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Aug 15, 2012
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A pic of what's left of an F15. There appears to be a perfectly usable "fincan" lying about. Think the USAF reuses parts? ;)
Originally posted by Stones
A pic of what's left of an F15.

When and where did this happen? My guess somewhere in Europe by that look of the support vehicle........
Originally posted by Rocketmaniac
When and where did this happen? My guess somewhere in Europe by that look of the support vehicle........

Here's the writeup as posted by someone named elZee

F-15E Accident - Lakenheath

Just a quick note to give you guys a heads-up on the latest. We had a MAJOR Class
A mishap here 2 days ago. As our jets were returning home from a 7 week deployment
to Nellis, the last jet to land 96-203 (yes 1 of our brand new E-210 jets) blew
its left main tire immediately upon landing.

As a result, the jet (while still in its nose up roll out configuration) severely
listed and twisted to the left. At 150 knots that's not good! The jet slid
sideways, nose down, and as it carreened along the side of the runway, the front
end dug into the ground causing the jet to stand up on its nose. At that point,
the fuselage broke apart just forward of the intakes and aft of the rear cockpit
and then bent around and underneath the left side of the aircraft.

When the jet finally stopped, the radome had separated from the fuselage (which
now faced back towards the rear of the jet) and was laying about 20 feet away from
the wreckage. The nav pod and adapter ripped off and were buried nose down in the
ground. Basically the jet is trashed. The pilot received cuts, scrapes, and

The WSO didn't fair as well. Both his arms were broken and he also had numerous
cuts and bruises. Based on the wreckage, safety said the aircrew were lucky to be
alive. The wing is not flying the rest of the week.
ouch, man I didnt think anyone would have survived that, the way the cockpit was so damaged. The F15 is a great plane though, one of the best we have.
Originally posted by Ryan S.
ouch, man I didnt think anyone would have survived that, the way the cockpit was so damaged.

I would have thought the crew would have punched out....... I believe the ejection seats are zero-zero capable, meaning can be fired with zero altitude and zero airspeed.......
Originally posted by Ryan S.
ouch, man I didnt think anyone would have survived that, the way the cockpit was so damaged.

What cockpit?
Originally posted by WiK
What cockpit?
It's laying horizontal on the ground, tipped towards you.
Here's a closeup pic...
Looks like the cockpit broke away as it was designed to. Man, that must have been some ride!! 150knot tire blowout!! YIKES
I was just joking! But still that musta been a very scary experience. The only reason i could think of for not ejecting was that the the cockpit had rolled over so the top wasnt pointing upwards enough...
Originally posted by WiK
only reason i could think of for not ejecting was that the the cockpit had rolled over so the top wasnt pointing upwards enough...

Oh, I meant eject when the tire blew. After it turned over there was no choice but to ride it out...........
Well how long is there between the tire blowing and the plane going outta control like that?

And how many pilots sit there with theyre hands on the ejector button/handley for every landing?
Maybe you're right....... I just remember a RF-4C that landed in Korea....... The nosewheel broke and came up throught the cockpit........ Pilot punched out while skidding down the runway......... He almost landed on the Jet........
Originally posted by Rocketmaniac
I would have thought the crew would have punched out....... I believe the ejection seats are zero-zero capable

Sometimes, even with zero-zero seats, it is just preferable to ride the airplane rather than take a chance on a bad ejection. Sometimes, in a situation like that things happen so fast that there really isn't a chance to make a choice.
Not attempting to top Stones' story, but here is another along a similar vein. Prowlerguy, don't look (this may come too close to home). The rest of you, do you still think it's cool to be a jet jock?

So much for the thought of a boring refueling mission! This is a pretty amazing story.

Lieutenant Keith Gallagher's Account:

Murphy's Law says, "Whatever can go wrong, will, and when you least expect it." (And, of course, we all know that Murphy was an aviator.) Murphy was correct beyond his wildest dreams in my case. Fortunately for me, however, he failed to follow through. On my 26th birthday I was blindsided by a piece of bad luck the size of Texas that should have killed me. Luckily, it was followed immediately by a whole slew of miracles that allowed me to be around for my 27th. Not even Murphy could have conceived of such a bizarre accident (many people still find it hard to believe), and the fact that I am here to write about it makes it that much more bizarre.

We were the overhead tanker, one third of the way through cruise, making circles in the sky. Although the tanker pattern can be pretty boring midway through the cycle, we were alert and maintaining a good lookout doctrine because our airwing had a midair less than a week before, and we did not want to repeat. We felt we were ready for "any" emergency: fire lights, hydraulic failures and fuel transfer problems. Bring 'em on! We were ready for them. After all, how much trouble can two JO's get in overhead the ship? After my third fuel update call, we decided that the left outboard drop was going to require a little help in order to transfer. NATOPS recommends applying positive and negative G to force the valve open. As the pilot pulled the stick back I wondered how many times we would have to porpoise the nose of the plane before the valve opened.

As he moved the stick forward, I felt the familiar sensation of negative "G", and then something strange happened: my head touched the canopy. For a brief moment I thought that I had failed to tighten my lap belts, but I knew that wasn't true. Before I could complete that thought, there was a loud bang, followed by wind, noise, disorientation and more wind, wind, wind. Confusion reigned in my mind as I was forced back against my seat, head against the headrest, arms out behind me, the wind roaring in my head, pounding against my body. "Did the canopy blow off? Did I eject? Did my windscreen implode?" All of these questions occurred to me amidst the pandemonium in my mind and over my body.

These questions were quickly answered, and replaced by a thousand more, as I looked down and saw a sight that I will never forget: the top of the canopy, close enough to touch, and through the canopy I could see the top of my pilot's helmet. It took a few moments for this image to sink into my suddenly overloaded brain. This was worse than I ever could have imagined - I was sitting on top of a flying A-6!

Pain, confusion, panic, fear and denial surged through my brain and body as a new development occurred to me: I couldn't breathe. My helmet and mask had ripped off my head, and without them, the full force of the wind was hitting me square in the face. It was like trying to drink through a fire hose. I couldn't seem to get a breath of air amidst the wind. My arms were dragging along behind me until I managed to pull both of them into my chest and hold them there.

I tried to think for a second as I continued my attempts to breathe. For some reason, it never occurred to me that my pilot would be trying to land. I just never thought about it. I finally decided that the thing that I could do was eject. (What else could I do?) I grabbed the lower handle with both hands and pulled-it wouldn't budge. With a little more panic induced strength I tried again, but to no avail. The handle was not going to move. I attempted to reach the upper handle but the wind prevented me from getting a hand on it.

As a matter of fact, all that I could do was hold my arms into my chest. If either of them slid out into the wind stream, they immediately flailed out behind me, and that was definitely not good. The wind had become physically and emotionally overwhelming. It pounded against my face and body like a huge wall of water that wouldn't stop. The roaring in my ears confused me, the pressure in my mouth prevented me from breathing, and the pounding on my eyes kept me from seeing. Time had lost all meaning. For all I knew, I could have been sitting there for seconds or for hours. I was suffocating, and I couldn't seem to get a breath.

I wish I could say that my last thoughts were of my wife, but as I felt myself blacking out, all I said was, "I don't want to die." (Close up of Keith just after landing.) Someone turned on the lights and I had a funny view of the front end of an A-6, with jagged plexiglas where my half of the canopy was supposed to be. Looking down from the top of the jet, I was surprised to find the plane stopped on the flight deck with about 100 people looking up at me. (I guess I was surprised because I had expected to see the pearly gates and some dead relatives.)

My first thought was that we had never taken off, that something had happened before the catapult. Then everything came flooding back into my brain, the wind, the noise and the confusion. As my pilot spoke to me and the medical people swarmed all over me, I realized that I had survived, I was alive. It didn't take me very long to realize that I was a very lucky man, but as I heard more details, I found out how lucky I was. For example, my parachute became entangled in the horizontal stabilizer tight enough to act as a shoulder harness for the trap, but not tight, enough to bind the flight controls. If this had not happened, I would have been thrown into the jagged plexiglas during the trap as my shoulder harness had been disconnected from the seat as the parachute deployed.

There are many other things that happened, or didn't happen, that allowed me to survive this mishap, some of them only inches away from disaster. These little things, and a s-hot, level headed pilot who reacted quickly and correctly are the reason that I am alive and flying today. Also, a generous helping of good old-fashioned Irish luck didn't hurt.
Lieutenant Mark Baden's (pilot) Account of the Incident:

As we finished the brief, my BN (bombardier navigator - Keith Gallagher) told me that it was his birthday and that our recovery would be his 100th trap on the boat. To top it off, we were assigned the plane with my name on the side.

As we taxied out of the chocks, I was still feeling a little uneasy about all the recent mishaps. To make myself feel better, I went through the "soft shot/engine failure on takeoff" EPs (emergency procedures), touching each switch or lever as I went through the steps. "At least if something happens right off the bat, I'll be ready," I thought. The first few minutes of the hop were busy. Concentrating on the package-check and consolidation, as well as trying to keep track of my initial customers, dispelled my uneasiness.

As we approached mid-cycle, that most boring time in a tanker hop, we kept ourselves occupied with fuel checks. We were keeping a close eye on one drop tank that had quit transferring with about 1,000 pounds of fuel still inside. I had tried going to override on the tank pressurization, but that didn't seem to work. My BN and I discussed the problem. We decided it was probably a stuck float valve. Perhaps some positive and negative G would fix it. We were at 8,000 feet, seven miles abeam the ship, heading aft. I clicked the altitude hold off and added some power to give us a little more G.

At 230 knots I pulled the stick back and got the plane five degrees nose up. Then I pushed the stick forward. I got about half a negative G, just enough to float me in the seat. I heard a sharp bang and felt the cockpit instantly depressurize. The roar of the wind followed. I ducked instinctively and looked up at the canopy expecting it to be partly open. Something was wrong. Instead of seeing a two or three inch gap, the canopy bow was flush with the front of the windscreen. My eyes tracked down to the canopy switch. It was up. Moment of impact my scan continued right. Instead of meeting my BN's questioning glance, I saw a pair of legs at my eye level. The right side of the canopy was shattered. I followed the legs up and saw the rest of my BN's body out in the windblast. I watched as his head snapped down and then back up, and his helmet and oxygen mask disappeared. They didn't fly off; they just disappeared.

My mind went into fast forward. "What the hell happened?" I wondered. "I hope he ejects all the way. What am I going to do now? I need to slow down." I jerked the throttles to idle and started the speed brakes out. Without stopping, I reached up, de-isolated, and threw the flap lever to the down position. I reached over and grabbed for the IFF selector switch and twisted it to EMER. I was screaming "Slow down! Slow down!" to myself as I looked up at the airspeed indicator and gave another pull back on the throttles and speed brakes. The airspeed was passing 200 knots. I had been looking back over my shoulder at my bombardier the whole time I was doing everything else.

I felt a strange combination of fear, helplessness and revulsion as I watched his body slam around in the windblast. After his helmet flew off, his face looked like the people who get sucked out into zero atmosphere in some of the more graphic movies. His eyes were being blasted open, his cheeks and lips were puffed out to an impossible size and the tendons in his neck looked like they were about to bust through his skin as he fought for his life. At 200 knots I saw his arms pulled up in front of his face and he was clawing behind his head. For a moment, I thought he was going to manage to pull the handle and get clear of the plane. I was mentally cheering for him.

His arms got yanked down by the blast and I cursed as I checked my radio selector switch to radio 1. "Mayday, Mayday, this is 515. My BN has partially ejected. I need an emergency pull-forward!" The reply was an immediate, "Roger, switch button six." I switched freqs and said (or maybe yelled), "Boss (Air Officer), this is 515. My BN has partially ejected. I need an emergency full-forward!" I slapped the gear handle down and turned all my dumps on (in an effort to get slower, max trap never crossed my mind). The Boss came back in his ever-calm voice and said, "Bring it on in."

Checking out the BNAs I watched, the indexers move from on-speed to a green chevron I worked the nose to keep the plane as slow as possible and still flying. The plane was holding at around 160 knots and descending. My BN's legs were kicking, which gave me some comfort; he was not dead. But, watching his head and body jerked around in the windblast, being literally beaten to death, made me ill. I had been arcing around in my descent and was still at seven miles. The boss came up and asked if the BN was still with the aircraft. I think that I caused a few cases of nausea when I answered, "Only his legs are still inside the cockpit." It made sense to me, but more than a few people who were listening had visions of two legs and lots of blood and no body. Fortunately, the Boss understood what I meant.

As I turned in astern the boat, I called the Boss and told him I was six miles behind the boat. I asked how the deck was coming. He asked if I was setting myself up for a straight-in. I told him "yes." He told me to continue. It was then I noticed that my BN had quit kicking. A chill shot through my body and I looked back at him. What I saw scared me even more. His head was turned to the left and laying on his left shoulder. He was starting to turn grey. Maybe he had broken his neck and was dead. Bringing back a body that was a friend only minutes before was not a comfortable thought. I forced myself not to look at my bombardier after that. The front windscreen started to fog up about four miles behind the boat. I cranked the defog all the way and was getting ready to unstrap my shoulder harness so I could wipe off the glass when it finally started clearing. I saw the boat making a hard left turn. I made some disparaging remarks about the guys on the bridge as I rolled right to chase centerline.

