Aircraft Training Exercises in Three States Result in Incidents
EL CENTRO, Calif. (AP) _ Two Navy Blue Angels jets collided over Superstition Mountain during a training exercise Tuesday, causing one of the planes to crash, authorities said.
Elsewhere, an Air Force jet crashed near a busy highway cloverleaf in Austin, Texas, and a pilot in an Air National Guard jet clipped radio guy wires during a training flight in Hutchinson, Kan.
The pilot of the Blue Angels’ F-A18 ejected safely before the aircraft went into the 795-foot-high mountain about 12:30 p.m. about 20 miles northwest of this Southern California city, said El Centro Naval Air Facility spokesman Mike Ray.
The Navy precision flying team uses the desert base as a winter training center to practice the daredevil routines it performs at air shows throughout the country.
The planes involved in the collision were part of a four-aircraft diamond formation at the time of the accident, Ray said. Three of the aircraft, including the other one involved in the collision, returned safely to the base.
The downed plane’s pilot, Marine Capt. Chase Moseley, was flown by helicopter to the El Centro Regional Medical Center, Ray said.
Moseley was reported in good shape.
In Austin, a two-man crew of an RF-4C reconnaisance jet ejected safely before the aircraft slammed into a grassy area near two busy highways during the afternoon rush hour, snarling traffic and producing a mushroom cloud of smoke and grass fires.
″It’s a godsend that nothing on the ground was hit and no one was hurt,″ said Jerry Reed, a police communications supervisor.
The pilot, Capt. Hal S. Goldsmith, 32, and his weapons officer, 1st Lt. Robert B. Brumley, 25, suffered minor injuries and were taken to a hospital at Bergstrom Air Force Base where they are based, said a base spokesman, Capt. Guy Thompson.
The two were on a routine training mission, the Air Force said. The cause of the crash was under investigation.
In Kansas, the pilot of a Kansas Air National Guard F-16 jet fighter landed safely after striking two steel cables hanging from the tower of radio station KHUT-FM in Hutchinson, about 40 miles northwest of Wichita, authorities said.
″The Guard safety officer told me the wires first hit the canopy. That’s only six inches above the guy’s head. That’s how close he came to being decapitated,″ said KHUT chief engineer Randy Mettlen.
The Air National Guard refused to release the name of the pilot, who was not injured.
The pilot was returning to McConnell Air Force Base, where the plane is based, from a training mission nearby, said a base spokesman, Lt. Col. Paul Muehring.
″The pilot apparently saw the tower in time to avoid it, but he was unable to avoid the guy wires,″ Muehring said.
Navy Lt. Greg Stroh, a Blue Angels supply officer who was at the hospital, said Moseley suffered only facial brusies and cuts in the ejection and would be released later in the day.
The F-A18 that crashed was destroyed.
The accident is the first involving the Blue Angels since February 1987, when a single FA-18 jet crashed during practice maneuvers. Ray said the pilot in that accident bailed out safely.