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.


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.

soundoff (259 Responses)
  1. Beach Girl

    As a VB local, I can say the whole city is on edge. This is our worst nightmare come true. Praying for any victims AND for the pilots who did what they could to stop it from being more tragic.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mac

    hey america, you pray for a few ppl to be alive? how about the tens of thousands you killed in iraq/afghanistan?? too bad it wasnt a larger plane

    April 6, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • midranger

      Bite me........ have you not yet figured out the fact that we don't give a crap about you or your bassackward armpit of a country!

      April 6, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      @mac ... Hope one of our bombs finds you. 🙂

      April 6, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Teresa Yaeger

      Can we go back to where this all started??? The total count of people, who died on 9/11 were 2,976. Out of the fatal victims 236 were foreigners, which makes the total number of Americans who died to 2,740. In a series of orchestrated suicide attacks committed by the Al-Qaeeda, on the morning of September 11, 2001, the victims were mainly civilians.

      April 6, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jenny G

    @ Mac

    "there ya go finally! karma for the pilot! its what you get for training for war! Hope hes dead"

    What a horrendous thing to say...go f*** yourself.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Church of Suicidal

      Please don't feed the troll.

      April 6, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Retired Army

    @Monkin & Chuck – I'd like to take the both of you into a locked room for some wall to wall counseling. To bad you we have to defend people like you.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Teresa Yaeger

      THANK YOU FOR SERVING!!! I will gladly go with you into that room to assist!

      April 6, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jerica smith

    Funny isnt it how that little f18 smashed into an apartment building at an amazing speed and quite clearly there is visible wreckage . when we are all supposed believe that a passenger jetliner smashed into the pentagon when there was zero visible wreckage Kmonnnn . i smell B.S!

    April 6, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan


      April 6, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • David M

      @jerica smith.....Yeah, you just keep working on that conspiracy theory. Never mind all the eye witnesses. I'm sure they all got together and made it all up. You may want to invest in a better tin hat. The one you have is clearly not working well. Also, I suggest you move to North Korea where everything is done in the open and there are not cover-ups. Remember, Delta is ready when you are. Don't keep them waiting.

      April 6, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vidhya

      @jerica smith – I take it you haven't studied Newton's second law of motion

      April 6, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      First of all, the story implies that it wasn't at an amazing speed (Nose up, tail down). Second, the witness in the story said the jet was jettisoning its fuel. Hmmm, I'm no rocket scientist, but that tells me that less fuel = less damage.

      Unlike on 9/11, a jetliner with a FULL fuel load at an "amazing speed". Big difference.

      April 6, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trainer

      There is a huge difference in the type of building materials involved. Numerous layers of 15 foot thick concrete will withstand and shred the aluminum skin of an aircraft of any type, whereas the frame construction of an apartment building is no match for the thousands of pounds of metal that is dropped on it, or the hundreds, if not thousand of gallons of fuel and the resulting fire.

      April 6, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • dmm1

      Amazing speed? It was flying nose up, you don't go at amazing speed in that configuration. It was dumping fuel, thus less for the explosion. The plane that flew into the Pentagon was at full speed and was not dumping fuel to lessen the explosion.

      April 6, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really Jersey

      The fighter dumped the fuel before crashing because there was a real pilot instead of sniveling cowards at the controls, little girl. A fighter jet is small in comparison to a large passenger jet which carries an extremely large load of highly explosive fuel . Now run along child...The grown ups are busy discussing important things & are bored with your attention seeking antics.

      April 6, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Get a grip people

    That pizza delivery joke was very funny. You can make a offhanded joke and still be concerned/respectful/etc.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tater

    I'm a pilot and know things can go extremely bad extremely fast. I'm sure the pilot did everything he could to point the aircraft away from a more populated area before departing the aircraft. I hope the Navy will take care of the victims by providing housing to the homeless while they rebuild. I hope no one on the ground was seriously injured.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jenny G

    I don't know any American that prays for Afghani or Iraqi civilians to be harmed. Only mindf***s such as yourself believe that nonsense.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Roger Martin

    It HAS happened before there but not recently.Back in the 60's I lived in Hampton Va,and a jet got in trouble out over water,the pilot ejected thinking the aircraft would go down long before it made landfall.It didnt,and crashed into a housing project in Hampton Va, Killing a new mother and her infant.Best I can recall (and its been a LONG time,all they ever found of the infant was an ear.This is sad,and lame jokes are uncalled for.But our service folks HAVE to practice,its the only way we can be ready when their needed.And remember, they have to try to fill the large void of the cowards that spend their day sitting in judgment on the computer ,instead of going out and being of service to their country.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom Taylor

      You have my full suppot Roger

      April 6, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Teresa Yaeger

      Thank you for the information Roger. What brought you to Hampton Roads? So, I was correct in saying that there hasn't been anything like this before in my life.

      April 6, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • NoodleHat

      Was that pilot charged for two counts of homicide? Definitely should have been. Should've crashed it into the water while he was still in it.

      April 6, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. J

    "George Pilkington, an eye witness to the crash, said he was the plane flying low"

    He was?!

    April 6, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  11. SuzieB

    I'm from the area too. I'm hoping many residents of the apartment complex were at work, but what scares me is that all of our schoolchildren started spring break today and aren't in school.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. IntlPol101

    It was from Fighter Strike Squadron 106, out of Oceana. The apartment complex is off Birdneck Rd, close to the oceanfront. One of the flight crew is at the hospital now, and another person was just brought in, according to Wavy 10.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CJ

    I hope everyone is ok? God bless our sailors, soldiers, airmen and marines.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Teresa Yaeger

    Thank GOD for their special training!! They fly all the time here...the saying goes " I LOVE JET NOISE!" Locals here know what I am talking about! If anyone wants to know how we here in the Hampton Roads area feel about OUR service members here...We ALL are a community together! We have the WORLDS LARGEST NAVAL BASE! NOB, NAB, Dam Neck, Ft. Eustis, Yorktown...etc More...And this one OCEANA. If anyone wants to listen to what is going on you can download an app I have 5-0 Radio and tune into Unites States-Virginia-Virginia Beach Fire and EMS. Currently 2,435 listeners.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Earnest T Bass

    This brings back my nightmares of the S3 crash on board the USS America in 1978.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
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