Navy Fighter Down - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/24/04

Navy Fighter Down

Angel One lands at Hunter. Angel One lands at Hunter.

A Navy pilot parachuted out and had to be rescued after his F/A-18 "Hornet" crashed into the ocean about 12:30pm. It went down about 40 miles east of the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, where it was assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 82.

The Angel One Marine rescue helicopter was actually in the air at the time for a routine training mission, and because of that, it was able to get to the scene in about 20 minutes. A rescue diver jumped into the ocean and was able to get the pilot and himself back on board within about five minutes. The pilot was uninjured.

"We get in the air, we're doing a training mission, next thing you know it's the real thing," said Cpl. Joshua Samuels. "All the crew coordination of everyone on the plane rolled together, the rescue went real well, perfect, just like training."

The crash, which is under investigation, happened during a routine training mission. The pilot was transported by ambulance to the hospital at Hunter Army Airfield for observation.

The squadron returned last month from a six-month deployment about the USS Enterprise, based in Norfolk, Virginia, as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time a Hornet has crashed off our coast. In October of last year, two crashed into the Atlantic. You can read that story here.

As soon as the rescue call went out, local Coast Guard search and rescue teams were in the air within 15 minutes. The crew was en route to the accident site when they got the call that Angel One was already there. But with their helicopter loaded up with equipment, the group continued on their mission.

Coast guard officials say they answer up to 300 calls a year. Pilots say it's just all part of their job. "Once Angel One was on the scene, we then helped Angel One relay some information back to Base Ops as well as Hunter Army Airfield," said pilot Lt. Jeff Henderson. "It's just a matter of helping your fellow brothers out."

The Coast Guard crew is trained not only to respond to search and recovery missions, but also patrols the ports as part of homeland security.

Reported by: WTOC staff

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