An explosion shook the San Diego neighborhood of University City yesterday afternoon when a U.S. Navy fighter jet crashed into a house. The pilot of the plane safely ejected, but a mother, child, and grandmother died when the plane hit their home, and another child is still missing. The crash occurred near Camp Kearny in Miramar, CA, home to the Navy's Top Gun fighter pilot school.
With smoldering wreckage still being collected from the crash site, the Navy said it is too early to determine the cause of the crash. According to Marine Corps spokesperson Corporal Francis Goch, the plane, an F/A-18D Hornet, was returning from training when the pilot radioed air traffic control about a problem, ejecting shortly thereafter.
"He radioed into air traffic control, he said he didn't know what the problem was," said Goch. "Right now they do not have enough information to determine a reason for the crash. They could still pull a piece of the wreckage out and say 'oh, it was this.'"
Many news reports, including the Associated Press story, focused on an aviation inspection bulletin issued by the Navy on October 23rd. The bulletin noted that some older-generation Hornets had stress fractures on the flaps on the front end of the wings. The bulletin led to 10 planes being grounded, and another 20 restricted to limited flight time, out of the 1,047 old-generation F-18s in the Navy fleet.
However, John Pike, Director of GlobalSecurity.org, believes that blaming the crash on a stress fracture of the sort highlighted in the inspection bulletin is premature and misleading. He compared it to the crash of the Concord in 2000, saying that a similar stress fracture warning had been issued about that plane, leading experts to blame the fractures for the crash, and not the metal debris that actually caused the problems.
"The plane has the routine aches and pains that come with combat aircraft," said Pike. "Unusual problems? No, this plane has normal problems."
Pike went on to say that given the amount of wear and tear on these planes, a couple of crashes a year would be expected. In fact, according to data provided by the Navy, including yesterday's crash, there were only four incidents in 2008 resulting in loss of a plane, loss of life, or over a million dollars in damages, below the yearly average of six for F/A-18s. But Pike stressed that the failure rate of the F/A-18 is no greater than the crash rate of other similar fighter planes.
The F/A-18D is a two-seat plane first produced for the Navy and Marine Corps in 1987. The planes are manufactured by Boeing Integrated Defense Systems and cost around $57 million apiece. F/18s models A through D are known as "legacy" models, as the Navy began replacing many of them with new F/A-18 E and F models in 1999.
"They're the workhorses of the fleet," said Navy spokesman Lieutenant Clayton Doss. Doss went on to add that legacy Hornets have flown for almost 6 million hours since entering service in 1980, with only 181 crashes. But the fleet is aging, and over half of the legacy F/A-18s have flown more than the 6,000 hours projected as their total use-life.
This is the first F/A-18 crash at Camp Kearny since 2006, when a plane went down on the east side of the base. In that crash, the pilot ejected safely and the plane crashed harmlessly into the desert below.
"Losing a couple of F-18s a year is normal," said Pike, "It's clearly the family that's the newsworthy component of it, unfortunately."
What a horrible article. Your ignorance of the cause and attempting to "make" the news can't be more blaringly incorrect.
I encourage EVERYONE to take a step back. Popular Science should be ashamed of themselves for giving this author a pulpit when he utilizes such self-serving sources like John Pike to publish such crap.
Pike is a speculator and disrespects the honor of the services he supposes he serves with his often inaccurate globalsecuirty.org.
A agree with the above comment and add a couple things of my own.
First, Camp Kearny? The airfield now known as Marine Corps Air Station Miramar was called Camp Kearny way back in World War I and World War II, changing into a Navy air station in the early 1960s, when it became known as "Top Gun," later made famous by the movie of that name.
The Top Gun school moved to Fallon, NV in 1993 when the Marines took over the Miramar base.
