Category Archives: Aviation Safety

Patrouille Suisse jet crashes after collision at Leeuwarden airbase. Fourth incident in one week

Unbelievable coincidence. It’s the fourth incident to a military aerobatic display team in one week, the second today!

On Jun. 9, two Swiss Air Force F-5 belonging to the Patrouille Suisse aerobatic display team collided during a practice display at Leeuwarden air base, in the Netherlands.

One of the Tiger jets managed to land in spite of the damages whereas the other aircraft crashed: fortunately, the pilot was able to eject from the plane suffering only few cuts and bruises.

It’s the first serious incident in the history of the Swiss team, founded in 1964.

What makes the incident somehow shocking is that it occurred on the same day a Su-27 Flanker of the Russian Knights crashed in Russia causing the death of its pilot and one week after two almost simultaneous incidents to the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and the U.S. Navy Blue Angels: on Jun. 2, a Thunderbirds F-16 crashed near Colorado Springs with the pilot successful ejecting from the aircraft and, a few hours later on the same day Blue Angels Opposing Solo crashed during a display practice in Tennessee, killing the pilot, USMC Capt. Jeff Kuss.

What’s the odds of four incidents occurring to four display teams in one week? It’s surely an unlucky period.

The Aviationist’s contributor Jacek Siminski was at Leeuwarden today and took the above image of the second F-5 about to land at Leeuwarden with a damaged horizontal stabilizer.

Su-27 Flanker of the Russian Knights aerobatic team crashes in Russia. Pilot killed.

It’s not a good period for military aerobatic teams.

A Su-27 Flanker belonging to the Russian Knights aerobatic team crashed on Jun. 9 in Russia, killing the pilot, TASS news agency reported.

According to the first reports, the jet crashed in a forest located about 2 km from the village of Muranovo, in western Russia, after taking part with the rest of the aerobatic team to a flyover of the nearby monument to aviators in Ashukino, a ceremony attended by Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov and Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Air Force Viktor Bondarev.

One week ago, on Jun. 2, a Thunderbirds F-16 crashed near Colorado Springs after a flyover during the Air Force graduation ceremony attended by President Obama. The pilot managed to eject from the aircraft. On the same day a Blue Angels F/A-18C Hornet crashed during a display practice in Tennessee, killing the pilot: USMC Capt. Jeff Kuss.

Image credit: Dmitry A. Mottl / Wiki

New video shows Blue Angel #6 crashing in Smyrna, Tennessee

A new video that appears to show the Blue Angels crash in Tennessee has been posted online.

A new video uploaded to Youtube yesterday seems to show the deadly crash that killed Capt. Jeff Kuss, Blue Angel #6 during a practice flight at the Smyrna Airport, Tennessee, on Jun. 2.

The clip shows the Lead and Opposing solo depart: whilst the #5 performs the dirty roll, the #6 performs a low transition and at 285 KCAS he pulls to 70 degrees nose up. According to the Blue Angels Maneuvers Manual at a minimum of 3,500 feet, he would roll the aircraft 180 degrees and complete a Split S reversal.

The footage shows the doomed Hornet almost leveling off at the end of the maneuver beyond the trees before a smoke and fireball is caused by the impact with the ground.

Did the pilot reach the required 3,500 feet? Did something else fail? Did the pilot suffer a G-LOC (G-force induced Loss of consciousness)?

The video does not help answering those questions, still it provides some new details about the deadly crash.

H/T to our pal Tyler Rogoway at The War Zone for posting the video.

 

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In a bizarre coincidence Blue Angels F/A-18 and a Thunderbirds F-16 crash on the very same day

Two crashes from the two premiere demo team in the U.S. on the very same day.

In what is a really incredible coincidence, a U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds F-16 and a U.S. Navy Blue Angels F/A-18 have crashed on Jun. 2, 2016.

The first incident occurred to the Thunderbirds F-16 shortly after the demo team performed a flyover at the annual Air Force graduation ceremony in Colorado Springs, attended by President Barack Obama.

The pilot managed to eject before the aircraft crash landed (based on the photos that have emerged online) in a field not far from Peterson AFB, Colorado. According to the reports the jets involved in the incident is #6 that is assigned to Maj. Alex Turner a pilot with 1,200 flight hours and more than 270 combat hours over Libya and Iraq, at its first display season with the team.

As the news of the Thunderbirds was starting to make the rounds, a U.S. Navy Blue Angels Hornet
crashed after takeoff during a practice flight around 3 p.m. local in Tennessee.

The first photographs that have emerged online show a fireball and thick black plume of smoke just beyond the runway at Smyrna Airport. Unfortunately, the pilot did not make it and was killed in the incident.

 

All other Blue Angels aircraft landed safely.

Needless to say, military jets are involved in air crashes all around the world every now and then. The odds of two incidents occurring on the very same day (1 hour apart) at the two U.S. military demo teams  solos (looks like both were #6) was unbelievably low. Until it happened today.

Jun. 2, 2016 will be remembered as one of the most unusual (and sad) days in the history of U.S. military aviation.

Top image (right) credit: @HalieShults 

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The F-35A has started tailhook testing at Edwards AFB

Even the conventional variant of the Joint Strike Fighter must be prepared to use the tailhook to face directional control issues or braking failures.

Tailhook landings by land-based aircraft are used in emergency situations to arrest a plane experiencing a failure that could imply a braking malfunction.

That’s why almost all U.S. combat aircraft have a tailhook, including the U.S. Air Force’s new F-35A Joint Strike Fighter.

According to an Air Force release, the JSF Integrated Test Force have started the first set of tests for the F-35A’s tailhook at Edwards Air Force Base, California. Although F-35s have landed using a tailhook before, they did not catch the arresting wire at the speeds and weights being tested now.

F-35A tailhook tests

Since the tailhooks on the land-based aircraft are used rarely, they are designed as a one-time use device, as opposed to the Navy tailhooks. For this reason the F-35C (the carrier variant used by the Navy) has a significantly more robust tailhook that can be used for several thousands deploy-engage-retract-stow cycles.

The initial testing saw the F-35A AF-04 from the 461st FLTS (Flight Test Squadron) reach 180 knots over the ground, deploy the hook to catch an arresting cable in place and safely come to a stop.

The procedure was filmed by high-speed cameras for later review while telemetry data was collected.

“In the big picture, the F-35A tailhook is designed to stop the jet in an emergency primarily,” said Maj. Corey Florendo, 461st Flight Test Squadron project test pilot. “We have to make sure the system works as designed and as specified. We’re out there to verify the performance of the system, up to and including the worst case conditions we can possibly envision.”

According to the U.S. Air Force AF-04 had several successful engagements with the tailhook and arresting cable, which will clear the path for additional tests coming up, including different set ups (for instance with the plane not in the center of the runway).

F-35A tailhook emergency vehicles

Image credit: U.S. Air Force