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F-18 Fighter Jet Crashes Into Virginia Apartment Complex

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  • by Leebert (1694) * on Friday April 06, 2012 @06:40PM (#39602781)

    Even if you only count one apartment building demolished, the F-18 still has a better combat record than the F-22.

    (I only joke because there were no fatalities!)

    • by kanto (1851816) on Friday April 06, 2012 @06:57PM (#39602901)

      Even if you only count one apartment building demolished, the F-18 still has a better combat record than the F-22.

      (I only joke because there were no fatalities!)

      The F-18, now also fitted as a suburbian domicile buster.

    • by DesScorp (410532)

      the F-18 still has a better combat record than the F-22.

      (I only joke because there were no fatalities!)

      And this will remain the case as long as F-22's are so expensive... around $150 million apiece, flyaway... that we're reluctant to risk them in, you know, actual combat.

      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        It's not the cost that stops deployment, it's the lack of need of deployment. F-22 is a fighter plane, not a multirole fighter/attack plane which is what is needed in modern world.

  • Duh McDuhface (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cazekiel (1417893) on Friday April 06, 2012 @06:42PM (#39602787)

    The coverage of this was nuts. The TV in my restaurant had some idiot reporter asking someone who was there asking him, "What's the chaos like? Were there people scattering?" #1, it's a sure bet she wanted to say BODIES scattering, an #2, if not, then the question is one of the dumbest I'd ever heard. That's like asking, "Is everyone standing there in harm's way, or fleeing in terror?"

    • Re:Duh McDuhface (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday April 06, 2012 @08:16PM (#39603503) Journal
      The idea that the medium is the message is overblown; but it certainly shapes the message. Unfortunately, TV gets all the wrong shaping.

      In order to take advantage of the 'live' nature of the medium, the station is effectively required to field somebody to stand at the scene and make noises while facing the camera as soon as humanly possible. Regardless of whether they know anything useful, and regardless of whether they could spend the camera time learning something useful to bring back to the camera. At one time, this did have the virtue of ensuring a camera at the scene; but cheap silicon sensors have basically covered that now. Since they don't actually know anything of use, they generally fill their time by asking unutterably stupid questions. Since that is boring, they'll have to elicit some emotion or 'reaction' so that the audience doesn't glaze over and change the channel.

      Even better, after the big kids have had time to sift through the details, airtime is too limited(and broadcast video not terribly information dense) for those details to be presented in any comprehensive or coherent way. Instead, you generally get a brief summary "Pilot Error!/Mechanical Failure!/Search For Answers Continues!" followed by some emotive human-interest stories.
    • The one i love is where the reporter shows up at school where a few kids were shot and killed and the reporter asks the friends "And how are you feeling right now?"

      stupidest question ever. What response are they expecting?
      "Why, we are sad, because they got out of taking the test and we didn't. Boo hoo for us, but we are happy for the dead kids!"
      • by bdwoolman (561635) on Friday April 06, 2012 @11:33PM (#39604361) Homepage

        That is how George Will labeled this kind reporting. The bottom feeders have even gotten worse since he issued his indictment of this vile practice. Mr Will and I share few political ideas. But he was spot on with this characterization. I think of it every time I see one of these savage reports.

        "So, your son died in a friendly fire incident in Kabul this morning. How does this make you feel, Mrs ________?"

    • Re:Duh McDuhface (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Saturday April 07, 2012 @04:38AM (#39605173)

      Well, you know what says a lot about the pilots? They ejected as close to the last second as possible. When you have a rocket chair that leads to instant safety, it's gotta be pretty goddamned hard not to take that option when you know shit hit the fan.

      But they didn't. They got the plane under control as best they could and only ejected when crashing was practically imminent.

  • Conspiracy (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 06, 2012 @06:43PM (#39602801)

    We all know it was an inside job by the owners of the apartment complex who just wanted to build more expensive real estate without having to actually pay for it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sjames (1099)

      They heard someone in the complex was hiding yellow cake in the kitchen.

