Vucano Market - US Navy Blue Angels Towels (Officially Licensed)
Vucano Market - US Navy Blue Angels Towels (Officially Licensed)

Air Force Announces Report Findings On 2016 Thunderbird #6 Crash – Pilot Cleared

posted in: Jet Teams | 0

US Air Force Thunderbirds

The US Air Force says that the crash of Thunderbird #6 into a Colorado field earlier this year was caused by a throttle malfunction. The finding was part of the Accident Investigation Board report on the incident, announced today by Air Combat Command. The crash occurred shortly after a flyby of the United States Air Force Academy graduation ceremony in Colorado Springs, CO on June 2nd.

Although speculation has been rampant that the F-16 Fighting Falcon ran out of fuel, ACC has stated that hundreds of pounds of fuel were removed from the wreckage. Instead, the investigation found that an issue with the throttle incorrectly caused the pilot, Major Alex Turner, to shut the engine off rather than setting it to idle power as intended. He was unable to restart the engine due to his low altitude and ejected safely after steering toward an empty field.

According to ACC, “after beginning landing procedures, the pilot inadvertently rotated the throttle, placing it into an engine cut-off position. Normally, this full rotation cannot occur unless a throttle trigger is affirmatively actuated or pressed. However, the throttle trigger was “stuck” in the “pressed” position. The accident investigation board observed debris accumulation in the throttle trigger, combined with wear on the trigger assembly.

Once the engine cut-off occurred, the aircraft immediately lost thrust. The pilot attempted engine restart procedures, but restart was impossible at the low altitude of the aircraft. The pilot safely delayed his ejection until he navigated the aircraft to a grass field.

The aircraft, valued at approximately $29 million, was destroyed. There was no known damage to civilian property. At the time of the accident, the pilot was a current and qualified air demonstration pilot, with more than 1,200 hours flying the F-16 and a total flight time of 1,447 hours. He resumed demonstrations with the team.”

The Thunderbirds were grounded for a little over two weeks following the crash. They returned to aerial demonstrations at the airshow in Ocean City, MD and successfully completed the remainder of their 2016 show season.

This crash was somewhat overshadowed by the fact that Blue Angel #6, Marine Captain Jeff Kuss, was killed when his aircraft crashed the same afternoon in Smyrna, TN. That crash was a separate and unrelated accident, and a report on it was released in September.

Navy Releases Report From Blue Angel 6 Crash Investigation

posted in: Jet Teams, Popular Posts | 3

Captain Jeff Kuss - Blue Angel 6

The United States Navy has concluded their investigation into the fatal crash of a Blue Angel F/A-18 Hornet earlier this year in June, which killed Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss.

The publicly released JAGMAN report lists “pilot error” as the primary cause, stating that Capt. Kuss was too low (3,196 feet) and was flying too fast (184 knots) before entering the Split-S maneuver after takeoff. The maneuver is supposed to be initiated at an altitude of no less than 3,500 feet above the ground and with an optimum airspeed of 125 to 135 knots. No mechanical or maintenance issues were discovered by the investigation.

The report also gives numerous recommendations for ways to learn from the crash and improve safety, such as reviewing and implementing changes to the Blue Angel’s Standard Operation Procedures. The Split-S maneuver will not be performed in 2016 and will be reviewed before the 2017 season to potentially add extra safeguards. More specific training is urged for team members as well, including reviews of when to abort a maneuver.

In the report, Capt. Kuss’ was rightfully recognized for his exceptional Navy career and his passion for showcasing Naval aviation. Vice Admiral Mike Shoemaker, Commander of Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet said “Capt. Kuss represented the best and brightest of Naval Aviation. His loss is devastating and felt across the Naval Aviation Community.” The investigation determined that Capt. Kuss died in the line of duty and not due to misconduct.

In the hours and days following the crash, countless people expressed their sadness over the loss of Blue Angel 6 and shared their stories of how he touched their lives. Capt. Kuss memory will forever live in the lives of the children and people he connected with during his time with the Blue Angels.