Not sure why this Stuart Fox guy dug out such ancient information for his lead, all it does is serve to confuse those who know the base best as Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
All John Pike said in the article was that assuming the failure of the aircraft before knowing the facts was improper. I don't see what is so objectionable about that line of reasoning. All aircraft like all cars have problems that occur through design flaw or manufacturing defect, people are fallible and hence so is that which they design. He goes on to say that losing F-18's is normal and that the family was the newsworthy component, insensitive maybe but I don't see anything to suggest in this article that he is pushing an agenda or somehow being "self serving".
Helodecicco you may have an opinion of Pike based on something else you have read or experienced and thats fair, but I hardly think that the author should be ashamed for quoting such a benign statement.
This is wildly speculative. Just because a bulletin was recently issued, that doesn't mean that aircraft are going to start falling out of the sky. The pilot was quoted as saying he had flown on one engine for more than 100 miles and then lost the second engine forcing him to eject. Leading edge stress fractures have absolutely nothing to do with engines or engine failure.
I totally agree with Ian1108. I can't imagine why anyone would find anything about this article offensive. Nobody declared anything, except to say that it's too soon to say anything declarative. Speaking of grand-standing, using these comments to express such misplaced hostility that has little to do with the article. The article said nothing negative or disrespectful about the armed forces in anyway, unless you're seriously offended by the use of the old name for Miranmar. Helodecicco, it sounds to me like you have some obvious personal grievances against John Pike that cannot realistically be attributed to this article. Maybe you could give some examples if you believe him to be a less than reliable source. I thought it was a good article based on the very limited information available.
This "balless" pilot should be charged with Criminal Homicide! At the VERY least, he should be sought out by the family members of the victims and dealt with personally! I can assure you if that were my family he KILLED, the "system" would be the LEAST of his concerns!
What a ridiculously vague article, he might as well say:
A survey shows Ford's tires burst erratically. Therefore the man that hit that child at the crossing the other day was probably due to that.
Speculative crap, not want you want to read on PopSci.
That is pretty harsh, RedFoxOne. Would you rather the pilot die, too? What he is feeling right now is far worse than what you could do to him. Him dying wouldn't solve anything. He did what he had to.
RedFoxOne, the pilot didn't just eject out of lack of balls. If thee was anything else he could have done, he would have done it. if anything, if he is alive than he could be crucial in figuring out what went wrong and therefore preventing this sort of thing happening again.
Don't be a jerk.He probably feels like crap already without people pointing the finger at him.
The fact is that if he was training off the coast he was supposed to land in a close by air field.
If he was off of camp pendleton he could have landed in the main side air field by Wilcox range, just a few miles off the coast. why did he go all the way south to miramar? i'm sure this route took him straight over neighborhoods.
He had a good engine, he could have done it right, but chose not to.
Marine pilots are nothing but a bunch pretty boys, who don't care and act careless.
Taking a look at Google/Maps I see that Miramar is a rather small town and far from other populated areas. Unless his plane konked out just a few seconds before touch-down, it should have been very easy to aim that bomb out to sea or somewhere else safe before ejecting. He had time to radio, so he had time to change course.
Crashing or dumping excess fuel, or even doing combat, over a populated area is a scenario every fighter or bomber pilot has nightmares about. He was instructed about this.
RedFoxOne is right that it should be Criminal Homicide
Ahahahahah lol funny i agree. The thing is thought we use to much tchnology. i wached this movie called the gods must be crazy and it was right, we are to depended on technology.the people who live in tribes with no technology can live and survive with no murders and crashes or anything.peaceful people.then a glass coco cola bottle falls from a plane and they start fighting over it and.....watch the movie....
But this is probably just a FAULT....all techniolgy has a fault....no technology is perfect....its all faulty like the tasers.
Actually, there were two faults. One was indeed technology, and one was human. 1 + 1 = 3 dead.
Please note that all PEOPLE have faults as well. Well-designed technology at has fewer, but also has no creativity, which can compensate for machine faults. This guy didn't tap that creativity.
Someone commented that "Taking a look at Google/Maps I see that Miramar is a rather small town and far from other populated areas."
This person clearly did not look up "Miramar Marine Corps Air Station" which is located smack dab in the middle of a very populated part of San Diego.
