An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 113 experienced an engine fire following a touch-and-go landing aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) April 11. The pilot was able to execute a single-engine approach and land on board. Upon landing, the aircraft fuselage became engulfed in flames. Carl Vinson’s Crash and Salvage team, assigned to Air Department’s V-1 Division, responded immediately with the P-25 mobile fire fighting vehicle along with the flight deck emergency hose team. The aircraft fire was extinguished using aqueous film forming foam (AFFF), and the pilot exited the plane uninjured. No flight deck personnel were injured in the mishap.
An awful lot of training goes into developing this kind of teamwork. All of it time wasted until the moment that it isn’t.
You’ll note that the first responders used high pressure water to beat the flames back away from the cockpit and fuel tanks, while the hose runners used AFFF to suffocate the fuel-fed fire.
To the reader: I came across this on what was a great blog, Ask the Skipper, back in 2016. The owner of the blog soon after stopped blogging, citing the amount of time it took to have a good blog. Looking at the thousands of posts Neptunus Lex made in 9 years, I came to realize just how much effort Hizzoner put into his own blog.
Anyway, I saved the post, and in going through my documents folder last night, got reacquainted with it. If the owner of Ask the Skipper ever comes across this and wants it removed, I will be glad to do so. All credit goes to this unknown author at Ask the Skipper.
In the meantime, I will leave it to you, the reader, to ascertain whether “Tex” is indeed “Lex”.
It was the 90s. The angst-ridden, caffeine-fueled sound of Seattle’s grunge-scene was oozing its way across the American landscape, what with all their flannel shirts, exposed long-underwear, and boots. The kind of boots you’d typically see on a homophobe, neo-Nazi, construction worker, or some combination of the three. I don’t know what Smells Like Teen Spirit, but I have a sneaking suspicion it has little to do with deodorant.
We were underway in the East China Sea, or the Sea of Japan, or the Yellow Sea, or the Western Pacific Ocean. One of those. There was water everywhere, and you couldn’t see land. Of that I am certain.
It wasn’t necessarily his last flight evah. It was his last flight in that particular tour of duty, in that squadron, on that boat. Then again, there was certainly no guarantee of another sea-based sortie. This fella – if I remember the callsign correctly – we will refer to as Tex from this point forward. His callsign sounded similar. It might have even rhymed.
Let’s see if we can build a good mind picture for you.
You are strapped into an ejection seat with a solid fuel rocket a foot under your butt. A few feet behind you sits 3 tons of JP-5 jet fuel. You are surrounded by the technological trappings of your craft – radio crackling in your helmet, the soft hiss of oxygen flowing into your mask. The verbiage of naval aviation is echoing in your ears – terms, phrases, and queries such as “Closeout, interrogative Texaco” or “Strike, Cams are joined” or (of course) “Fights on!”. You have the world’s most powerful air-to-air radar in the nose of your jet and your mind is wrapped around things like azimuth, altitudes, ranges, speed, target aspect, reciprocals, reattacks and a dozen other things related to your job. Tactics, or how you would direct the initial stages of an intercept, are foremost in your mind. You have a half-dozen or so different panels surrounding you with about 30 or 40 switches and knobs and dials and indicators, all serving some function or other that contribute to your mission.
Your nose gunner, aka the pilot, puts that big jet into a bit of a starboard turn, gradually building up to 4 or 5 Gs. Your G-suit inflates, and that familiar but unique feeling of pressure builds up on your legs and abdomen. You unconsciously and instinctively tighten your leg muscles, pressing down on the floorboard of the cockpit, and you tighten your stomach muscles to work on keeping that blood flowing to your head, lest the G forces drain that big lump of gray matter on top of your shoulders of the blood needed to keep it awake and alert.
The sun is headed down, and you’ve been in the air for an hour or two. You’ve probably plugged into a tanker once – or twice – and watching those fuel tapes and calculating what you have (fuel on board) compared to what you need (fuel on deck) is an ongoing, never ending exercise.
In the middle of all this, your head itches from sweat, your backside is sore from a seat pad that is made by the lowest bidder, you missed evening chow because of some detail that had to be attended to with your OTHER job (“collateral duty”, its amusingly called), when you pull your head out of the cockpit and see the sunset. Colors, reds and oranges and the darkening blues of the approaching night skies meet your eyes. Yeah, these are the moments that make this whole thing priceless.
This was posted on one of the social media sites, and I think it is too good just to disappear. With Pinch’s permission, here it is.
Just finished an interesting article in the latest Smithsonian Air and Space magazine. The Navy’s F/A-18 Super Hornet will be getting an extensive retrofit giving it more range and even though it is a “4th Generation” fighter, some stealthy qualities even though that was not in the initial design.
But through avionics change, it will gain some of that invisibility.
Another interesting bit? At $10,500/hour, it costs less than a third to run as the new F-35.
I’m sure Hizzoner would have had a lot to say about it.
I guess you could say these are a 4th generation Hornet, following the original single seat Legacy version, to the dual seat FA-18E, to the Super Hornet (about 25% bigger) to this revised version.
…a Super Hornet coming off the Boeing assembly line in St. Louis today is not at all like the Super Hornet I last flew in 1998″.
Seems like an intelligent way of utilizing technological improvements to an original airframe without the huge expense of designing a new airframe.
Lex had an interesting history on the original Hornet. Not a bad ending for the “loser” of the original competition. The winner didn’t do to badly, either.
For Systems Architecture, subject “Modeling” – in case you were curious (many pretty pictures for the bandwidth constrained to beetle their Luddite brows over):
In 1972, the US Air Force went to the aviation industry with Request for Proposals for a new, lightweight fighter design. Northrop contended with the YF-17, while General Dynamics competed with the ultimately successful F-16 design. Although not successful in the USAF’s lightweight fighter competition, the YF-17 had desirable characteristics satisfying the US Navy’s emergent requirement for a high volume, “low end” strike fighter to replace both the F-4 and A-7 aircraft, especially on the Navy’s smaller, conventional aircraft carriers – ships like USS Coral Sea and Midway – whose flight decks were not large enough to accommodate the “high end” fleet air defense aircraft, the F-14 Tomcat.
I’m on the early page it seems, with the 0515 brief burned into my forehead. And the late go as well, so long as your definition of “late” is expansive enough to admit a 1215 brief, 1400 take-off, and 1500 land. With the debrief to follow. Well within the limits of crew day, mind. But a 0415 wake-up, day after day, is rough country for old men.
Especially when, as it was today, the whole thing seems to be for naught.