Navy Stunt Pilots’ Training Flight Ends in Crash
EL CENTRO, Calif. (AP) _ Two jets in the Navy’s Blue Angels precision flying team collided while practicing a stunt, causing one plane to crash into a mountain, the Navy said. The pilot of the downed jet ejected safely.
The FA-18 Hornet plunged into 759-foot Superstition Mountain about 20 miles from El Centro on Tuesday, said Mike Ray, a spokesman at the El Centro Naval Air Facility.
In Hawaii, the Coast Guard, Marines and Navy resumed the search today for a Marine pilot whose helicopter crashed during training maneuvers. The CH-46 Sea Knight went down Monday about 25 miles from Oahu. Three rescued Marines were in satisfactory condition.
In the El Centro collision, three other planes, including one involved in the collision, returned safely to the base, Ray said. The pilot who ejected, Marine Corps Capt. Chase Moseley, was treated at a hospital for facial bruises and cuts, authorities said.
The Blue Angels use the desert base in the winter to practice the daredevil routines they perform at air shows around the country.
The four aircraft were practicing a tight ″diamond roll″ formation when the lead plane flown by Cmdr. Pat Moneymaker struck Moseley’s aircraft, Ray said. Moneymaker is the Blue Angels’ commanding officer.
The Navy is investigating how the collision occurred.
In the maneuver, four planes fly skyward in a diamond formation from low altitude and perform a 500 mph loop while staying in a tightly packed group.
The accident was the first involving a Blue Angels aircraft since February 1987, when an FA-18 crashed during practice. The pilot ejected safely.