Navy jet that crashed near Key West was flying with 1 engine, document says
By BROCK VERGAKIS | The Virginian-Pilot (Tribune News Service) | Published: March 28, 2018
VIRGINIA BEACH — The Navy jet that crashed March 14 off Florida’s coast and resulted in both crew members’ deaths was flying with only one engine as it attempted to land, according to the Naval Safety Center.
The Virginia Beach-based F/A-18F Super Hornet crashed on final approach during a training mission about a mile from Naval Air Station Key West. The dual-seated aircraft is built by Boeing and is equipped with twin engines that are each capable of 17,000 pounds of thrust. It’s unclear how long one of the engines had been out before the crash.
The pilot, Lt. Cmdr. James Brice Johnson, and weapons systems officer Lt. Caleb Nathaniel King ejected, were picked up in water near Key West and were taken to a local hospital, where they were pronounced dead.
The Navy has convened a board to determine all factors that caused the crash, which will likely take months to complete.
The investigation will include an examination of previous aircraft maintenance, number of hours flown on the aircraft, physical condition of the aircrew and their activities before the crash, according to the Navy. The information about an engine being out was contained in a short narrative compiled by the Norfolk-based Naval Safety Center.
Witnesses reported seeing a fireball and then the jet falling out of the sky into shallow water.
Photographs showed the jet upside down in the water with its landing gear down. The jet was removed from the water late last week, according to Cmdr. Dave Hecht, a Naval Air Force Atlantic spokesman .
A funeral service was held for King in Florida on Saturday. Aservice for Johnson that included a missing man formation flyover was held in Virginia Beach on Friday.
The Navy will hold a memorial service for both men later this week at Naval Air Station Oceana. Hecht said the service is not open to the public and is primarily for the men and women of Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic.
Johnson and King were assigned to the “Blacklions” of Strike Fighter Squadron 213. The squadron is part of Carrier Air Wing Eight, which is assigned to the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush.
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