Thursday, June 02, 2016

Thunderbirds & Blue Angels Crash Separately; Ft. Hood Soldiers Die

On June 2, 2016, fighter jets from the Air Force Thunderbirds and the Navy Blue Angels  crashed in separate incidents.

The Thunderbirds F-16 crashed south of Colorado Springs, Colorado, after a U.S. Air Force Academy commencement ceremony attended by President Barack Obama. Spokesman for the academy said the plane went down far from the ceremony and the pilot safely ejected. Obama later met with the pilot.

Hours later, a U.S. Navy Blue Angels F/A-18 crashed in Smyrna, Tennessee, during practice for an upcoming air show, Navy spokeswoman Cmdr. Jeanette Groeneveld said.
Groeneveld said the military doesn't have any immediate reports of injuries but is still waiting on news about the fate of the pilot. But Rutherford County Emergency Management Director Tharrel Kast told CNN one person died as a result of a plane crash.

Smyrna, Tennessee, was named after the ancient city of Smyrna, Turkey. Several explanations have been offered for Smyrna's name. A Greek myth derived the name from an eponymous Amazon named "Σμύρνα" (Smyrna), which was also the name of a quarter of Ephesus. This is the basis of Myrina, a city of Aeolis.

In inscriptions and coins, the name often was written as "Ζμύρνα" (Zmyrna), "Ζμυρναῖος" (Zmyrneos), "of Smyrna".

The name Smyrna may also have been taken from the ancient Greek word for myrrh, "smyrna," which was the chief export of the city in ancient times.


Meanwhile, also on Thursday, June 2, 2016, word out of Texas is that several Army personnel have died in a flood-related accident.

At least three soldiers were killed Thursday at Foot Hood in Texas when their truck overturned in a creek, according to the Army.

Rescue crews remained on the scene late Thursday afternoon. Six soldiers remained unaccounted for. Three other soldiers were rescued and taken to a local hospital where they were reported in stable condition.


Blue Angels Accidents and Deaths:
During its history, 26 Blue Angels pilots have been killed in air show or training accidents. Through the 2006 season there have been 262 pilots in the squadron's history, giving the job a 10% fatality rate.
29 September 1946 – Lt. Ross "Robby" Robinson was killed during a performance when a wingtip broke off his Bearcat, sending him into an unrecoverable spin.
1952 – Two Panthers collided during a demonstration in Corpus Christi, Texas and one pilot was killed. The team resumed performances two weeks later.
2 August 1958 - Lt. John R. Dewenter landed, wheels up at Buffalo Niagara International Airport after experiencing engine troubles during a show in Clarence, NY. The Grumman F-11 Tiger landed on Runway 23 but exited airport property coming to rest in the intersection of Genesee Street and Dick Road, nearly hitting a gas station. Lt. Dewenter was uninjured, but the plane was a total loss.
14 October 1958 – Cmdr. Robert Nicholls Glasgow died during an orientation flight just days after reporting for duty as the new Blue Angels leader.
15 March 1964 – Lt. George L. Neale, 29, was killed during an attempted emergency landing at Apalach Airport near Apalachicola, Florida. Lt. Neale's F-11A Tiger had experienced mechanical difficulties during a flight from West Palm Beach, Florida to NAS Pensacola, causing him to attempt the emergency landing. Failing to reach the airport, he ejected from the aircraft on final approach, but his parachute did not have sufficient time to fully deploy.
2 September 1966 – Lt. Cmdr. Dick Oliver crashed his Tiger and was killed at the Canadian International Air Show in Toronto.
1 February 1967 – Lt Frank Gallagher was killed when his Tiger stalled during a practice Half Cuban 8 maneuver and spun into the ground.
18 February 1967 – Capt. Ronald Thompson was killed when his Tiger struck the ground during a practice formation loop.
14 January 1968 – Opposing solo Lt. Bill Worley was killed when his Tiger crashed during a practice double immelman.
30 August 1970 – Lt. Ernie Christensen belly-landed his F-4J Phantom at the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids with one engine stuck in afterburner. He ejected safely, while the aircraft ran off the runway.
4 June 1971 – CDR Harley Hall safely ejected after his Phantom caught fire and crashed during practice over Narragansett Bay near the ex-NAS Quonset Point in Rhode Island.
14 February 1972 – Lt. Larry Watters was killed when his F-4J Phantom II struck the ground, upright, while practicing inverted flight, during winter training at NAF El Centro.
8 March 1973 – Capt. John Fogg, Lt. Marlin Wiita and LCDR Don Bentley survived a multi-aircraft mid-air collision during practice over the Superstition Mountains in California.
26 July 1973 – 2 pilots and a crew chief were killed in a mid-air collision between 2 Phantoms over Lakehurst, NJ during an arrival practice. Team Leader LCDR Skip Umstead, Capt. Mike Murphy and ADJ1 Ron Thomas perished. The rest of the season was cancelled after this incident.
22 February 1977 – Opposing solo Lt. Nile Kraft was killed when his Skyhawk struck the ground during practice.
8 November 1978 – One of the solo Skyhawks struck the ground after low roll during arrival maneuvers at NAS Miramar. Navy Lieutenant Michael Curtin was killed.
April 1980 – Lead Solo Lt. Jim Ross was unhurt when his Skyhawk suffered a fuel line fire during a show at NS Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. LT Ross stayed with and landed the plane which left the end of the runway and taxied into the woods after a total hydraulic failure upon landing.
22 February 1982 – Lt. Cmdr Stu Powrie, Lead Solo was killed when his Skyhawk struck the ground during winter training at Naval Air Facility El Centro, California just after a dirty loop.
13 July 1985 – Lead and Opposing Solo Skyhawks collided during a show at Niagara Falls, killing opposing solo Lt. Cmdr. Mike Gershon. Lt. Andy Caputi ejected and parachuted to safety.
12 February 1987 – Lead solo Lt. Dave Anderson ejected from his Hornet after a dual engine flameout during practice near El Centro, CA.
23 January 1990 – Two Blue Angel Hornets suffered a mid-air collision during a practice at El Centro. Marine Corps Maj. Charles Moseley ejected safely. Cmdr. Pat Moneymaker was able to land his airplane, which then required a complete right wing replacement.
28 October 1999 – Lt. Cmdr. Kieron O'Connor, flying in the front seat of a two-seat Hornet, and recently selected demonstration pilot Lt. Kevin Colling (in the back seat) struck the ground during circle and arrival maneuvers in Valdosta, Georgia. Neither pilot survived.
1 December 2004 – Lt. Ted Steelman ejected from his F/A-18 approximately one mile off Perdido Key after his aircraft struck the water, suffering catastrophic engine and structural damage. He suffered minor injuries.
21 April 2007 – Lt. Cmdr. Kevin J. Davis crashed his Hornet near the end of the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort airshow in Beaufort, South Carolina, and was killed.
2 June 2016 – A Blue Angel F/A-18 crashed in Smyrna, TN.
Other incidents involving former Blue Angels
8 March 1951 – LCDR Johnny Magda, while flying in Korea, was the first former Blue Angel killed in combat.
27 January 1973 – CDR Haley Hall (1970 team leader) was shot down flying an F-4J over Vietnam, and was officially listed as missing in action.

