.S. Fleet Forces Command.

Virginia Beach EMS division chief Bruce Nedelka said witnesses saw fuel being dumped from the jet before it went down, and that fuel was found on buildings and vehicles in the area.

The plane not having as much fuel on board “mitigated what could have been an absolute massive, massive fireball and fire,” Nedelka said. “With all of that jet fuel dumped, it was much less than what it could have been.”

While Joseph agreed the fuel loss could have been tied to the malfunction, he added, “I would say every action they took was an attempt to mitigate damage on the ground, up to and including the loss of life.”

The aircraft can carry up to 8,000 pounds of jet fuel, Joseph said.

The crash happened in the Hampton Roads area, which has a large concentration of military bases, including Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval base in the world. Naval Air Station Oceana, where the F/A-18D that crashed was assigned, is located in Virginia Beach. Both the pilots were from Virginia Beach, Weisgerber said.

Weisgerber said he did not know how many times the student pilot had been in the air, but that the instructor was “extremely experienced.”

Joseph said the airman being trained would have had 1 years of intensive training before he would take flight from Oceana.

“This is not a student naval aviator. They are well-trained,” he said. “The mitigating factor in this is there was an eminently well-trained and qualified trainer in the back seat.”

Dozens of police cars, fire trucks and other emergency vehicles filled the densely populated neighborhood where the plane crashed. Yellow fire hoses snaked through side streets as fire crews poured water on the charred rooftops of brick apartment houses. By late afternoon, the fire had been put out.

Residents of the apartment complex described a confusing scene and an apologetic pilot.

Colby Smith said his house started shaking and then the power went out, as he saw a red and orange blaze outside his window. He ran outside, where he saw billowing black smoke and then came upon the pilot as he ran to a friend’s home.

“I saw the parachute on the house and he was still connected to it, and he was laying on the ground with his face full of blood,” Smith told WVEC-TV.

“The pilot said, ‘I’m sorry for destroying your house.’”

Smith said he and another man helped the pilot onto the street.

Patrick Kavanaugh, who lives in the complex where the jet crashed, opened up his sliding glass door after hearing a loud explosion and saw one of the jet’s pilots on the ground with blood on his face. Kavanaugh said the pilot, whom he described as a “young boy,” was very upset and apologetic.

“The poor guy was in shock. I checked for broken bones and opened wounds,” said Kavanaugh, who spent 23 years in the rescue squad and retired in 1996.

Despite having suffered several heart attacks and open-heart surgery, Kavanaugh said his old rescue skills kicked in as he dragged the pilot around the corner and away from the fire before several other explosions occurred.

Those who took shelter at a nearby school tended by the Red Cross wondered what they’d find on their return.

Charles Bisbee Jr., 70, said one his sons, Charles III, is wheelchair bound and needs a place to rest, along with some medical supplies.

“We were going to give my son lunch, and just heard this crash, then another crash, then something exploded,” Bisbee said. “We got outside, and the pilot was laying on the ground with his chute on.”

He said some bystanders ran over and cut the parachute cords and tended to the pilot, “a young guy, and he was upset.”

A fighter jet crashed in December 2008 while returning to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar after a training exercise in a San Diego neighborhood. That crash killed four members of one family and destroyed two homes.

The Marine Corps said the jet suffered a mechanical failure, but a series of bad decisions led the pilot — a student — to bypass a potentially safe landing at a coastal Navy base after his engine failed. The pilot ejected and told investigators he screamed in horror as he watched the jet plow into the neighborhood, incinerating two homes. A federal judge ordered the U.S. government to pay the family nearly $18 million in restitution.

Most flights from Naval Air Station Oceana are training flights, Weisgerber said.

Joseph, a former airline pilot and retired Marine colonel and naval pilot, said the F/A-18D has been “an incredible success” for the Navy and Marine Corps. They are used in training and in combat, and a half-dozen or more countries use them.

Joseph said he expects the Navy will quickly determine what brought the jet down.

“I’ve investigated hundreds of accidents,” he said. “Even better than the black box on the airlines or the cockpit voice recorders are two healthy and alive crewmembers who are going to vividly describe what their observations were at the time.”

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