  • Hmm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lightknight (213164)

    Anyone have an idea why this happened? Pilot error? Mechanical failure?

    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Informative)

      by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp.Gmail@com> on Friday April 06, 2012 @06:58PM (#39602913) Homepage Journal

      Anyone have an idea why this happened? Pilot error? Mechanical failure?

      A witness was quoted as saying that the engine sounded like it was dying. The problem there is that the Hornet is a twin engine plane. If it was an engine going out, then they could have just shut it down and flew home on the remaining engine. The Navy has had a policy of two engines for decades now precisely because of the safety factor (and this is why there's some grumbling about the F-35C being a single engine bird). Unless it was the world's biggest birdstrike and FOD-ed up both intakes, it had to be something else... loss of power, internal fire, something.

      • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Nidi62 (1525137) on Friday April 06, 2012 @07:07PM (#39602985)
        There was also apparently a fuel dump. So, either the student pilot hit a wrong button, or when they say "catastrophic mechanical failure", catastrophic is probably not an exaggeration.
        • What student pilot? (Seriously, I cannot find mention of a student pilot, except in reference to a similar accident that occurred but they were referring the a student pilot in the previous incident in that case). I'm not saying you're wrong or making it up, I'm just looking for where you read that there was a student pilot.

        • There was also apparently a fuel dump. So, either the student pilot hit a wrong button, or when they say "catastrophic mechanical failure", catastrophic is probably not an exaggeration.

          Just a guess, but maybe they dumped fuel in order to incinerate as little as possible of the crash site? It might even make sense for the flight computer to do this automatically if it predicts an imminent crash.

          • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

            by blackicye (760472) on Saturday April 07, 2012 @03:00AM (#39604969)

            There was also apparently a fuel dump. So, either the student pilot hit a wrong button, or when they say "catastrophic mechanical failure", catastrophic is probably not an exaggeration.

            Just a guess, but maybe they dumped fuel in order to incinerate as little as possible of the crash site? It might even make sense for the flight computer to do this automatically if it predicts an imminent crash.

            They primarily dump fuel to reduce weight, and increase manoeuvrability, the flaming inferno factor usually comes in last.

        • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Daniel Phillips (238627) on Friday April 06, 2012 @09:42PM (#39603935)

          There was also apparently a fuel dump...

          I will guess that the fuel dump was intentional, a (successful) attempt to limit the severity of damage, knowing that the plane was going down.

        • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Informative)

          by slimjim8094 (941042) <[slashdot3] [at] [justconnected.net]> on Friday April 06, 2012 @09:57PM (#39603981)

          You may have been alluding to this, but it's standard procedure (even in civilian aircraft) to dump fuel when landing after a failure on takeoff. It reduces the landing weight (which is usually lower than the takeoff weight by a surprising amount; the extra weight is fuel intended to be burned), but also reduces the size of a fire ignited by a crash. Thus, one of the first things he would have done if he'd had engine problems would be dumping fuel.

        • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Informative)

          by sjames (1099) on Friday April 06, 2012 @11:16PM (#39604261) Homepage

          Dumping fuel is a normal procedure if you're going to make an emergency landing (to lighten the load) or expect to crash (to minimize the fire)

      • Indeed. I thought it rather odd that a Hornet would drop from the sky. It's an older plane, so one would think any teething issues have long since been worked out. Still...both engines suddenly going out? Someone else forget one of those cleaning rags in the fuel line?

         

      • by jpmorgan (517966)

        There's been quite a few F-18 accidents in recent years. Despite being a two engine plane, it seems there are a lot more mechanical failures than the single engine F-16.

        • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 06, 2012 @08:30PM (#39603569)

          There's been quite a few F-18 accidents in recent years. Despite being a two engine plane, it seems there are a lot more mechanical failures than the single engine F-16.