Thunderbird Accidents

The Thunderbirds have performed at over 4,000 airshows worldwide, accumulating millions of miles in hundreds of different airframes over the course of their more than fifty-four years of service. Flying high-performance fighter jets is inherently dangerous; when flying in extremely close formation, the danger is compounded. The team has suffered three fatal crashes during air shows, two of them in jets:

The first was the death of Major Joe Howard, flying Thunderbird No. 3 (F-4E s/n 66-0321) on 4 June 1972 at Dulles Airport, during Transpo 72. His Phantom experienced a structural failure of the horizontal stabilizer, and Major Howard ejected as the aircraft fell back to earth tail first from about 1,500 feet and descended under a good canopy, but he landed in the aircraft fireball and did not survive.

The second death occurred 9 May 1981 at Hill AFB, Utah, when Captain David "Nick" Hauck flying Thunderbird No. 6 (T-38A) crashed while performing the hi-lo Maneuver. Capt Hauck crashed while attempting to land his ailing T-38 after an engine malfunctioned and caught fire. With black smoke billowing from the exhaust and the aircraft losing altitude in a high nose-up attitude, the safety officer on the ground radioed Capt Hauck: "You’re on fire, punch out!" To that, he responded: “Hang on... we have a bunch of people down there.” The aircraft continued to fight to stay airborne for about half a mile before hitting a large oak tree and a barn, then sliding across a field and flipping as it traversed an irrigation canal—ultimately erupting into a fireball just a few hundred feet from the runway's end. No one on the ground was injured, even though the accident occurred adjacent to a roadway packed with onlookers.

