MCAS on Stand Down as Crashes Are Investigated - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

06/29/04

MCAS on Stand Down as Crashes Are Investigated

Capt. Nichols died after the second of two recent crashes. Capt. Nichols died after the second of two recent crashes.

Officials at the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort have identified the pilot killed in yesterday's crash. After a three-week exercise in Denmark, Capt. Derek Nichols was returning to the air station with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122, when his jet went down on the runway.

Capt. Nichols' family was waiting at the hanger yesterday to welcome him and the rest of the Crusaders home when the crash happened.

All jets at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort are grounded after the group commander ordered a stand down. The death of 34-year-old Capt. Nichols is the second fatal jet crash in a matter of days.

"We don't want to rush anything, we want to stop and think about how we're performing maintenance, how we're flying, everything," explained Capt. Don Caetano. "We're going to look at everything. We owe it to the Marines and sailors."

Since July of 2001, Capt. Nichols had been serving as a Canadian exchange pilot with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122.

"Captain Nichols was extracted from the aircraft and he was medevacked by Angel One to Savannah Memorial Hospital," said Capt. Caetano. "He died at about 8:10."

As the base mourns the loss of Capt. Nichols, investigators will be looking into what caused the crash.

"There's no cookie-cutter approach, but there are trained aviators, a part of every unit that makes up the Board of Investigation," said Lt. Col. Ross Roberts. "They'll sort through the tapes, altitudes, radar hits and pieces of wreckage and try to put together what could have possibly determine the cause of the incident."

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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