          Two engines == twice as many engines to fail. Just less likely to crash when one does.

      • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

        by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Friday April 06, 2012 @08:15PM (#39603489)

        A witness was quoted as saying that the engine sounded like it was dying. The problem there is that the Hornet is a twin engine plane. If it was an engine going out, then they could have just shut it down and flew home on the remaining engine.

        The accident happened during (or shortly after) take-off. Anyone know if an F-18 *needs* both engines at that time. BTW, I live in Virginia Beach and the crash happened less than 5 miles from both my house and office. Obviously, the area (Birdneck Road and I-264) is a mess at the moment...

        • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Interesting)

          by PPH (736903) on Friday April 06, 2012 @10:57PM (#39604187)
          It was pointed out on an aviation site (and visible in a Gizmodo photo [gizmodo.com] that the engine nozzles are set asymmetrically (left side is closed down, right is opened up). So this could indicate a problem with one (the right?) engine.
        • From what I have been told by the knowledgeable in previous discussions is that civilian twin engine aircraft are designed to function on one engine, so it is a sure bet that military ones are as well. The only case I can think where this mightn't apply is if the aircraft had a full combat load, but this was a training flight.

          From the fact that people could hear a failing engine it is likely that both engines failed one after the other (eg catastrophic turbine failure leading to the other engine being damag

      • Some flavors of engine failure could spread, when a turbine sheds a blade, say, that part tends to go slicing off in some direction with considerable enthusiasm for its new career... If you are lucky, it chooses a direction away from anything important.
      • Turbine blades go shooting out all over, ripping apart anything nearby. Often this takes out hydraulic systems and rips open fuel tanks. Note that the F/A-18 engines are unusually close together. (compare with F-14 for example) I think one could easily wipe out the other. Metal fatigue is a likely cause, as well as the commonly mentioned bird strike. Wikipedia has a great list of uncontained engine failures: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncontained_engine_failure [wikipedia.org]

      • The problem there is that the Hornet is a twin engine plane. If it was an engine going out, then they could have just shut it down and flew home on the remaining engine.

        It can fly on one engine if one fails while cruising. During takeoff, when the plane is still accelerating to cruising speed, it can't get by on just one. If it could, do you think the Navy would be wasting both the expense, weight, and fuel necessary to purchase and fly around completely unecessary engines?

        • by drerwk (695572)
          Each engine on an F-18 can produce thrust equal to about 1/4 max takeoff weight. I'd be shocked if that was not sufficient to get the plane off the ground given enough runway. Since it was already air born one engine should be plenty to get an F-18 back into the pattern. Consider this is a plane that can do Mach 1.8 - and rotation (takeoff) speed is likely less than 150 mph fully loaded. So that second engine is not so much for takeoff as for Mach cruise at 40,000 ft.
      • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Informative)

        by ckedge (192996) on Friday April 06, 2012 @09:46PM (#39603945) Journal

        > If it was an engine going out, then they could have just
        > shut it down and flew home on the remaining engine

        It's not so simple at takeoff and landing, any time you are below or near low speeds and at low altitudes things get very very complicated.

        http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/AERO.2000.878212 [doi.org]
        http://www.pprune.org/archive/index.php/t-58841.html [pprune.org]

        In summary - in theory you can always save the day. In reality -- one mistake, and you're going down hard.

    • by dclozier (1002772) on Friday April 06, 2012 @07:00PM (#39602931)
      I really don't think our well trained pilots would ditch into a populated area so my guess is mechanical failure. (along with gravity and the pilot struggling to keep civilians out of harms way)
      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday April 06, 2012 @08:26PM (#39603549) Journal
        The ejector seats definitely separated from the aircraft before it hit the ground, so they must have ditched; but I get the impression that fighter jets don't give you very much "we'll just glide along for a while until we find something that looks nice and open" time once the thrust goes out so they quite likely didn't have much choice about location.
        • by Apothem (1921856)
          I wish I had mod points just simply because you really did put it best. Everyone keeps saying you could totally coast, but if you actually READ TFA, you'll see how close the crash is and just simply how obvious it is that the situation occurred shortly after takeoff.
    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Funny)

      by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday April 06, 2012 @07:12PM (#39603021) Homepage

      Anyone have an idea why this happened? Pilot error? Mechanical failure?

