April 6th, 2012
05:35 PM ET

Navy jet crashes into apartments in Virginia

[Updated at 6:05 p.m. ET] A Navy fighter jet experienced a "catastrophic mechanical malfunction" during takeoff Friday over the military community of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and rained a stench of jet fuel shortly before crashing into apartment buildings, according to residents and Navy officials.

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The jet carried a student pilot in the front seat and an experienced instructor behind him, and the dumping of jet fuel was "one of the indications that there was a mechanical malfunction," Navy Capt. Mark Weisgerber told reporters.

The malfunction is being investigated, he said.

The two pilots, a police officer and three other people were taken to Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, Dr. Thomas Thames, the hospital's vice president of medical affairs, told CNN affiliate WAVY.

None of the injuries was considered life-threatening, Thames said.

Virginia Beach Mayor William Sessoms told CNN that nine people suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

The crash and explosion ruptured the easy mood of spring break and the unfolding Easter and Passover holiday weekend, and the two-seater F/A-18 jet landed eerily upright in flames in a courtyard surrounded by five apartment buildings suddenly set afire, according to residents and authorities.

The two crew members ejected safely, the Navy said. Resident Pat Kavanaugh told CNN affiliate WTKR that he and others found one of them still strapped to his seat with a lacerated face. Kavanaugh said he was on his couch when he heard a loud boom and was startled to see a parachute hanging from the building.

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soundoff (259 Responses)
  1. Valerie Jones

    I'm proud of our military, I respect and thank those who serve and we pray for all those affected by this horrible crash. HOWEVER. We live not far from this area and I have to tell you, the jets are getting bigger, louder, and flying lower than ever. They dump fuel on their approach to lighten their load to do touch and go maneuvers as they come in over the shoreline at the oceanfront (I'm at 40th). You can smell it. My ex was a pilot, he told me this is standard operating procedure. Townhouses a few blocks off the ocean had their roofs ruined by the dumped fuel and took the Navy to court, most of the homeowners got 10-30k a few years ago. Yes, we moved to this area knowing the jets were here, yes, we've become used to the noise and inconvenience, but with the increased frequency of flyovers, dozens in a day, sometimes until 1:30am, it's become only a matter of time, see this report on a jet "dropping" something http://www.wavy.com/dpp/military/Part-falls-off-Navy-fighter-jet-over-VB. A woman was killed by a Navy Jet crash in the London Bridge area some years ago, looking for the news item and will post.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sorry

    Sorry to ask if it's been posted, but I am trying to find this apartment on google maps - there are so many in the area. Which one is it? Address?

    April 6, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really Jersey

      1001 Fleming Circle, Virginia Beach, Va. 23451 It is just off Birdneck Road.

      April 6, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Teresa Yaeger

      Please google Mayfair Mews Apartments in Virginia Beach, VA you will find it there. I live here...Also it's near Birdneck Road

      April 6, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Really Jersey

    We used to live on Westminster Lane (also in the flight path from Oceana NAS) during assignment to Norfolk naval Station. I cannot say how many times Oceana planes passed overhead. Our thoughts & good wishes are with the naval aviators & the residents of the apartment complex. May they heal fully & quickly.
    From the witness statements, this is clearly not the pilot's fault... It could have been much worse if the fuel had not been dumped. They tried their best, it is just a shame it wasn't possible to make it out over the ocean. I hope they do not discover any fatalities when they search the buildings. If there are no fatalities... this is still a win. Good job avoiding a direct hit on the buildings in such a crowded neighborhood!

    April 6, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Chadwick Hattie

    I'm not surprised at the opinion from the civilian "tennis player". These pilots are the best in the world, and would sacrifice their lives if it would mean saving those on the ground. Having been a Naval F-14 mechanic and worked with these professionals for years, I only partly understand the risks they take on a daily basis, just getting into these high performance aircraft. Tennis guy has his opinion and his right to it but flying low and banking and rolling is what these pilots do everyday and they pose no more danger to the public then the airliners landing in the neighborhood of the major airport. Accidents happen and they will find the problem and fix it. By the way, getting in your car and driving to work will always be more dangerous than living at the end of any military runway. I'd put my trust in them before I put it in tennis guy in his car. I hope all is well with the crew and those on the ground.

    April 6, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Teresa Yaeger

    This is for Shannon who says there isn't a Downtown Va Beach and she lives here...umm I've been here 42 years and when they built up the Pembroke Mall area...that is on Independence Blvd and Virginia Beach Blvd btw...You know the "Town Center" area? You can't miss it it's the HUGE building near the taco bell and near Columbus Station Apartments? That is considered Downtown Virgina Beach. : }

    April 6, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Guyswoman

    Oh Please Mr. tennis player! While you are out there knocking the ball around the courts, my NAVY son is in Afghanistan saving the life of a Staff Sergeant who lost a limb when he stepped on an IED. And guess who came in to give them air support when they were ambushed by insurgents???? You bet your **s it was the Blackhawks and F 18's who train at our bases around the world. I think we can put up with a little noise and "low flying" now and again so that you can finish your game!

    April 6, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. FREE MP4/3GP VIDEOS FOR FREE, 4 ADULT ONLY

    hmm wat a great lost.

    April 6, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. citizen

    Plenty of sea trials back in the day in the VA Capes. With so much flight activity out of Oceana it was bound to happen.
    Miss that place. Hope all is well.
    Got to love the guy for apologizing.

    April 6, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    >>>Dis Jus In<<<

    Virginia apartments crash into Navy jet

    April 6, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    More like catastrophic failure of the Navys PM program.

    April 6, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Same mentality...different day. "Run 'em till they break"

    April 6, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Really Jersey

    It's officially being called a catastrophic mechanical malfunction by the Navy spokesperson. A student pilot & an experienced instructor were taking off from Oceana when the jet went FUBAR in a mechanical sense. They did the best they could & I salute them.

    April 6, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. wine photographer

    I have been exploring for a bit for any high-quality articles or weblog posts in this kind of area . Exploring in Yahoo I finally stumbled upon this site. Studying this info So i'm happy to exhibit that I have an incredibly just right uncanny feeling I came upon exactly what I needed. I so much indisputably will make sure to don?t forget this site and give it a glance on a constant basis.

    April 6, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ronvan

    SO HAPPY & THANKFUL: Got up this morning expecting to hear of deaths! NONE!!! ABSOULTY WONDERFUL!
    Yes, tennis man has a right to his opinion, but I TOTALLY agree that these 2 pilots will be credited with some extraordinary human reactions. I can only imagine how they were reacting, knowing that their aricraft was going down and they could do nothing to avoid it! YET, it appears that their minds, working at warp 10, considering all their options, had the foresight to dump fuel!? Again the statement from one of the witnesses that the one pilot said he was so sorry. Just another indicator of just how great these people are! And lets give some very big KUDOS to those first responders, and just normal everyday citizens, who reacted without hesitation!

    April 7, 2012 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
  15. saywhat

    We should all be thankful that there was no loss of life reported . This could have ended in a terrible terrible tragedy.

    April 7, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
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