The other part of the post, inferring that the pilot seemed to have enough time to radio, but not to fly the plane to a less populated place to crash it, is woefully ignorant as well. Modern combat jets are flying bricks when they are without power. This one was very low, on final approach when the second engine failed. The pilot was lucky to get out alive at all. Fractions of a second separate life from death at this altitude and (lack of) speed.
One can understand people being upset to hear of such tragedies, but to carelessly cast about hateful talk and accusations like this is irresponsible and does nothing to further constructive dialogue.
The question of "should these planes be flying" is remarkable to the point of being ludicrous. All aircraft, civilian and military, are used for very long service lifetimes. Many components have scheduled replacement intervals so that they can be replaced before a failure is likely.
The F/A-18 is a baby compared to most of the US military aircraft arsenal:
C-130 Hercules: 1956 - present (52 years)
EA-6B Prowler: 1971 - current (37 years)
F-4 Phantom: 1960 - 1996 (36 years)
F-14 Tomcat: 1974 - 2006 (32 years)
A-10 Thunderbolt ("Warthog"): 1977 - current (31 years)
F-16 Fighting Falcon: 1978 - current (30 years)
F/A-18 Hornet: 1983 - current (25 years)
Are all of those aircraft the original airframe? Of course not; many of these have gone through numerous major updates. But some of the original airframes are still flying (for some odd reason, the Iranian F-14s haven't been updated since 1980, although they do buy a lot of replacement parts from the US).
To ask "should these planes still be flying?" is specious. Even if an age-related problem was the cause, the aviation industry is more familiar with age-related problems and handling than almost any other industry I can think of.
The F-14 has a stress tested airframe on the ground that is operated continuously at what I heard was 2X the average of any one F-14 in service around the world (there were 80 in Tehran in 1979, 77 today). Last year, last month, I was in Burlington, Vermont when the F-18s it was ordered were grounded over fuselage stress cracks that had developed and they shifted the interceptor defense of the Northeast to the Vermont Air Guard where I was part of a crew digging archaeology test holes along the existing electrical power-line right-of-ways. It was a little strange to watch the permitted F-18s circle and touch-and-go over and over. I had forgot they been grounded had been until this terrible accident. Perhaps the failure is "part" of last years' general order?
It looks like both engines failed. He was coming in with one engine failed and then the second failed.
(And no, he shouldn't have headed out over the ocean after one engine failure. There's a reason they put two engines on most aircraft and three+ on inter-continental aircraft).
So this rules out the stress fracture. An aileron hinge failure (the focus of the fracture issue) wouldn't cause twin engine failures.
Did they just build this airfield close to this housing area? I don't think so. I do know that the housing area near the end on NAS Jacksonville went up long after the Naval Air Station.
hey Americans i feel sadness for the family, the dad where ever expecily. BUT im ready to acept that sometimes bad things happen to damn good people. The pilot his camanders his trainers controlers and others as well as the Americans at G-Zero
I am scared mad that americans can put american military personel on trial in civilian courts with civilian judges and jurys. I think this is a real tragedy but its not a RAMBO movie... "wake up america" " good day"
Considering that the F18 takes 49 hours of maintenance for every hour it spends in the air, I'd think any serious problems with the planes would be caught during maintenance.
As with any high tech device problems do come up, but this sounds fishy to me. One of the things pilots are trained to do is, if they have to eject, aim the plane away from built up areas first.
I read this article because of this teaser:
"Normal aging is blamed for yesterday's F-18 crash"
The article, however, says blame has not been assigned and it would be premature to do so. Therefore the lead-in is a deliberate lie, by the author or someone else, to create news and induce people to read the article.
Maybe I won't resubscribe to Pop Sci if this is the best you can do.
The tag line refers to the fact that other news agency are reporting speculation, and rumors that lead people to believe things that aren't true. Just like when they picked up the study that showed that people who play video games show emotion when playing, media reads into what isn't there and starts reporting on the new link to video games and violence. Here and wikinews are some of the few places I have found that have said that no one knows what happened yet besides a plane crashed and people died.