      Gravity.

    • by Kneo24 (688412)
      The article indicates possible mechanical failure from eye witness accounts. This just happened today, so it will be sometime before an official report is.
  • Okay, fine (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Friday April 06, 2012 @06:44PM (#39602809)
    I bullshit you not, this is a 100% true story. A friend of mine just got a small apartment complex construction approved by the city and county and the nearby airport denied it because it's in some kind of zone. It's not even the 2-story part, it's a density thing. If it was spread out houses, they'd approve it but having that many people that close together is a safety hazard if a plan were to miss the runway and crash. It was over a mile from the front of the runway by the way. So anyway, they were appealing the decision because "how often do planes randomly crash into apartment complexes next to airports." I have a feeling they're about to either drop the appeal or lose.
    • by geekmux (1040042)

      I bullshit you not, this is a 100% true story. A friend of mine just got a small apartment complex construction approved by the city and county and the nearby airport denied it because it's in some kind of zone. It's not even the 2-story part, it's a density thing. If it was spread out houses, they'd approve it but having that many people that close together is a safety hazard if a plan were to miss the runway and crash. It was over a mile from the front of the runway by the way. So anyway, they were appealing the decision because "how often do planes randomly crash into apartment complexes next to airports." I have a feeling they're about to either drop the appeal or lose.

      Going to drop an appeal that likely cost thousands because of a single recent incident? He would probably be stupid to do so.

      Here, let me prove my point. When was the last time we heard of a fighter jet crashing into an apartment complex? I can think of a dozen other reasons the permit would be denied that would be a hell of a lot more "in-your-face" issues than events that mirror meteor strikes in probability.

      • When was the last time we heard of a fighter jet crashing into an apartment complex?

        About 11 years ago, on September 11 2001? Well, it wasn't an apartment complex as such, but it was definitely a fighter (commandeered) jet.

        • Re:Okay, fine (Score:4, Interesting)

          by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Friday April 06, 2012 @07:35PM (#39603197)

          About 11 years ago, on September 11 2001? Well, it wasn't an apartment complex as such, but it was definitely a fighter (commandeered) jet.

          It's not a crash if you "land" exactly where you planned to. Well I guess technically it is but only in the way suicide is technically murder.

        • by geekmux (1040042)

          When was the last time we heard of a fighter jet crashing into an apartment complex?

          About 11 years ago, on September 11 2001? Well, it wasn't an apartment complex as such, but it was definitely a fighter (commandeered) jet.

          Er, since when did we start mixing fatality via sleep deprivation on the freeway with Charles Manson's criminal record in a potpourri of death statistics?

          Even a layman can see there is a large chasm separating a true accident from an intentional act of mass murder/suicide.

          And I've seen a lot of fighter jets perform. Regardless of who "commandeered" them, a commercial airliner has about as much "fighter" capability as my radium-powered smoke detector has "nuclear" capability.

          • Your reply illustrates the classic problem when estimating failure probabilities: Instead of being inclusive, you try to fix a narrow definition that represents a failure event, which causes your final probability estimates to be too low. This also happens with nuclear disasters and black swan type market crashes, etc.

            I would suggest that your original question "When was the last time we heard of a fighter jet crashing into an apartment complex?" is badly posed. It's too specific to be truly useful, and

            • by sjames (1099)

              It's equally a mistake to lump things together, it obscures the potential effectiveness or ineffectiveness of countermeasures. For example, it would be a mistake to not include a proximity alarm just because it won't prevent a deliberate crash. It would likewise be foolish to act as if a proximity alarm is at all effective in the case of a deliberate crash.

