May 07, 2004
F-15 crashes in Virginia; crew safe
By Bruce Rolfsen
Times staff writer
A piece of wreckage from an F-15E fighter that crashed near Callaway, Va., rests in front of a home. The fliers, who bailed out safely, were assigned to the 4th Fighter Wing based at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. — Sam Dean / The Roanoke Times / AP
The two crewmen aboard an F-15E Strike Eagle safely ejected from their plane while flying a training mission over southwestern Virginia Thursday.
Surviving the crash were pilot Capt. Darren P. Wees and weapons systems officer Capt. Daniel C. Spier, both of the 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.
An Air Force report said the aircrew suspected a bird-strike started the chain of events that led to the crash.
A formal reason for the crash will be determined by accident and safety investigation boards.
The bulk of the jet came down about 200 yards from scattered homes near Callaway, Va., 20 miles south of Roanoke, Va. However, some large pieces fell in the yard of at least one home.
No one on the ground was injured.
Witness said that at around 5:15 p.m. they saw two F-15Es flying at a low-level over the mountain foothills.
“I looked up at it and, ‘Shew!’ A shiny piece of metal flew off. It looked like a wing,” recalled Whitney Taylor, the owner of a nearby auto racetrack.
Taylor and others spotted the captains’ ejections and drove to where the pair landed. There, Taylor said, he let one of the airmen use his cellphone to call for help.
The accident was just the third crash of an Air Force fighter in fiscal 2004.
Investigators trying to find cause of crash
5/7/2004 8:39 AM
By: Ken Derksen & Web Staff
(CALLAWAY, Virginia) -- Investigators are now trying piece together what caused a Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Strike Eagle to crash Thursday in Virginia.
The crash happened around 5 p.m.
Seymour Johnson says the F-15 E was doing a low level training exercise with another F-15 when it lost control and hit the ground.
The crash happened 20 miles south of Roanoke. Witnesses say the Strike Eagle jack-knifed straight down and crashed. Fortunately, the pilots both had time to eject and land safely.
The pilot was Captain Darren Wees and the weapon system operator was Captain Daniel Speer. They are both with the 4th Fighter Wing.
After the crash, Seymour Johnson sent a four man team to offer assistance to investigators and local law enforcement. Investigators will spend Friday combing through wreckage, trying to find an answer to what caused this strike eagle to go down.
This is the second Seymour Johnson F-15 E that's crashed in the past year. Last June a Strike Eagle went down in Johnston County after a piece of flight control malfunctioned.
How does an aircraft jackknife?
F-16's make fine Lawn Darts!!!
The F16 "lawn dart" issue is one I know a bit about.
In short, the no. 1 reason for F16 crashes is that the pilot loses consciousness in an abrupt manuever near the 9 G limit. For reference, of all active duty aircraft in our inventory, all OTHERS have a 7.5 G maneuvering limit. Only the F16 has a 9 G limit, and as a result, some pilots have GLOC'ed into the ground. (G-induced Loss Of Consciousness)
There is no safety or flightworthiness issue with the F16 itself. The problem is that you can't control the plane if you knock yourself out in a too-violent maneuver that you're not fully prepared for.
There has been some work done on modifying the flight control system so that the autopilot will automatically override the controls if the collision avoidance system detects a critical threat, like the ground rapidly approaching. "Bitching Betty" as it's often called will keep the plane from lawn darting.
This upgrade has been implemented in the Block 60/62 series and is under consideration as an upgrade for all active F16s, including those that have been through the MLU upgrade program.
Try telling that to Janet Harduvel.
Ever wonder why the Navy stopped operating the F-16's they had?
Are they not still operating the F-16s orginally intended for the Pakastani Air Force? They use the F-16s as opposing force agressor roles in combat training... i.e. Topgun.
I'll tell you EXACTLY why the Navy retired their Aggressor F16Ns!
26 were made, all Block 30, of which four were the two seat variant used for transition training.
Their serial numbers were assigned in two blocks. First block was serials 163268 thru 163281
and the second block carried serials 163566 thru 163577.
All of them were made without armament of any kind. As a result, they were significantly lighter than the usual F16, being minus a 20mm cannon and its associated equipment, a weight savings of at least seven hundred pounds. (Much more, if you count the weight of a full load of 20mm ammo.)
The planes were ordered with strengthened wings, too.
They were used in the aggressor role, and it's no exaggeration to say that they lived an extraordinarly intense life in the air.
ALL of the Navy's F16Ns were retired early, as the calendar goes, with a lot of hours on the airframes for their calendar age, and most significantly, they were retired because of cracks in the wing roots brought on by all that very aggressive maneuvering.
They could be re-winged, but the Navy uses Hornets in the aggressor role now anyway.
They have not decided to reactivate the F16Ns, but could do so if they chose to, after having
them refurbished and new wings installed.
Only ONE of these aircraft crashed. Serial 163568, on Dec. 17, 1992.
Here's a pic of one of the N models:
For a civilian, I know a fair amount about the Viper.
The US Navy had 38 F-16 airframes. The 26 you reference matches the first 26 which the US Navy took delivery of and should be listed as storage (in-active). However the succeeding 12 F-16s were destined to PAF (Pakastani Air Force) but now resides in US Navy inventory. Most of these 12 should still be on active status.
The photo you show in your post appears to be the first F-16N accepted by the Navy, BTW. It has long since been in-active. The F-16N that crashed was in the Twin Falls, ID area. I believe the date was Dec. '92.
The PAF F-16s of the US Navy are F-16As and F-16Bs.
They also did not have a weapons radar.
The tails were also cracking.
The wiring bundles were also chaffing, plus the wiring was made of kapton.
The Paki A's and B's will be trashed in short order.
My buddy who runs the NDI lab in Fallon just got his F-16 NDI certification.
It's sort of funny, A few years ago, a few people were complaining of the noise from the flights. They even went as far to say that their horses quit breeding because of the noise. they wrote letters to the newspapers and tried to get the the flight stopped.
After 9/11/01, we never heard from them again..... I just tell my daughter they are "working security" for us.
I love to see the flights, The wife and I went to Va Beach a few years ago and went on a tour of the Oceania Naval Air Station while we were there. Cool trip if you get a chance. Never knew the Navy had any F-16's. Learn something new everyday.
Not only is it possible, but you can do it in ANY aircraft. With a power to weight ratio of better then 1-1 you can even accelerate.
Wire chaffing in the wing LE area and Crap-ton wiring is a problem with ALL F-16's (especially the Block 30's) (B-1's too). Wing changes on a -16 are easy, but I'd bet that most the cracks on the aggreesors are in the cary-though area of the fuselage.
I'm hoping the block 60's get Tefzel wiring, but alas, the USAF hasn't bought any.....