Category Archives: Aviation Safety

F-22 Raptor grounded by swarm of almost 20,000 bees

A swarm of honey bees found hanging from the exhaust nozzle of an F-22 Raptor stealth jet’s engine.

On Jun. 11, 192nd Fighter Wing Aircraft Maintainers found something weird during post-flight operations checks at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia: a swarm of honey bees hanging from the exhaust nozzle of an F-22 Raptor engine.

192nd Fighter Wing Aircraft Maintainers found a swarm of honey bees hanging from the exhaust nozzle of an F-22 Raptor engine on June 11, 2016 at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. A local honey bee keeper was called to remove and relocate the bees to a safe place for them to build their hive. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

192nd Fighter Wing Aircraft Maintainers found a swarm of honey bees hanging from the exhaust nozzle of an F-22 Raptor engine on June 11, 2016 at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. A local honey bee keeper was called to remove and relocate the bees to a safe place for them to build their hive. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

“A cloud of thousands of bees” according to the 192nd Maintenance Squadron crew chief who was there.

Maintainers notified Capt. Katie Chiarantona, 192nd Aircraft Maintenance Officer about the honey bee swarm explains a USAF news release.

Since this had never happened on the flight line before, Chiarantona initially called the on-base entomologist to assess the situation. The entomologist immediately knew that he did not have the means to relocate the bees, so he referred Chiarantona to a local honey bee keeper in Hampton, Virginia.

Andy Westrich, U.S. Navy retired and local bee keeper, arrived on base with the needed materials and supplies. According to Chiarantona, Westrich said the swarm was one of the largest he had ever seen. He was escorted to the aircraft and used vacuum hoses to safely corral the honey bees off of the aircraft into large buckets. He then took the bee’s home and found that, as a hive, they weighed eight pounds which calculates to almost 20,000 bees!

“The honey bees most likely came from a much larger bee hive somewhere else on base,” said Chief Master Sergeant Gregg Allen, 192nd Maintenance Group Quality Assurance chief, who also happens to be a bee keeper. “Bee hives are constantly growing and they eventually become overcrowded. Around springtime, the bees will make a new queen, scout for a new location and take half of the hive with them to that location.”

Westrich suspected that the swarm of bees were on their way to a new location to build a hive for their queen. Queen bees typically fly with eggs to lay at the new hive and do not eat for up to 10 days before leaving to start a new colony. As a result, the queen is often malnourished for the journey. Westrich believes she landed on the F-22 to rest. Honey bees do not leave the queen, so they swarmed around the F-22 and eventually landed there.

According to Chiarantona “[Westrich] said that one out of two things could have happened, the queen would have rested and gained energy and the swarm would’ve left in the morning, or they would have decided that the jet engine would be a great place to build a hive.”

Westrich was able to safely relocate the colony to a local beer producer where they will maintain the honey bee colony and use the honey for their production facility.
“Every bee is important to our food source; lots of things would die without bees,” said Baskin. “Most of our crops depend on bees, and our bees need to pollinate. This is why I knew we needed to save them instead of [exterminate] them.”

192nd Fighter Wing Aircraft Maintainers found a swarm of honey bees hanging from the exhaust nozzle of an F-22 Raptor engine on June 11, 2016 at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. Andy Westrich, U.S. Navy retired and local honey bee keeper, was called to remove and relocate the bees to a safe place for them to build their hive. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

192nd Fighter Wing Aircraft Maintainers found a swarm of honey bees hanging from the exhaust nozzle of an F-22 Raptor engine on June 11, 2016 at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. Andy Westrich, U.S. Navy retired and local honey bee keeper, was called to remove and relocate the bees to a safe place for them to build their hive. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

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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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