              Likewise, a lock on the cockpit door goes a long way to addressing a terrorist risk but is completely useless for the case of pilot and copilot losing si

  • Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daetrin (576516) on Friday April 06, 2012 @06:50PM (#39602855)

    Both pilots and multiple civilians have been transported to a hospital.

    Gizmodo has lots of shiny pictures and more detail.

    Really Slashdot/Unknown Lamer? I've got a morbid sense of humor at times, and i'm not even saying i'm not interested in the pictures, but "lots of people are injured and some of them may die" and we've got "lots of shiny pictures" about it! seems a bit callous to me. I mean if it were actually part of some morbid joke it'd be fine, but it's not even a joke, it's just being totally insensitive for no good reason.

    • Re:Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Nidi62 (1525137) on Friday April 06, 2012 @07:02PM (#39602941)

      Both pilots and multiple civilians have been transported to a hospital.

      Gizmodo has lots of shiny pictures and more detail.

      Really Slashdot/Unknown Lamer? I've got a morbid sense of humor at times, and i'm not even saying i'm not interested in the pictures, but "lots of people are injured and some of them may die" and we've got "lots of shiny pictures" about it! seems a bit callous to me. I mean if it were actually part of some morbid joke it'd be fine, but it's not even a joke, it's just being totally insensitive for no good reason.

      From the linked CNN article:

      The two pilots, a police officer and three other people were treated and released at a hospital, except for one of the pilots, who was admitted, according to Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital. Both pilots, who live in Virginia Beach, are 'doing well and they suffered minor injuries,"

      So, hardly "lots of people", and hospitals usually don't treat and release people who "may die". I think you can lighten up a bit. You'd think it was your apartment they crashed into or something.

    • by Zapotek (1032314)
      So you're saying that it either was or wasn't a joke but if it was it'd be funny but since it may not be it's not funny. Do I even need a punchline here?
      • by Daetrin (576516)
        No, i'm saying if it were a joke it would be funny, but it definitely wasn't a joke. I've already pointed out in a previous response some comments where people _did_ make jokes and they _are_ funny, but the simple statement "there are shiny pictures" is not a joke.
  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Friday April 06, 2012 @07:11PM (#39603001) Homepage Journal

    The article I saw said that the aircraft dumped fuel before the pilots ejected, so that must have happed bloody fast. Commercial aircraft can't dump fuel that fast. My initial thought was to wonder why they didn't get back to a runway, if they had time to dump fuel like that.

    • by nschubach (922175)

      It's probably trained to instinct. If they have some catastrophic failure, all you have is instinct to go on... you need to be trained to "do this, this, this, and that." without thinking about it.

      • Yeah but how fast can that aircraft pump fuel out of its tanks? Very fast, apparently, like, in a couple of seconds.

    • Re:Dumped fuel? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 06, 2012 @07:31PM (#39603169)

      Just because they dumped fuel doesn't mean they dumped all of it. If it was a Super Hornet (media reports concerning aviation are always suspect), then it has the extra ability to refuel other aircraft in flight, which means they could probably dump fuel pretty quickly.

      The article also lauds them for dumping fuel to make the fire upon impact much less severe. I guarantee they were dumping fuel to reduce weight. This was (99% probability) an engine malfunction. In one of the picture you can see the left nozzle closed and the right nozzle wide open. They probably had a lot less thrust than they needed and were dumping fuel reduce the amount of thrust required for flight.

      Last, circling back to the runway that you took off almost never works. And it definitely isn't going to work in a thrust deficient situation in a fighter-type aircraft. You just don't have enough energy. I don't know how the Super Hornet works, but it may have also lost flight controls depending on the malfunction. I've never flown the F-18, but I have flown the T-38 (the Mig-28 in Top Gun, btw) which was a pig if you lost an engine and lost all flight controls if both motors died.

