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. the truth

    The truth is that most of you people commenting will NEVER be in a position this pilot was in, why? Because you are losers at home commenting on a story and negatively at that.. It honestly comes across as jealousy. You will ever amount to 1/10 of this pilots life. You wish you could be a pilot that was trusted with a few million dollar machine. When in doubt always remember, a pilot that crashed his f-18 is worth more on this one sad day of his life, than you will be for your entire life. Sorry but thats my truth. Best luck to the pilot and any injuries on the ground, my prayers are with you.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Penny

    Thank God no one on the ground was hurt. Hopefully the pilots are found and un hurt. God Bless our military!

    April 6, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Nature's Awe

    I'm a Navy mom also but on the West Coast. East/West, we're all one family prayer together for safety and holding our breath when things like this happen. Prayers for all in the air and on the ground. Thank you to all of those who support our families – and those that don't, well there's plenty of room in other Countries. Go ahead, give it a try.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Captain Kirk

      Please stop with the God nonsense. This is called mechanical failure. No God involved before, during or after.

      April 6, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. panzerman13

    I hope mac gets his on the way home tonight, a one car accident with lots of fire for him would do nicely.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Stephen

    Off of Birdneck Rd, I believe. Of course it was bound to happen, the city has been building on the bases designated crash area for over a decade.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Teresa Yaeger

      Stephen you are so right. The Navy has been trying to tell them that for years.

      April 6, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really Jersey

      I agree Steven. The city has ignored repeated warnings from the Navy about this issue. The city of Virginia Beach has been told that allowing high density housing in the flight path was dangerous. This same possible scenario was being debated openly in the newspapers back when my 22 year old was born at Virginia Beach General, when the residents were complaining about noise along the flight path during the touch & go landing exercises. Oceana's mission has included training pilots since the beginning. Residents are lucky this pilot was a credit to their training!

      April 6, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Captain Kirk

    I assume I'm not the only one who thinks MAC has aidz, right?

    April 6, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JWD

    The majority of posters are rational, compassionate people who honestly care about what is going on with the victims etc. The rational and compassionate feel the need to stick up for the 'defenseless' in this situation, and play right into the hands of the trolls. It's a cycle that won't end, but the 'troll' who posts only to incite a reaction will always be a POS, most likely unloved and uncared for as a child, and willing to do anything for attention, be it positive or negative.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. mac

    bahaha too bad it wasnt iran/north korea/or china bombing you! its what really should happen

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

      Your aidz is flaring up brutally. Take a nap or something.

      April 6, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • cloudraptor

      F.uck you. Seriously.

      April 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Marty

    Some sort of catastrophic mechanical failure – these guys will do anything to avoid civilian casualties... only ejecting when there's nothing else they can do. My prayers to the pilots and the families of those on the ground.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Martha

    Pilots were quoted as apologizing that they couldn't avoid the building-Navy said the jet had just taken off.

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

      Eyewitness saw sparks coming from the engine before crash.

      April 6, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Nature's Awe

    @JWD, good post and very accurate. Thank you

    April 6, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. TvNyC

    God bless all the good people.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Stango

    Hugh Myron will burn in hell.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. the truth

    nice that my taxes are being used to pay for trash like MAC's computer

    April 6, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Carole Clarke

    Sounds like he was trying to get it out over the water before he bailed and it didn't quite make it. This is the price of training and everyone in the service knows it. When a machine fails at that speed it happens within a few seconds. If he had time to dump fuel to lessen the explosion, he had a little more time and was doing the right things to mitigate his situation. Those guys train to live on the tip of the spear. That's why we are #1 on this planet.

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