Air shows
Captain Chris Stricklin ejects from his F-16 at the Mountain Home AFB airshow on 14 September 2003.
24 September 1961: TSgt John Lesso of the Thunderbirds C-123 crew was killed when an Air Force C-123 carrying the Army Golden Knights, on which he was flight engineer, crashed during take-off at an airshow in Wilmington, North Carolina.
4 June 1972: Major Joe Howard, flying Thunderbird No. 3 (F-4 s/n 66-0321), was killed during the Transpo '72 airshow at Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia.
9 May 1981: Capt Nick Hauck was killed in the crash of Thunderbird No. 6 (Northrop T-38) during a low approach during an air show at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.
14 September 2003: Captain Chris Stricklin, flying Thunderbird No. 6 (F-16), crashed during an airshow at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. Immediately after takeoff, Stricklin attempted a "Split S" maneuver (which he had successfully performed over 200 times) based on an incorrect mean-sea-level elevation of the airfield, 1100 feet (335 m) higher than the home base at Nellis. Climbing to only 1670 feet (509 m) above ground level instead of 2500 feet (762 m), Stricklin had insufficient altitude to complete the maneuver, but guided the F-16C aircraft down the runway away from the spectators and ejected less than one second before impact. He survived with only minor injuries and no one on the ground was injured, but the $20 million aircraft was completely destroyed. Official procedure for demonstration "split S" maneuvers was changed, and the USAF now requires Thunderbird pilots and airshow ground controllers to both work in above-MSL(mean-sea-level) altitudes, as opposed to ground control working in AGL (above-ground-level) and pilots in MSL, which led to two sets of numbers that had to be reconciled by the pilot. Thunderbird pilots now also climb an extra 1000 feet (305 m) before performing the Split S maneuver.
20 August 2005: The Thunderbirds temporarily grounded themselves pending an investigation into a minor mid-air incident during the Chicago Air & Water Show. During the diamond pass in review, the tip of the missile rail on the right wing of the slot (#4) aircraft contacted the left stabilator of the right (#3) aircraft. A four-foot section of the missile rail snapped off, while the No. 3 aircraft sustained damage described by one of the Thunderbirds pilots as a "medium deep scratch" to the red paint of the stabilator. This is why the USAF Thunderbirds have taken extra precaution when flying their diamond, changing from about one and a half feet wingtip to canopy separation to around three feet. Still very close while going 450+ mph. They now fly as close as 18-inch Fuselage to Canopy separation during the arrowhead loop and roll. Amateur video showed the missile rail falling into the "safety box" on Lake Michigan away from boaters. While there were no injuries and the aircraft remained flight worthy, the demonstration was immediately terminated, all aircraft returned to Gary International Airport, and the Thunderbirds did not perform on the second day of the Chicago show. The right wing pilot (#3) was Major D. Chris Callahan, and the slot position (#4) was flown by Major Steve Horton.
2 June 2016: Colorado Springs, CO.
Other fatalities
11 December 1954: Capt George Kevil was killed during solo training at Luke in an F-84G.
26 September 1957: 1st Lt Bob Rutte was killed in solo training at Nellis.
9 October 1958: 19 men aboard the Thunderbirds' support C-123 were killed in a crash about 50 miles northwest of Boise, Idaho, while en route to McChord AFB, reportedly when the transport struck a flock of geese.
12 March 1959: Capt C. D. "Fish" Salmon was killed in solo training at Nellis.
27 July 1960: Capt J.R. Crane, advance pilot and narrator for the team, was killed during a solo proficiency flight at Nellis.
6 April 1961: Maj Robert S. Fitzgerald, Commander of the team, and Capt George Nial, advance pilot and narrator, were killed during a training flight at Nellis.
9 May 1964: Capt Eugene J. "Gene" Devlin was killed when his Republic F-105B broke apart as it pitched up for landing from a three-plane formation pass over Hamilton Air Force Base, California.
12 October 1966: Maj Frank Liethen and Capt Robert Morgan were killed in a collision of two F-100s during opposing Cuban Eights, their F-100F crashing, at Indian Springs Auxiliary Field in Nevada. The F-100D managed to land at Nellis AFB, despite wing damage.
9 January 1969: Capt Jack Thurman was killed in solo training at Nellis.
21 December 1972: Capt Jerry Bolt and TSgt Charles Lynn were killed during a flight test at Nellis.
25 July 1977: Capt Charlie Carter, Thunderbird pilot and narrator, was fatally injured during maneuvers at F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming.
8 September 1981: Lt Col David L. Smith, commander of the Thunderbirds, was killed when his aircraft ingested seagulls while taking off from Cleveland, Ohio. Lt Col Smith's T-38 crashed into Lake Erie, and although Lt Col Smith ejected from the a/c, his ejection seat malfunctioned and did not deploy his parachute (his crew chief successfully ejected from the rear cockpit).
18 January 1982: The "Diamond Crash", the worst training crash in Thunderbird history, occurred when Maj Norman L. Lowry, Capt Willie Mays, Capt Joseph N. Peterson, and Capt Mark Melancon were killed while practicing a diamond loop during training at Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field in T-38s.

No comments: