Student crashes T-2C Buckeye trainer jet onto USS Lexington - video

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Student crashes T-2C Buckeye trainer jet onto USS Lexington - video

This student trying to land on a carrier got too low and slow while trying to wave off. The canopies flying in the air were jettisoned as other students on the deck exit their aircraft using emergency ground procedures.

Note the brave enlisted guy who keeps trying to save the pilot in spite of the flame and the well drilled flight deck crew who knew exactly what to do and started breaking out the firehoses instantly with almost zero confusion. The audio is the LSO's (Landing Signal Officer) frantic radio calls.

October 31, 1989

A young Navy pilot, attempting his first touch-and-go landing on the aircraft carrier USS Lexington, came in at the wrong angle and slammed into the ship's bridge structure Sunday afternoon, cartwheeling onto the deck in a fiery explosion that killed him and four others, according to eyewitness accounts.

As Ensign Steven E. Pontell, 23, of Columbia, Md., a Naval Academy graduate, roared toward the carrier in a T-2C Buckeye trainer jet, the shipboard observers noticed he was far to the right of the landing deck's center line. The landing signal officer began waving at the pilot and barking into the radio, "Power! Power! Power!" warning Pontell to abort the touch-and-go and accelerate, according to Navy officials.

"The nose pitched up and he lost control of his ability to fly the aircraft," the ship's skipper, Capt. C. Flack Logan, said during a press conference at the ship's Pensacola, Fla., homeport Monday.

With dozens of crew members and officers looking on from the deck and many others watching on the carrier's closed circuit television system, the plane flipped upside down and smashed into the ship's "island" structure that houses the bridge and other operations.

The jet sliced off the ship's speed control radar, left one fuel tank impaled on the structure's "Vultures' Row" observation deck and spewed debris over three other trainer jets preparing for takeoff, according to Lt. Roberta McCorkle, the training ship's public affairs officer.

The plane crashed to the deck in a ball of smoke and fire, killing the pilot, a civilian contractor and three crew members, and injuring 19 other crew members, officials said. Flight deck teams quickly extinguished the blazes, according to McCorkle.

"It was really a traumatic experience," she said. "People are really examining what the ship does. The Lexington trains by the syllabus. When winds are wrong, we don't fly. When seas are high, we don't fly. We've got students training to learn how to fly. We don't remember the last fatality. It's a real eye-opener for us."

The Navy has launched both accident and legal investigations of the incident, according to a Navy spokesman. The ship's pilot landing-aid television recorded the incident, even though the camera operator was knocked off her feet by the plane's impact.

All new Navy carrier pilots make their first shipboard landing on the Lexington's 889-foot deck, a frenetic site during training periods when aircraft are launched and land in rapid succession.

uss-lexington-crash.jpg - 23.9kb
By netchicken: posted on 7-3-2011

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