Category Archives: Fighter Pilot

US Marines Ground all F/A-18s Following Crashes

The US Marine Corps ordered a safety stand down for all units of its (non-deployed) F/A-18s following a spate of Hornet crashes over the past few weeks:

The stand-down will provide “an operational pause for all [Marine Air Wings] not including deployed units,” said Capt. Sarah Burns, a spokesman for the Marines.

The pause will last one day and will be taken in the next seven days, Burns said. It will allow units to “discuss best practices and to look at ways to continue to improve,” she said.

Perhaps morbidly, the crashes appear to be creating Read more

Second F/A-18C Crashes in Nevada in as Many Weeks

Another F/A-18C, this one flown by the Navy (though on loan from the Marines), has crashed. The pilot ejected safely:

An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Wing Pacific, Detachment Fallon, crashed into an open field near Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada, at approximately 10:50 a.m. PDT. The Navy pilot, who is assigned to Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center, ejected safely from the aircraft…

This follows the crash last week of a Marine F/A-18 that Read more

Air Force Continues to Return Amputees to the Cockpit

wiseThe Air Force recently highlighted the story of Capt Christy Wise, who recently returned to the cockpit of an HC-130J after an above-the-knee amputation:

After an above-the-knee amputation and nearly 15 months of rehabilitation — learning to walk, run and fly again — Air Force Capt. Christy Wise, a 71st Rescue Squadron HC-130J pilot, was medically cleared to retake to the skies on July 22.

Wise is reportedly the sixth amputee to return to flying in the Air Force (among Read more

Marine F-18 Crashes in California, Pilot Killed

nortonThe US Marine Corps reported that Maj. Richard “Stranger” Norton died last week when his F/A-18C Hornet crashed in southern California. His unit was reportedly in training for an upcoming deployment. The news releases called for prayers for his family without further detail.

Articles reporting on the crash highlighted the Marine Corps’ concern that their pilots aren’t receiving sufficient training hours due to budget constraints, causing them to lose “proficiency,” though not technically be unsafe.

Though often taken for granted, Read more

Air Force Addresses Fighter Pilot Shortage. Again.

With a click-bait headline and the renewed vigor of a new Chief of Staff, the US Air Force is once again trying to deal with its “fighter pilot shortage.” In an article entitled “The US Air Force Is Short 700 Fighter Pilots. Here’s Our Plan to Fix That,” Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and new CSAF General Dave Goldfein said:

That [fighter pilot] shortfall is expected to grow from 500 to more than 700 pilots by the end of this fiscal year, a 21-percent gap between what we have and what we need to meet the requirements of our commanders around the world.

As in times past, the AF identified Read more

One Doolittle Raider Remains

Retired SSgt David Thatcher died yesterday in Montana. In 1942, Thatcher was a gunner on “The Ruptured Duck” — one of 16 B-25s that conducted what became known as the Doolittle Raid.

After his military career, Thatcher worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 30 years as a clerk and later a letter carrier. He retired in 1980. He stayed in contact with the surviving members of the Doolittle Raiders and attended nearly every reunion the group held through the Final Toast in November 2013.

Retired LtCol Richard “Dick” Cole, Doolittle’s co-pilot, is the last Read more

USAF Thunderbirds, USN Blue Angels Both Suffer Crash

A US Air Force Thunderbird crashed while returning to Peterson AFB in Colorado, following their performance over the graduation ceremony of the US Air Force Academy Class of 2016 — at which President Obama had just spoken.

Photos taken by local news crews indicate the F-16 appears to have slid inauspiciously along the ground — not unlike some other legends of aircraft that “crashed” but eventually flew again because they “crashed” so softly.

thunderbirdThe F-16 pilot, Major Alex Turner, ejected and appeared to be uninjured. He was apparently not confined to a hospital, as with most other pilots who eject. Rather, he met President Obama at Peterson.

At nearly the same time in Tennessee, a Navy Read more

Two F/A-18s Crash off North Carolina Coast

Two US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets crashed last Thursday during a “routine training mission” off the North Carolina coast. All four crewmembers ejected safely.

The Navy initially reported only that they crashed, though it was a reasonable conclusion they collided (as confirmed later by the Navy):

The fighters were based in Virginia Beach and collided about 10:40 a.m., said Navy spokesman Ensign Mark Rockwellpate. Witnesses reported seeing four parachutes floating down into the Atlantic after the incident.

As with every incident, the Navy will investigate the mishap and report on it at some point in the coming months.  Read more

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