I was severely chastised about having that God-awful Obama image up a week and a half after the election. So, instead of PICKING something new, I’m just going to go into my archives of naval aviation images and pick one at random – eyes closed, spin the mouse roller and see where we end up! A picture of a bucket of prop wash would be better that what is there now…so here goes:
Ahhh…..serendipitous! One I haven’t posted before Nov 21st, 1988. Low level over Sardinia in bad weather ended up with much of the airwing returning to the ship with salt spray on their windscreens. Jim “Rev” Jones and I landed about 3rd or 4th – with a bunch of right rudder in so Rev could see the deck. We skidded a bit on the icy deck as they shut us down, our nose along the foul line just ahead of the island. Dave “Hooter” Hoffman was coming in a few aircraft later and landed right of center line – and this is his wingtip after it slammed into our nose on a bolter. He took off again and they sent all remaining aircraft – including him – to a French base at Hyeres, France. This was taken the next morning. I can’t remember how they fixed the wing – if they had to replace the whole piece or if it was just the wingtip they were able to replace/repair. Perhaps some airframes guys can weigh in on that.
I kept a journal during that 88-89 Med cruise. It was nothing big – just my thoughts and observations of a first cruise LT. This was the entry for that day:
21 Nov 88
Busy, exciting, dangerous day. Weather bad – temps around 35 degrees, wind at 50 knots plus! Launched on a Low Level with Jim with Dave Hoffman and Boog as wingman and couldn’t finish the LL due to weather. Our INS was dicked up (no IMU or capability for SINS data), plus salt spray encrusted the front windscreen (after we launched!). Returned overhead with 51 knot winds down the deck. With little or no visibility out the front, we waved off our own first pass, and had LSOs talk us down after that. Weird in the pattern – fast on downwind and slow in the groove. Anxiety/comfort level high/low. We grabbed a 4 wire, only because the 20 foot up and down movement of the deck was coming up. We slid twice on the deck, nearly impacting a F-14 next to us. Parked on the foul line, Hooter came in for a pass and boltered (scared to death – me!) (watching from the deck). He came in for a second pass (third actually – he had a FDWO first), had a boat full of right rudder in so he could see, LSO helping a bit (small bit), he landed right and his right wingtip (2 1/2 feet) hit our radome, taking all but a foot away (a 6′ radome). He boltered, minus the right wingtip, and successfully diverted to Hyeres. Jim and I were 3 feet, or 36″ away from a possible fireball! We shut down and egressed soon after as there was a FOD walkdown to collect all the pieces. I was scared sitting there, nothing we could do, and I could see this wingtip at 150 knots coming at us. Handled well by all involved.
LSOs will probably be at fault as well as Hooter. He said he couldn’t see and since he’s only been with us for 3 weeks, something else should have been done. (in retrospect, of course). Didn’t start thinking about how close it was till much later. If he was 3 feet farther right, his wingtip would have hit the airframe part instead of a hollow fiberglass radome, probably causing his plane to pivot into the pack, as well as probably sending our plane along with it. He scraped two other F-14 radomes to our left, and if he had hit those the same way he would have pivoted and hit our plane broadside. I couldn’t sleep so rode the bike for 30 minutes around 1 am. Finally got to sleep and felt much better the next day.
On the 22nd, Jim and I had a 2v2 vs French F-8s from France (Foch had sent her fighters to beach – too much for them to fly in this weather!) Had Foch control, which was as bad as Egyptian and Italian control (“Garibaldi School of AIC”). Had 1 run, we shot them good pre and post merge, but one still got on our tail for guns, guns, guns (ie: didn’t honor our kill calls).
Still operated good concerning previous days events and a overall screwed up hop. Jim and I flew again at night (pinky actually), some 2v2 w/ an A-6 as our wingman! Had a good pass back home, and Jim said I did a hell of a job keeping him honest on the approach (yea!) (after a wave-off and a bolter this afternoon). Napped in PM, watched AU-Florida tape later on, awaiting pierside Marseilles tomorrow. We earned our money these past two days.
Warts and all! Funny re-reading that, 24 years later, with the “experienced observations” of a first-cruise lieutenant , exclamation points and all. We were still shutting down the aircraft when we were hit, so we were obviously still in the aircraft,, strapped in, canopy down. I don’t know, looking back at that, if those “fireball” concerns would have been realized had be been a bit farther to the right, but I can tell you it was rather sporty that afternoon!
And for reminders, here is what OUR nose looked like after that event: