I was fortunate in my aviation career out in the filed I never witnessed nor had an aircraft mishap.
My own closest call was performing a fuel calibration on a P210. Backed just a little to close to the backside of the spinning prop. Close enough I felt it.
Likewise, I never witnessed an aircraft mishap. I was however tangentially involved in one. Everything below is real... Including the names.
An F-111E that was part of my squadron flew with a total of 12 practice munitions divided between two SUU-21 practice bomb suspension units. Dropped 11, and started a chain reaction that resulted in a bomb going off next to my next door neighbor.
For those who don't know about SUU-21s, it's a practice bomb release unit that uses spring-loaded hooks to hold and drop practice bombs. The bombs are pushed away by springs that are held in place by solenoids, it has a set of bomb bay doors to prevent accidents. There are 3 separate saving procedures: 1) Closed bomb bay (bombs can't be released even if the pickle button is pressed, due to physical lockouts). 2) Clips (with Remove Before Flight ribbons) on the outside of the SUU (these physically prevent the bombs from being released with the doors open). 3) Clips attached to the individual practice bombs that prevent the fuses from being depressed should the bomb be released/dropped.
When the bombs are delivered to the aircraft to be loaded, they have the clips on the fuses already attached. The crew chief had the remove before flight ribbons (and keeps any loose fuse clips when the plane is flying). The plane is loaded after being physical checks have been preformed, all clips are applied (6 for the practice bombs, 6 for each SUU (12 total, per SUU loaded)). When the pilot does the walkaround they inspect the SUU and the load of bombs, and remove the clips (giving them to the crew chief). Upon applying power, the bay doors are closed, and remain closed until the plane arrives at the weapons range, where they then are opened, the bombs are dropped according to the parameters of the mission (they can be released either individually, or all at one time (in a pattern that prevents them striking each other)) simulating a rolling bomb release. The bay doors are then closed, and the plane returns to base. On the ground, the bay doors may be closed, or opened, and upon powering off, any remaining bombs get their fuse clips installed. If the doors are closed those clips are not reinstalled, BUT the external clips should be installed in any station that has a live bomb (with the doors opened or closed).
The day of the incident, the plane flew with 12 bombs (6 BDU-33s (slick, 25 lb. practice bombs (simulating slick dumb bomb releases)(painted blue)) and 6 MK-106s (retarded, 5 lb. practice bombs (simulating MK-82 snakeye, or parachute retarded bombs (including practice nukes))(painted orange)). It dropped 11, with the last remaining bomb being a MK-106. FYI The practice bombs basically are loaded with a 12 gauge shotgun shell loaded with a powder marker, held in place by a cotter pin (which gets broken when the charge is fired). The unreleased bomb was on the inboard side, and thus the clips couldn't be installed (due to Foreign Object Damage (FOD) concerns). So, the bay doors were closed, and everything was safe. However, the crew chief didn't put in the external clip upon the aircraft being powered down. Still, no bomb could be dropped, so everything was still safe.
My load crew (Mid Shift) consisted of 3 people... The 1 man, the 2 man, and me, the 3 man. The 1 man being the most senior member of the crew. He would configure the aircraft to close the bomb bay doors and do the paperwork, whereas the 2man would safe any weapons, and perform the tasks related to removing it from one aircraft and hanging it on another. The 3 man primarily would drive the Jammer (MH-83 or (more often) a MJ-1) that would lift the weapons/SUUs to the weapons station being loaded, and transport SUUs between aircraft being flown the next day.
We were tasked to move the SUU from the aircraft that flew that day, and deliver it to the aircraft that would be flown the next day. The 1 man and the 2 man should have inspected the SUU to see if there were any weapons still loaded (a small metal pin visible inside a hole that could be blocked by the external clip should the station be live)(pin visible -> clip cannot be installed, bomb has been released. Pin hidden -> the hooks are still closed, bomb is still inside, and the external clip can be installed). Me, I just lower the SUU with the Jammer, and drive it to the next plane (no need to even get up out of the seat). I drove the SUU to the next aircraft, and we hung it "Functional Check Due" as standard operating procedure.
Dead Shift was supposed to: 1) Safe the plane (install any needed clips *AND* unload it (if needed). 2) Apply power and functional check the SUU. And 3) If the checks all work out, button up the panels and load the aircraft for its flight the next day. Their 1 man is up in the cockpit, configuring the aircraft. 2 man is supposed to be VISIBLY
inspecting the SUU, applying any clips needed, and releasing any practice bombs into the arms of the 3 man (if needed). the 3 man (in this case Sr Airman Billy Watson) who was supposed to be moving the next days load to the aircraft in preparation for actual loading. 2 man didn't look under the SUU. He reached inside, and due to muscle memory, was able to find each set of racks and lock them closed (while not feeling the bomb in the one rack that was still lock in place). Power is applied, and after checking stations 1-5, everything was normal... Then station 6 was pickled...
According to SSgt. Ramsay (the 1 man) he pressed the pickle button, and there was a loud bang. He then heard Billy cursing and yelling his head off, as he ran out of the shelter with blue smoke streaking out of his hair. Then the world went "blue". Billy was struck by the cotter pin fragment in his hearing protection, which knocked it halfway off his head. The fireball caught him in the face, singing his hair and his eyebrows (they eventually did grow back). Billy ultimately was lucky... He could have been blinded (or worse) by the cotter pin. As it was, he got 3 days paid leave to calm his nerves, and a new nickname (Billy (The Blue Streak
) Watson)(badump bump tiss). In the end everyone involved (myself included) was called in front of the base commander, and gave depositions. I don't know about anybody else being disciplined, however, SSgt Ramsay lost his line number to TSgt., and moved (by his request) to maintenance duties.
My personal close call occurred on a freezing, wet morning, in England...
I was driving a MJ-1 Jammer from one shelter to another, and going as fast as possible (the sooner I got there, the sooner I could get inside the truck and get warm). I came into the newly painted shelter going FAST
... But the floor had water (ice), and hydraulic fluid leaked all over the glossy painted floor. I hit the brakes... but instead of stopping, the wheels locked up, and I started to swerve... the side of the jammer BARELY
missed hitting the bomb bay doors (not one of the SUUs, the plane's actual bomb bay doors), and stopped just before it could strike the right hand tire (or my head could strike the intake). The crew chief was less than happy about it, but he understood, I had no way of knowing how slick that floor was, as the shelter had only just been reopened after being painted.
Later we'd occasionally do donuts in shelters when there was no aircraft present (f the conditions were right).