      Source: I am a USAF pilot.

      • Just because they dumped fuel doesn't mean they dumped all of it.

        But if it prevented a more serious fire they must have dumped most of their fuel. The aircraft would be fueled up on takeoff surely. Nobody wants air in their tanks.

        circling back to the runway that you took off almost never works. And it definitely isn't going to work in a thrust deficient situation in a fighter-type aircraft

        Maybe I am too accustomed seeing FA/18s climb out at 45 degrees from the runway. I suppose they don't do that routinely.

      • If it was a Super Hornet (media reports concerning aviation are always suspect), then it has the extra ability to refuel other aircraft in flight, which means they could probably dump fuel pretty quickly.

        The Super Hornet can only refuel other aircraft when it's carrying the centerline buddy store [wikipedia.org] - and no, they can't dump fuel via that route. (The valve at the end of the drogue is operated by the probe of the receiving aircraft. It cannot be operated remotely.)

      • Re:Dumped fuel? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 06, 2012 @09:47PM (#39603947)

        Navy pilot, I have flown the Hornet.

        Dumping was definitely to reduce gross weight. Just because some random guy on the street says "It would have been worse if he hadn't dumped his fuel" does not mean it's true. You can start dumping immediately, but it would take several minutes to dump enough to make a difference.

        The nozzles (Variable Exhaust Nozzles or VENs on the FA-18) change based on throttle setting. Actually it's a complex formula done by the engines control system to regulate things like EGT, EPR, and a bunch of other parameters. For simplicity an engine has the VEN near full open at idle, off, or max afterburner. The VEN is near closed at or near military power (full power without afterburner).

        Circling back to the runway you took off of works well if you have the thrust to get there. If you don't, it just doesn't matter. A normal sequence of events in case of loss of engine shortly after takeoff would be to go to max power, jettison stores and attempt to fly away straight ahead. Once you successfully get the airplane flying you have all sorts of options. The FA-18 flies pretty well on one engine as long as that engine is fully functional and you don't get yourself slow.

    • by Kneo24 (688412)
      Re-read your comment. Commercial aircraft can't dump fuel that fast. So why would this indicate that military aircraft couldn't?
      • Not saying it couldn't. Just saying that you would need a hellishly efficient fuel dump mechanism to make a difference in less than a minute. No doubt that is what they have.

    • why they didn't get back to a runway, if they had time to dump fuel like that.

      You can dump fuel from an aircraft with dead engines, or one that is otherwise unable to fly.

    • My initial thought was to wonder why they didn't get back to a runway, if they had time to dump fuel like that.

      Maybe the glide angle of an unpowered F18 is roughly 45 degrees?

  • by pbjones (315127) on Friday April 06, 2012 @07:11PM (#39603005)

    2 pilots that safely ejected, 1 person fainted, 1 police who was hurt while attending the scene, 2 for smoke inhaulation. It seems that the pilots knew that something was wrong and were dumping fuel before the crash. Quick thinking stopped a larger fire and the possibility of more casualties.

  • Any wagers on which conspiracy theories will have legs this time?

  • Early reports indicate the pilot was tweeting while coming in for a landing...
  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Friday April 06, 2012 @07:24PM (#39603115)

    I heard this in an interview from a VERY credible sounding woman on CNN. She must have been some sort of engineer the way she was meticulously recalling details without embellishment or the personal feelings commentary track.

  • Grim Factoid? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bob9113 (14996) on Friday April 06, 2012 @07:43PM (#39603251) Homepage

    FTFA:

    Update 3:31 PM EDT: The Virginian-Pilot points out another grim factoid about the Navy base in question today: There have been more than 25 crashes involving Navy aircraft on or near the base over the past four decades.

