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

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

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.

7 Comments

  1. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

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