Martin Mars Stars In AirVenture Lineup, Recovers From Damage

posted in: Airshows, Warbirds | 2

Martin Mars - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016

The famous Martin Mars water bomber was one of the main attractions at EAA AirVenture this year, but it did not survive the show unscathed. The aircraft, which performed in the Monday, Wednesday, and Friday airshows, suffered a bird strike to one of its four engines on Friday. In the ensuing landing on Lake Winnebago, it hit a rock that tore a basketball-sized hole in the flying boat’s hull. The damage forced the plane to miss its planned Saturday airshow appearance, but after extensive pumping and some repair work, it was able to fly home and did so on Tuesday, August 2nd.

Martin Mars - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016
Pumping underway to keep the Martin Mars afloat

The “Hawaii Mars II”, the aircraft showcased at AirVenture, is the lone flying example remaining of the type. Only seven aircraft were built in the 1930’s and 1940’s, with with most destroyed or scrapped long ago. She is owned by Coulson Flying Tankers in British Columbia, and has been used to fight wild fires in the region. A second intact Mars, named “Phillipine Mars”, is also owned by Coulson but does not currently fly. Phillipine Mars is painted in the colors she wore during her service in the US Navy as a long range patrol aircraft. There was previously a deal in place to send her to the National Museum of Naval Aviation, but it fell through and Coulson Flying Tankers is currently seeking a buyer for both aircraft as they are no longer being tasked with firefighting duties.

Martin Mars - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016Martin Mars - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016

You can check out the stunning performance of the Martin Mars during AirVenture in our video:

Thunderbird 6 Uninjured After Ejecting Following Air Force Academy Flyover, Team To Observe Safety Stand Down

posted in: Jet Teams | 0

Thunderbird #6

Thunderbird #6, Major Alex Turner, is in good condition after ejecting from his F-16 today while preparing to land at Peterson AFB in Colorado. The Thunderbirds were returning after their flyover of the United States Air Force Academy graduation ceremony, which was attended by President Barack Obama. The aircraft came to rest in a field, nearly intact, after Major Turner ejected. Some have speculated that the engine may have failed, but the official cause is under investigation. Once the pilot was recovered and flown to the base, President Obama met with him shortly to express relief for his safety.

The team will observe a safety stand down following the incident, preventing performances for an undetermined period of time. This is standard protocol after a serious mishap.

We are extremely happy that Major Turner is uninjured, and hope he and the team can return to the skies soon.

Note that this is a separate and unrelated incident from the crash that claimed the life of Blue Angel #6 just moments later in Smyrna, TN.

Several images showing the aircraft wreckage were posted online following the crash:

Our original post in the incident can be found here.

Pilot Uninjured In “Tuskegee Airmen” P-51 Landing Incident In Texas

posted in: Warbirds | 0
P-51C Mustang "Tuskegee Airmen" Landing Incident
Photo source: NBC 5/DFW

The pilot of the Commemorative Air Force’s rare P-51C Mustang “Tuskegee Airmen” is uninjured after making an emergency belly landing at Dallas Executive Airport in Texas today. Unfortunately, the aircraft sustained significant damage in the incident, and a photo from the scene shows the propeller and spinner laying on the ground near the rest of the aircraft, completely detached. Although the incident is being described as an emergency landing, it is not clear at this point what sort of emergency led to the landing.

This particular aircraft has undergone extensive restoration in the past, first after its donation to the CAF and again after a crash that killed pilot Don Hinz in 2004. The second restoration was completed in 2009. The aircraft had since become a regular sight on the airshow circuit, performing aerobatics and sitting on display next to a traveling movie theater used to educate visitors about the Tuskegee Airmen, an all-black unit set up in World War II in a failed attempt to prove that black men could not fly. The aircraft was named for the unit and painted in the unit’s colors, including the distinctive red tail.

FW-190 Suffers Landing Mishap in New Zealand – No Injuries Reported

posted in: Warbirds | 2
FW-190 Crash Landing in New Zealand - Credit: SNPA
FW-190 Crash Landing in New Zealand – Credit: SNPA

No one was injured when a Focke Wulf FW-190 had a landing incident in New Zealand today. Pilot Frank Parker was landing the German WWII fighter on a grass runway when one of the wheel brakes failed and the aircraft was thrown into a violent ground loop. The flight was in preparation for the Classic Fighters Airshow this weekend at the Omaka Aerodrome in Blenheim. Spectators rushed to the aircraft but Mr. Parker was able to climb out with no injuries. The aircraft sustained significant damage in the mishap, but is said to be repairable.