I heard CAG paddles (landing signal officer) come up on the radio. He told the captain he would take the winds and that he needed to steady up. My tension eased slightly as I saw mother begin to leave her wake in a straight line. Coming in for landing I was driving it in at about 300 feet. I had been in a slight descent and wasn't willing to add enough power to climb back up to a normal straight-in altitude for fear I would have to accelerate and do more damage to my already battered BN. I watched the ball move up to red and then move slowly up towards the center. Paddles called for some rudder and told me not to go high. My scan went immediately to the 1-wire. I had no intention of passing up any "perfectly good wires." I touched down short of the 1-wire and sucked the throttles to idle.

The canopy shards directly in front of the BN's chest looked like a butcher's knife collection. I was very concerned that the deceleration of the trap was going to throw him into the jagged edge of the canopy. I cringed when I didn't immediately feel the tug of the wire. I pulled the stick into my lap as paddles was calling for altitude. I got the nose gear off the deck and then felt the hook catch a wire. I breathed a sigh of relief. Testing the spool-up time of a pair of J-52s as I rolled off the end of the angle was not the way I wanted to end an already bad hop. As soon as I stopped, I set the parking brake and a yellow shirt gave me the signal to kill my No. 2 engine. Immediately after that, I heard a call over the radio that I was chocked. I killed #1 and began unstrapping.

As soon as I was free of my seat (I somehow remembered to safe it), I reached over and safed the BN's lower handle, undid his lower koch fittings and reached up to try to safe his upper handle. As I was crawling up, I saw that his upper handle was already safed. I started to release his upper koch fittings but decided they were holding him in and I didn't want him to fall against the razor-sharp plexiglas on his side. I got back on my side of the cockpit, held his left arm and hand, and waited for the medical people to arrive. I realized he still was alive when he said, "Am I on the flight deck?" A wave of indescribable relief washed over me as I talked to him while the crash crew worked to truss him up and pull him out of the seat.

Once he was clear of the plane, they towed me out of the landing area and parked me. A plane captain bumped the canopy open by hand far enough that I could squeeze out. I headed straight for medical without looking back at the plane. Later, I found that ignorance can be bliss. I didn't know two things while I was flying. First, the BN's parachute had deployed and wrapped itself around the tail section of the plane. Second, the timing release mechanism had fired and released the BN from the seat. The only things keeping him in the plane were the parachute risers holding him against the back of the seat.
The crew of the F15 are blessed to have come away with only the injuries they had.
The story of the A6 brought me down memory lane.
I was an aircraft electrician many years ago assigned to an A6 squadron.
It was a training squadron that trained new pilots to fly these aircraft.
Being that I saw and heard of many incidents occuring.
One I witnessed myself was onboard ship.
Pilot came in to land and at the last moment was waved off. He throttled up and tried to get back into the air, but too late, his tailhook had grabbed the cable and when it got tight enough it slammed the aircraft down HARD!
The nose gear went right up through the fusalage.
Luckily the pilot and BN where not injured but it was a pretty scary experience.

Thanks for sharing these stories.

If any of you have read The Right Stuff, You probably remember thing about the good/bad angel.

There was a pilot who would get into impossible situations and miraculously escape. In one instance, he came in too low and hit the carrier fantail. Everyone thought he was dead. A few minutes later, there was a call up on deck. "Hey captain, it's dark down here, i cant see, and I think i hurt my ankle." The captain slammed the phone down, wondering who would pull such a prank. In a little bit, they recieved another call from the same guy who managed to establish the fact that he was indeed the one who had just crashed into the fantail.

The canopy had gone through the fantail, and he had managed to open it(i think) and got down into the storage area filled with aircraft engines. Talk about good luck!
Keith was famous in the VA/VAQ community. The PLAT camera footage is surreal, to say the least.

Were you with VA-128? If you were, then there is a chance we were in Whidbey at the same time. In-flight arrestments are a bitch, though.
I have heard about that story and that is rough.

about the ejecting thing, it would be hard to eject in such a time period, you have reaction time and G forces resisting you.....just some thoughts

I was in VA42. Va Beach.
The incident I refered to happened on board the Lexington not long before it was decomissioned.
Originally posted by powderburner
I heard a sharp bang and felt the cockpit instantly depressurize.

