Navy jet crashed Friday into some apartments near Virginia Beach, VA
An F/A-18D Hornet from Naval Air Station Oceana crashed Friday into a two-story apartment building in Virginia Beach.
The pilot and naval flight officer both ejected safely and were taken to a local hospital for observation, Navy officials said. It’s unclear if anyone in the building was hurt.
There was “significant disruption” to the buildings, said Battalion Chief Tim Riley, a Virginia Beach Fire Department spokesman. There are no confirmed injuries in the apartment complex but emergency crews have not yet been through the entire crash scene. In the last two years, local emergency services have had two offsite training drills with the Navy, he said.
“It’s integrated into our system,” he said. “Unfortunately today it’s come to fruition.”
The aircraft was from Strike Fighter Squadron 106, a Hornet flight replacement squadron. A FRS trains aviators to fly a specific airframe.
Former Navy SEAL Patrick McAleenan was a block away when the plane crashed and said the sound was unmistakable and that the walls of his home shook.
“I knew it was an aircraft. They fly over all the time. I knew it was an aircraft,” he said in a phone interview.
He said the pilots ejected at the last possible second in an apparent effort to make sure that the plane would not crash into a nearby school.
McAleenan said that the aviators appeared to be safe, considering the circumstances.
“One of them, literally, his parachute hung on a balcony. The people on the ground were dragging him to safety,” he said.
The F/A-18’s tail section was intact, lying in the apartment building’s courtyard, he said.
“There’s fire crews. There are lines. Everybody is helping everybody. The lines are charged and ready and it looks like they are looking to see if there are any casualties or survivors and assessing the damage,” McAleenan said.
In 2012, there have been at least two F/A-18 Class A mishaps, the most serious type of accident. The latest was an F/A-18C crash on Feb 26 in Bahrain. Two days earlier, an F/A-18F crashed during a routine training mission in Fallon, Nev.