Mechanical failure cited in Wednesday's AV-8B Harrier crash in California
The Sun, Yuma, Ariz.
The crash landing of the AV-8B Harrier aircraft near Felicity, Calif. Wednesday was caused by an unspecified mechanical failure, military officials stated.
The site of the crash landing is still cordoned off by military and law enforcement personnel because two 500-pound bombs attached to the harrier that did not detonate upon impact still pose a danger to the public.
The jet was carrying the bombs en route to the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range to drop the ordnance on targets.
A Crash Fire Rescue Team from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma is “trying to work as quickly as possible” to deal with the threat, said Capt. Staci Reidinger, director of public affairs for MCAS Yuma.
Marine Corps officials were in the process of deciding what to do with the bombs Thursday afternoon.
“They are working… to make a decision on which way to go,” Reidinger added, noting that one option is to bury the bombs at the crash site and to detonate them there. The second option is to disarm the bombs and to transport them to a Marine Corps ordnance disposal location.
If the bombs are detonated at the site, the public may hear a loud noise and feel a slight tremor in the vicinity.
“They are all doing all the calculations on the blow radius,” Reidinger said. “It is not a very large radius that would be impacted because it would be below ground.”
The AV-8B Harrier crashed during a training exercise about 15 miles northwest of MCAS Yuma at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. The pilot, whose identity will not be released at present because the investigation is ongoing, was able to safely eject from the fighter aircraft before it hit the ground.
According to Reidinger, the pilot ejected safely and upon landing used his cell phone to call the base for help. He was able to walk away from the scene. The aircraft was a total loss, officials said.
Gary Redfern of Imperial, Calif. witnessed the jet crash from a nearby road along with a friend.
“We were southbound on Ogilby Road at 3:30 p.m. going from Palo Verde to Yuma and suddenly I saw a large plume of black smoke rise up from the open desert maybe a mile to our southeast,” he said. “As we got closer the smoke dissipated somewhat, but did linger.”
After the pilot called the base, a Search and Rescue helicopter and crew stationed at MCAS Yuma was dispatched to the area of the crash to transport the pilot. The pilot, who did not suffer major injuries, was taken to Yuma Regional Medical Center for observation and was released the same day.
The multimillion-dollar Harrier was assigned to Marine Attack Training Squadron 203, Marine Aircraft Group 14, 2nd Marine Air Wing stationed at MCAS Cherry Point in North Carolina.
Also known as the Hawks, the squadron trains pilots how to fly Harrier aircraft. The Hawks are in the Yuma area to conduct aerial combat training operations.
Jan. 26, 1990 - USMC Harrier pilot killed on a training flight from Kadena Air Base on Okinawa to Osan Air Base in South Korea.
Feb. 12, 1990 - USMC Harrier pilot killed and a reconnaissance observer hurt when they ejected almost simultaneously from separate aircraft during training missions at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms in California.
Oct. 2, 1990 - USMC Harrier pilot killed during a low-altitude flight over a dense North Carolina forest after ejecting from his AV-8B Harrier. He hit the trees before his parachute opened.
Jan. 22, 1991 - USMC Harrier pilot killed while conducting a training mission during the Persian Gulf War. He smashed into the Omani coastline while approaching the deck of the amphibious assault ship Nassau for a landing.
Nov. 11, 1991 - USMC Harrier pilot killed after he steered away from the Spanish village of Villgarcia de la Torre and ejected with the plane upside down. His parachute broke away before he reached the ground.
June 29, 1992 - USMC Harrier pilot from VMA-214 killed after his parachute veered into the fireball created at the Davenport Municipal Airport in Iowa when his AV-8B Harrier exploded at the end of the runway during an aborted takeoff attempt.
Aug. 16, 1992 - USMC Harrier pilot killed while simulating bombing runs in the desert of Kuwait.
Aug. 19, 1992 - USMC Harrier pilot killed during a training flight that began at Cherry Point, North Carolina when his AV-8B Harrier crashed in shallow water in Pamlico Sound.
Aug. 10, 1993 - An AV-8B Harrier II crashes on the runway at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina. Capt. William Delaney ejected before impact but descended into the fireball causing fatal injuries.
Jan. 30, 1995 - USMC Harrier pilot disappears at night over the Indian Ocean 140 miles off the coast of Somalia.
Sept. 18, 1995 - USMC pilot killed during a night training run in North Carolina when his AV-8B Harrier clipped another Harrier in the formation and crashed into the Neuse River.
Feb. 16, 1996 - USMC pilot killed shortly after takeoff from Cherry Point, North Carolina when his AV-8B was apparently struck by lightning.
Oct. 7, 1996 - USMC Harrier pilot killed during a training mission over California's Chocolate Mountains when three bombs, all with expired fuses, detonated prematurely aboard his AV-8B.
April 22, 1998 - USMC Harrier pilot killed after ejecting during a training flight over the Imperial Valley when his AV-8B Harrier engine failed.
May 2, 1999 - A Harrier returning to USS Kearsarge crashes into the Adriatic Sea whilst on a training mission, after the pilot ejected.
Aug. 30, 1999 - USMC Harrier pilot killed after his AV-8B Harrier lost power over Death Valley National Park. He ejected but hard landed in rocky terrain and died of a head injury.
Feb. 3, 2001 - US Marine Corps TAV-8B Harrier crashes as it neared touchdown on a base runway at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, killing two aviators.
April 1, 2003 - AV-8B+(R) Harrier of HMM-263 crashes off USS Nassau in the Persian gulf during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The pilot was rescued.
Dec. 3, 2003 - Harrier crashes in an alfalfa field near MCAS in Yuma, Ariz. Pilot Safely ejected and was rescued.
Dec. 8, 2003 - Harrier crashes in a remote area of the Chocolate Mountains Aerial Gunnery Range in Southern California. Pilot safely ejected and was rescued.
Dec. 1, 2004 - AV-8B stationed at MCAS Yuma crashes at Yuma Proving Ground. Pilot ejected safely and was rescued.
June 15, 2005 - USMC AV-8B Harrier crashes in Yuma, AZ neighborhood. The pilot, who ejected from the jet prior to the crash, and two people on the ground suffered minor injuries.
Dec. 6, 2005 - USMC AV-8B from Marine Attack Training Squadron 203 out of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point crashes about 20 miles east of Saint Augustine, Florida. Capt. Jason Thomsen safely ejected and was rescued.
Nov. 27, 2007 - US Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier with VMA-513 crashes near Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, with the pilot ejecting safely.
Feb. 13, 2008 - USMC AV-8B Harrier II from VMA-542 crashes at the Open Ground Farms in Carteret County, North Carolina. The pilot was able to safely eject.
May 15, 2008 - US Marine Corps TAV-8B Harrier II from VMAT-203, crashes while on a training mission in southern Arizona, with both pilots ejecting safely.
Dec. 29, 2008 - US Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier with VMAT-203 crashes in an unpopulated area approximately one mile east of the air station near North Carolina Highway 101, killing the pilot.
July 18, 2010 - US Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier crashes in an unpopulated area of the Ocala National Forest in Florida.
July 25, 2012 - US Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier crashes in an unpopulated area near Felicity, Calif. about 15 miles northwest of MCAS Yuma. Pilot ejected safely and was rescued.
— Chris McDaniel