Sunday, April 22, 2007
Blue Angel Crash, MCAS Beaufort, SC
Last Maneuver, 4-21-07. Plane No. 6, just above center of photo, crashed about 2 minutes later.
Smoke rises over treetops, Beaufort, SC, 4-21-07. Plane No. 6 had been banking through turns over the neighborhood, then disappeared below the treeline.
My daughter, granddaughter, and I saw these fellows doing the same routines over her little cottage in Tucson last month. We loved it. The pilots appeared to be doing a bit of hotdogging over the Univ. of Ariz. campus area at that time. I joked that they were probably just tweaking the college liberals.
This is *a very strange incident.* These planes are maintained in absolute top condition, the pilots are the best of the best, and the maneuvers, while noisy to both the willing and the unwilling spectators, are not that dangerous. The ship that crashed was flying solo...not in formation, so a midair collision is not a factor. I suspect somebody on the ground could have played a role.
[Edit: 10-11-08, The "not that dangerous" comment referred to the solo stunting being done across Tucson that day, not the formation flying done as part of their exhibition. Those maneuvers are breathtaking, as anyone knows who's seen them.]
We'll never know.
I don't expect any conclusions to come out of the Navy other than "pilot error."