    That's grim? Less than one crash per year with people flying fighter jets? That seems like an outstanding safety record to me -- those things are twitchy and the pilots take them to the boundaries as a matter of proper training. Calling one crash per year "grim" strikes me as misleading and sensationalistic.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Indeed. A few months ago I was reading about the Royal Air Force in the 1950s, and some years they lost close to a thousand aircraft of various types; modern jets are so expensive that you can't afford to crash them at the rate we used to a few decades ago.

      • The RAF during the 1950's was involved in armed conflict around the globe: Egypt/Suez, what is now called Iraq, Malaya, Korea, and I'm sure there were others - as well as operations to support Berlin against the Russians. Most of those aircraft losses were in combat missions, not in training.
  • by nimbius (983462) on Friday April 06, 2012 @07:53PM (#39603329) Homepage
    United States military protocol, a press conference was announced later on in the day at which an amorphous "surge strategy" was announced and a commitment to peace in the region was renewed. Many analysts in the media blamed weather or mechanical failure, while fox news attributed the terrorist mechanical failure to Obamacare death panels.

    In response to media-fueled concerns and United States foreign policy
    the country then promptly invaded the neighboring state of North Carolina.
    • by cosm (1072588)
      Hey! We have Fort Bragg, Camp Lejeune, and what was Pope AFB. We can hold our own :)
    • by steelfood (895457)

      Actually, Fox said it was because those death panels got installed on the wrong side of the wing.

  • Perspective (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 06, 2012 @08:34PM (#39603603)

    Just to quell some of the more off-base but understandable conjecture. Disclaimer- I have no insider information on this particular mishap, but I am a retired Navy pilot.

    A Hornet can fly on one operating engine assuming the "good" one is not having a problem also.

    The engines are isolated from a control and fuel standpoint. There are relatively few malfunctions that could affect both. Most likely would be foreign object damage (FOD) most likely birds. There are some other possibilities I can think of, such as the pilot shutting down the wrong (good) engine. It has happened before. Maybe it wasn't shortly after takeoff and they were limping back on one engine and it failed. Maybe it was a massive fuel leak (he wasn't dumping).

    Dumping fuel would be normal to reduce gross weight following loss of an engine, particularly if it was shortly after takeoff (leads me to my speculation above). It wasn't done to reduce the amount of fuel for the fireball.

    The plane hit at relatively low energy (slow) probably 150kts or less (approach speed). If it was cruise speed (300-350) the wreckage would be much less intact. Witnesses reported the gear down.

    Looking at the pictures, the exhaust nozzle is open on one engine, closed on the other. Assuming that didn't happen on impact it means the engines were not doing the same thing. One was in afterburner or at idle, while the other was at or near mil.

    VFA-106 is the Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS). This is where new pilots transition from trainers to fleet aircraft (the FA-18). They are "replacement pilots" not "student pilots" in the traditional sense. They have wings, but are training in a new type aircraft.

    Encroachment around Oceana is horrible (or was, I assume it has not gotten better).

    • Maybe you can answer the one big question the press hasn't asked: why are military training missions being flown over densely populated civilian areas?

      Virginia is extremely close to the Atlantic Ocean - train all you want, the noise won't bother anyone, and malfunctions don't make news headlines.

      Isn't that why the largest US Navy base in the world is in Nevada?
  • by Mark of THE CITY (97325) on Friday April 06, 2012 @10:46PM (#39604163) Homepage
    I used to live in Poway (1969-1982), under the approach pattern for Miramar Marine Corps, formerly Naval, Air Station. I also went to university at [[UCSD]] on the west end of the station. There were accidents over the years, this one [gendisasters.com] especially bad as a single-engine [[F-8 Crusader]] lost power on approach, hit a hangar full of aircraft caught fire. I bet this tragedy and others figured into all subsequent Navy/Marines fighters having two engines. More recently, a [[2008 San Diego F/A-18 crash]] caused four civilian fatalities, following a (relatively rare) double-engine flameout. Most crashes were far less spectacular (ejections over open water or empty fields). Both Miramar and Oceana have more development now, adding to the danger.

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