Navy F/A-18 Crashes into Virginia Beach Apartment Complex

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April 6, 2012

A Navy jet has crashed into a Virginia Beach apartment complex this morning.  The two-member crew were reported to have ejected and at least one has been taken to the hospital.  No immediate reports of injuries on the ground.

Local report from the scene:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPxuwonOHxs

Here’s the initial statement made by the U.S. Navy on the incident:

From Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) — An F/A-18D assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 crashed in Virginia Beach, Va. April 6.

Initial reports indicate that at approximately 12:05 p.m., the jet crashed just after takeoff at a location just off of the base.

Both aircrew safely ejected from the aircraft.

VFA-106 is based at Naval Air Station Oceana, and serves as the East Coast Fleet Replacement Squadron. Their mission is to train Navy and Marine Corps F/A-18 Replacement Pilots and Weapon Systems Officers (WSOs) to support fleet commitments.

The Navy is coordinating with local authorities.

Some more video shot from a nearby building:

Friday Afternoon update: A Navy fighter jet crashed Friday into an apartment complex in Virginia Beach, Va., after the two-member crew ejected, injuring at least seven people and destroying three buildings and damaging others.

The seven who were injured, including a student pilot and an instructor, were taken to hospitals, officials said. A city spokesman said rescue teams were still searching for possible victims.

The two-seat F/A-18D Hornet crashed around midday shortly after takeoff near Naval Air Station Oceana, a military base, the Navy said in a statement. Navy fire and rescue personnel were on the scene along with local first responders, a Virginia Beach Fire Department representative said.

Virginia Beach EMS division chief Bruce Nedelka said that witnesses saw fuel being dumped from the jet before it went down, and that fuel was found on buildings and vehicles in the area, according to the Associated Press.

“By doing so, he mitigated what could have been an absolute massive, massive fireball and fire,” Nedelka said. “With all of that jet fuel dumped, it was much less than what it could have been.”

In a statement, Adm. John Harvey, the head of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, promised to conduct “a complete investigation into the cause of this mishap and share all information we have as soon as we are able to do so.”

At a press conference in Virginia Beach, a Navy official said the crash appeared to be caused by a “catastrophic mechanical malfunction” shortly after takeoff. He also said that the plane carried a student pilot, who was sitting in the front seat, and an instructor, and that while jet fuel was dumped, it wasn’t clear the pilots intentionally did that.

Three buildings were destroyed, and two more had significant damage, the AP reported.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said he informed Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms that all possible state resources would be available to the city.

“We are monitoring events carefully as they unfold and state police resources are now on the scene,” McDonnell said. “Our fervent prayer is that no one was injured or killed in this accident.”

The crash occurred in the Hampton Roads area of southeastern Virginia. The area is home to a sizable military community and a network of military installations, including a large naval base, Naval Station Norfolk.

The jet that crashed was part of a squadron that trains Navy and Marine Corps aviators. According to a unit website, the training course includes the basics of flying strike missions as well as aircraft-carrier takeoffs and landings.

Rep. Scott Rigell (R., Va.,), whose district includes Virginia Beach, said in a statement, “Our prayers are with our entire Hampton Roads and military communities right now as our first responders are admirably addressing the situation on the ground. I have spoken with Governor McDonnell, Mayor Sessoms, and leadership at Naval Air Station Oceana, and my office and I stand ready to assist as appropriate.”

The same model of fighter jet crashed in December 2008 after a training exercise in a San Diego neighborhood, killing four people and destroying two homes.

Write to Nathan Hodge at [email protected]

Copyright © 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

Photo from the scene:

AP photo

 

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