For those who think the pilot should be charged with a crime, I say you aren't seeing the whole thing. First something goes wrong, but the plane is still flyable, so the pilot radios in and heads for the nearest strip he feels he can safely land at. It wasn't until something else went wrong did he eject, at that point he had no other options, If he could have died crashing the plane into the desert I'm sure he would have. Fact is he saved a life, his. may not sound heroic, but It doesn't do anyone any good to have 4 dead instead of 3.
My prayers and condolences go out to family who lost so much that day. Also to the pilot who will never be able forget what happened.
Just a thought about the area,the aircraft and the "top gun school location."
NAS North Island,(Coronado Island), and Miramar Marine air station are both in the San Diego area and only seconds away from each other. If the pilot was experiencing trouble, it might of been more prudent to try to make it to North Island,as it lies in the San Diego bay. Water mostly around it ,and in case of a total engine failure he could of ditched in the ocean near the parimeter of the large Naval air base.
Going for Miramar( No longer the top gun school site,)might of been a bit closer but around civilian concerns,and no water to safely eject in dire straits.No one knows except the pilot.
F-18,s don't glide well,giving way to the theory of the flying brick,so no operating engine ,no fly. How was the pilot to know, but the prudent choice was made under major duress,and anyone who has ever flown a jet knows things happen fast when warning lights are alarms are screaming at you. They did , he survived but lost the 57 million aircraft(that he was trying to save,)and 3 innocent people died. Fate is the hunter.
God bless these people who put their lives on the line every time they climb into the cockpit,to protect our country.
This man,s family was taken by FATE. He was happy to live in this land of the free. His family paid the ultimate price to live in this wonderful land where people die sometimes in pursuit of this endevor. Sad but no foul.
Last is, the department of the Navy decided to move the "Top Gun school" out into the northern Nevada desert because it is less populated,and thus decreases the chances of innocent civilians being hurt.So Mister Secretary of the Navy,
shut down the Miramar base like they did to "El Toro."
it was in a heavyly populated area also.
I proudly served in the US Navy air corps@ Nas North Island, as a jet mechanic,and weight and balance tech. for 3 years at North Island,1962-1965
God Bless our country,and all who serve it.
As a former military aircraft mechanic of mainly engines but some airframe work on a huge variety of aircraft from F-15, and F-16s, to C-141s, KC135s, and C-130s I agree that the statistical analysis of crash data, particularly in Military aircraft is intense. Spectra-graphic Oil Analysis programs routinely scan engine oil for increases of trace metals in the parts per billion that identify wear of critical wet lubed components. Pre-flight,Post-flight, Periodic and Iso-chronal inspections of everything is done to insure the aircraft are in working order. Not only flight hours are tracked, but cycles of take offs and landing as well as cycles of crossing the transonic barriers are recorded and maintained for each aircraft, as they induce special stresses on the engines and the airframe. A crash investigation looks at everything from the pilots (Or NAVAL AVIATOR,, giggle,, a bird by any other name) state of mind, his home life activity,his or her physical health, the mechanics and their records, flight paths, black box data, wreckage analysis in which they try and reconstruct the pieces of whats left into the semblance of the formerly intact airplane. The reasons and why fors and investigations and board hearings on each crash are justified because of the expense of the craft, but also because of the potential high loss of life. Mechanics are taught for day one the serious nature of the precision of their work and most carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and subsequent pride. The pilots do too. Any Naval Aviator who lands a plane on the pitching short deck of an Aircraft Carrier at night, attempting to snag one of a few wires with a speed arresting tail hook is in my humble opinion a brave soul, and not a glamor pretty boy. Flying has it's inherent risks as does driving a car or sailing a boat across an ocean. Men and women doing it in the name of a Nations Security while they might be doing something safer for more money in the civilian sector should receive the greatest respect. Even mechanics who serve in Korea or Saudi make sacrifices for their families every day. Are all man-made systems perfect and without flaw despite the best attempts at engineering and management? Certainly not. Does greed and money and politics and obscure unforeseen factors sometimes result as contributing causes in these tragic losses of life and equipment. Certainly. Can a DC3 Gooney Bird from the 1940s or a Jet powered KC-135 from the 1950s still be of service and safely operated if properly maintained? The answer is an obvious yes, as it's done everyday around the world. Does stress fatigue occur in metal structures and human beings alike? (Ask anyone over 50). Is there a balance in the risk to the civilian population from aviation of all types that has to be weighed against the benefits to a society and a nation? I think so. We don't abandon the science of stairs because someone falls or abandon bathtubs because a baby drowns. My personal condolences to the family who lost members in the crash. My personal condolences to those individuals who jump to less than intelligent conclusions of fault and blame against any or all parties concerned, based solely upon their emotions. It is indeed a shame to show ones behind to the rest of the world needlessly.