So Powder, in simple english...... what happened?
Well... back in the 70's... I was on the Franklin D Roosevelt CV-42
yes ...CV42. That old bird farm was comissioned at the end of
WW2!!! Originally a straight deck carrier, she had the angle deck added in the 50's. During the last 3 years before de-comissioning
we participated in east coast fleet operations and squeezed in
a 6 month Med. cruise before the fateful collision in the Straits of Messina, between Sicily and Itally.
I could fill TRF with amazing tales of the Heroisim of Navy and Marine Pilots in an era of (almost) peacetime. I say "almost"
because at the time there was no actual war going on. There
was still all sorts of "unrest" in the middle east even that far back that required a strong US presence in the Mediterranean.
We were the 1st Harrier Carrier! The AV8a's were still British.
They were still having troubles with things like blowing their tails and flaps off and suddenly crashing and things like that...
On a ship that was designed to land propeller aircraft, a bird as heavy and fast as an F4 was a "controlled crash" with every recovery. My favorite was the A3, a huge 707 looking sucker
filled with state of the art 70's electronics that barely missed the Island with the wing tip at every recovery!!!
The Roosevelt was only 999ft long with the catapult arresters extended. The A7 pilots seemed to have the easier time of it
since they were a little smaller.
In my grand total of less than a full year at sea, I personally
witnessed at least 1 Harrier crash, 1 A7 tanker go off the angle deck into the drink and An F4 crash and explode after snapping an arresting cable. And there are many other accounts of other aircraft that never came back.
The Harrier pilot was performing acrobatics for some visiting Itallian Diplomats and suddenly ejected for no apparent reason. The then unpiloted aircraft plunged into the water about a mile off the port side. The pilot was picked up by one of the helos (We called 'em ANGELS). He was fine. He said he saw a red light and he was outta there!!!
The A7 pilot landed safely after dumping the remainder of the 500 gallon wing tanks. When he throttled up to clear the angle deck, he later reported his throttle stuck and he chose to taxi
off into the water rather than into the parked refuelling aircraft forward. He was fine, as the empty wing tanks kept the bird afloat plenty long enough for a safe rescue. I have exact cooridinates in the Med. if anyone would be interested in going after it! He got a Metal !!
The F4 pilots were not so lucky.... We were doing touch & go's
off the east coast to Carrier Qual an air wing assigned to the FDR for the Med Cruise. On a landing attempt, the #3 arresting cable snapped but not until the F4 had been slowed too much.
A tremendous explosion rocked the ship as the plane disintigrated
off the port bow. After extensive searching all that I remember that was ever recovered was a piece of one of the flight helmets....
That was the incident that lead to a new regulation for the max # of strands that could be broken on an arresting cable cross deck pennant before being replaced.
I once asked one of the Lt. JG's that I stood Quarter Deck watches with what it was like landing on a carrier at sea. He said all pilots were absolutely nuts and he was no exception!
Our Pilots are all Hero's every day!!!!
Oh ,by the way, I had a lot of up front experience working out of the V2 division on the Flight Deck lighting, the video cameras and the "Ball" ( the Fresnel lens system). I even got a chance to be the Hook Runner once! Dr Don
Originally posted by Rocketmaniac
So Powder, in simple english...... what happened?

Randy, I am 90% guessing here--

If you look at the third photo, you can see the headrest of Lieutenant Gallagher's ejection seat next to his head. This tells me that the seat broke loose from its attachments and partially slid up the rails. The seat ejection motors did NOT fire, or you would have heard about it in Lieutenant Baden's account.

Failure of a mechanical seat-retention part would not surprise me, especially when you think about how old these airplanes are. The basic A-6 design has been around since the early 60's(?) and Grumman finished production several decades ago. Therefore, the 'youngest' that this airplane could have been is probably 20 years old. The A-6 resources are worked HARD, because it is the only real heavy strike/refuel asset left on the decks (don't get me started about the F-18 p.o.s.).

If the seat slid up during negative g (refer to the pilot's description of the maneuver to un-stick the fuel valve) and struck the canopy, it might have been a toss-up as to the outcome. If there was any sort of weak spot (fatigue from X thousand pressurization cycles), or a previously unknown crack, then all it would take is 400+ pounds of seat-n-pilot bumping into it. Whatever started it, the transparency obviously let go. Lt Gallagher was darn lucky that the aircraft had not been at a more normal attitude for just about any other mission, as the descent from 20K or 30K would have been far more severe.