Terrifying video shows an E-2C Hawkeye almost crashing into the sea after arresting cable snaps aboard USS Eisenhower

Jul 09 2016 - 22 Comments

This is the worst nightmare for pilots conducting trap landings on an aircraft carrier.

This video was filmed on Mar. 18, 2016 and shows an E-2C Hawkeye performing a trap landing on the flight deck of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

As the footage shows, the cable used to catch the landing aircraft snapped: you can see the E-2C, slowed down by the #4 wire, continue toward the end of the flight deck, disappear off the flight deck while falling toward the sea before reappearing several seconds later, miraculously managing to gain speed and altitude.

According to the Virginian-Pilot media outlet, U.S. Navy investigators blamed human error and an improperly programmed valve for the incident in which eight sailors were injured.

Aircraft performing for an arrested landing on a carrier apply full throttle immediately after touchdown for two reasons: they may miss the cable or, worst case scenario, the cable might snap. In both cases, the aircraft needs to

  • giantsfan4life427

    HOW THE HELL that plane was able to come out of that near disaster is beyond me…..that pilot is amazing! WOW!!!!HOLY CRAP!

  • Spencerhut

    Tower this is Hawkeye 123, we’re going to need some fresh underwear. Out.

  • AlexisWolf

    OMG what a pilot! There must have been a good headwind coupled with full throttle!

  • John Lambert

    No … Not the worst nightmare conducting traps. It got far worse all to often on the WWII straight decks, with no clear deck in front of you. Proceeding thru (worse still .. Over) the barricade cables into numerous aircraft that had just landed, with the resulting loss of life, injuries and carnage to the Hellcats & Avengers. But yes that E2 was still a hair raising (skillful & lucky) event.

  • Jan Schmidt

    did the hawkey touch the waves? crew can celebrate a 2nd birthday now. any injuries from the snapped cable on deck?

  • leroy

    Note the 8-bladed NP2000 propellor. It’s designed to provide the aircraft with more thrust at any given torque (engine setting). It’s possible that had this been an E-2C (I think it’s a “D” even though the video says “C”) with the old 4-bladed prop – it’s possible that the plane might not have recovered. Frankly I’m amazed that it did!

  • KLD

    Very nice job, pilot.

  • Robert Kramer

    Give that pilot an Air Medal.

    • cstack

      eventually they did

  • That is precisely why you slam the throttles on landing. What a great ending for this one.

  • RushRoss

    Damn! That was dangerously close! Those people responsible for this possible disaster better get their s**t straight. Geez! Pilot has ice running through his veins. Excellent flying.

  • Mark Muir

    Wow, impressive. I wonder what the wind over deck was.

  • Yak

    Oh gosh, close call…

  • james

    The reason why they go full throttle no matter if they catch the cable or not.

  • leroy

    If you go over the side after a wire breaks you want to get airspeed as quickly as possible. Heads up flying and fast reflexes to bring the gear up ASAP.

    • Robert Kramer

      The time required to raise the gear is longer than the time it took them to establish a positive rate of climb. I was never a Hawkeye driver, but I doubt raising the gear is part of the “Aircraft Settling Off Catapult” checklist (closest thing to this situation). Also it takes time, much more than they had, to accelerate after achieving a clean configuration. The only thing the pilot could do was extract everything possible from the given situation (via excellent attitude and airspeed control) during the few seconds they had prior to impact. Job well done.

      • steve

        You are correct. Not sure about the E-2D, but I’m guessing the same is true for an E-2C, which I drove some years ago. The flaps would be down 2/3 for 27 knots wind over the deck. Power is held constant in the wires, not slammed forward, until it is obvious the plane is going flying again or is being pulled backward by the wire. In this case, the pilot would push the throttles to max power, race the co-pilot to the gear handle, and open his ditching hatch. The co-pilot would drop the flaps to full, race the pilot to the gear handle, and open his ditching hatch. Next, brace for impact and hope it doesn’t happen. Dropping the flaps to full dropped the stall speed, which would be fairly low because of the low fuel state. If the plane could stay airborne, it would be further helped by “ground effect” close to the surface, which decreases drag. Of course, all this happens pretty fast and no doubt they were VERY close to hitting the water. Superb job of flying by the aviators and superb job to the maintenance dept for giving them a good airplane to fly.

  • leroy

    Don’t get so excited! OK – good to know.

  • leroy

    It’s very hard to tell. If I were the pilot in command I’d have called for gear up the minute I left the deck. In that situation where the wire hung on so long before snapping they needed all the airspeed they could get. But perhaps you are right. Again – hard to tell.

  • leroy

    No – after looking at it again the gear is certainly up. It may have provided the margin of additional airspeed they needed.

  • FlPatriot98

    I feel sorry for the deck crew that got whacked by that ballistic cable whipping across the deck after it snapped!! I pray for their full recovery! Allot of them most likely have career ending injuries!!! So very sad because some of the crew failed to follow maintenance procedures which lead to this failure of the recovery system.

  • Archie Montgomery

    Stand by to thank God for low stall speed.