I work in La Jolla directly below the flight path of Marine F/18's and hear them constantly fly over. I was only a mile away when the horrific event that took the lives of 4 that day. Instead of focusing on the negativity of the situation, I wanted to shed light on how courageous the pilot. The pilot was practicing landing procedures on a Navy aircraft carrier off the coast of San Diego when one of his engines cut out. After radioing for an emergency landing, military air traffic controllers deemed that he was closer to MCAS(Marine Corps Air Station Miramar) than returning to the carrier. Even though Miramar is pretty populated, there are surrounding canyons that border MCAS and the pilot tried to steer his plane into one of the unpopulated canyons. Before he ejected witness on the GROUND said they could see him frantically trying to steer the aircraft showing how low he was before he finally bailed out. One of the first things he asked after ejecting was if he got the F/18 into the canyon or if he killed anyone. Instead of playing the blame game and demanding heads maybe we should thank those in uniform for trying to protect us and doing their best.
i agree wholeheartedly with what jt_zero said. i also live in la jolla, and was working about a mile away in miramar when the crash happened.
the pilot should not be held criminally negligable or anything like that. it appears that interagency bullshit is more to blame for why he was forced to try and land at miramar, because he requested an emergency landing at North Island in Coronado (which is right on the water and a was a closer flight from his position over the water), but was denied by the Navy and forced to land at Miramar instead. He couldn't have landed at Camp Pendleton because they don't have an airstrip suitable for a jet of an F-18's size and are not an air base; Miramar is the Marine Air Base and Pendleton is the base for ground forces. From all accounts, the pilot handled the situation skillfully and bravely, especially considering that in the extremely short time period between when his 2nd engine failed and he crashed, he was able to stay with the plane and steer it toward a canyon (which he missed by only a matter of about 50 feet, which is pretty incredible in itself considering the aforementioned flying brick condition of the plane). All servicemen, especially pilots, know the risk they take with regards to their own lives, but I'm sure that the loss of innocent civilians due to a training accident has to be even more painful for the pilot. I only hope that the military doesn't hang the poor kid out to dry as their fall guy in this unfortunate tragedy.
RedFoxOne, what is your problem? do you have any idea how bad that pilot must feel? i dont possibly see what is "ballless" about ejecting, and nobody would be more helpfull in uncovering what went wrong then the pilot! so get off of it you communist looser.
10USMC75, if you look at maps or google earth, you would see that university city is almost to the airbase, and if you have google earth, use the ruler tool that measures the distance, and you will find that from the intersection of Genesee Ave. and Governor drive to the very end of the runway is only around 2.42 miles. so shut the f*** up about what he should have done, you dont get a whole lot of time up there to make decisions, and his just dident work out the way it was supposed to, and that isint his fault. oh, and marine pilots being "pretty boys", i would love to see you say that to a marines face, i bet you couldent. in fact, i dont think you would even have the guts to look one in the eyes....beacuse marines are REAL men, who defend us and our country, but if it came down to it, i bet you couldent even look that pilot in the face much less call him a pretty boy. USMC, SEMPER-FI
JohnAltura, your a communist also. go back to cuba or wherever it is you people come from.