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Twentynine Palms F-18 crash caused by low hours, poor runway lighting

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posted on Jan, 17 2018 @ 07:18 PM
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The F-18 that crashed on the runway at Twentynine Palms, on October 25, 2016 was a result of a below average pilot, with low flight hours, and the runway lights not being activated at the time. The pilot was returning from an urban close air support exercise, and was attempting to land at sunset. He mistook a dirt section of the runway and parallel taxiway, and was confused by the flashing lights of a flight of helicopters, resulting in a loss of control as he touched down. The flight lead had requested that the lights be turned on, which was SOP, but control of the lights wasn't in the tower, so it could take up to 10 minutes to turn the lights on.

The Mishap Pilot had consistently received below average marks in pilot training, and had recently missed several flight simulator sessions due to being on leave. At least one of the simulator flights would have dealt with takeoff and landing at the field. In the previous 9 months he averaged 7.1 flight hours a month, compared to the squadron average of 9.4. The month before the accident he received a "retry" score on a second attempt at a night flying exercise, with the same score in a general purpose simulator for close air support.


A 2016 F/A-18C Hornet crash was the result of errors made by a below-average, inexperienced pilot, and runway lighting issues, a Marine Corps investigation has concluded.

On Oct. 25, 2016, an F/A-18C with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 crashed on the runway at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, causing the pilot to eject. The pilot survived and was treated at the Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital on base.

“Two primary factors led to unrecognized loss of [situational awareness]: 1) the approach and airfield lighting not being turned on at sunset; 2) and his relatively low proficiency and flight experience,” the investigation reads.

www.marinecorpstimes.com...


edit on 1/17/2018 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)

edit on 1/17/2018 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)




posted on Jan, 17 2018 @ 07:36 PM
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i personally dont blame the pilot after hearing all the factors. i blame whoever was responsible for him being put in a plane and forced to land in such conditions. id like to know why the lights werent on at the airfield or some sort of procedure put in place to turn them on quickly when they need them. i could see this as one of those cases where its either u sink or swim and he sunk, like a rock. btw i was shocked to hear just how little they actually fly at that point. 9 hours avg in a year. id have expected it to be 10x that much. lotsa training to get through i guess.
edit on 17-1-2018 by TheScale because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 17 2018 @ 07:47 PM
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a reply to: TheScale

I corrected that, it should have been 7.1 hours a month, not for the year. The squadron average was 9.4 a month.

As for the lights, they were supposed to be turned on at sunset, per procedure, but since they weren't located at the tower, they were usually turned on at request, so that NVG training was affected by having them on.
edit on 1/17/2018 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 17 2018 @ 09:49 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58



As for the lights, they were supposed to be turned on at sunset, per procedure, but since they weren't located at the tower, they were usually turned on at request

Why the hell would they be manually controlled instead of on photocell sensors?



posted on Jan, 17 2018 @ 09:50 PM
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a reply to: Vector99

Because the base does a lot of NVG training. Having the lights come on and stay on limits the ability to do that training.



posted on Jan, 17 2018 @ 10:05 PM
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originally posted by: Zaphod58
a reply to: Vector99

Because the base does a lot of NVG training. Having the lights come on and stay on limits the ability to do that training.

I guess that makes sense, it just seems for safety purposes you would want the lights normally controlled automatically with manual override controls used to operate lighting during exercises.



posted on Jan, 17 2018 @ 10:13 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

At non military fields that have runway lights but no manned towers the lights can be activated by the pilot through the pilot’s radio signals. Not so in the military fields?



posted on Jan, 18 2018 @ 06:30 AM
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a reply to: whywhynot

They have a manned tower there. Just for some reason the light controls aren't in it. Pretty much every military base I've seen, with the exception of expeditionary training bases has a manned tower.



posted on Jan, 18 2018 @ 06:36 AM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

i is not getting involved in the issue of pilot hours // training etc etc etc

but this :


t control of the lights wasn't in the tower, so it could take up to 10 minutes to turn the lights on.


is utterly absurd

yup - for various reasons having landing lights " on request " rather than " always on in conditions of xxxxxxxxx visibility " makes perfect sense

but just WTF 10 minuites ???????????????????

they should be able to light up // go dark instantly

that is piss poor management and design



posted on Jan, 18 2018 @ 06:53 AM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

Well, more importantly...you never want to turn all the lights at an airfield on just because it's getting dark! Even when it's pitch black outside you only light up (to full intensity) the active portions of the airfield, not the whole thing, and certainly not to the same intensity. You wouldn't want to fully light up a crosswind runway at the same time your primary is illuminated to full intensity.

NVG might be an issue, but not the primary one. Airfield lighting is a regulatory issue as well.



posted on Jan, 18 2018 @ 06:55 AM
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a reply to: ignorant_ape

It's actually fairly common.

Airfield lighting is a lot more involved than most people think it is.



posted on Jan, 18 2018 @ 07:05 AM
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Regarding the OP, I guess my only question is, ... how did this individual ever make it all the way into an F-18 if his basic flight skills were so lacking? Even the most limited skill pilots understand the extra care which is required landing at sunrise and sunset, particularly sunset. Contrast, depth perception and night blindness are all very real issues at this time of day, as is obstacle avoidance and illusions.



posted on Jan, 18 2018 @ 07:19 AM
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The pilot didn't have enough fuel to go around?



posted on Jan, 18 2018 @ 07:24 AM
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a reply to: Cauliflower

The pilot didn't have the skills to make a good decision and go around.



posted on Jan, 18 2018 @ 07:29 AM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

I agree. Hence my question above.



posted on Jan, 18 2018 @ 07:34 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

It's a numbers game. They needed enough numbers to keep their funding up.



posted on Jan, 18 2018 @ 07:47 AM
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so the curriculum and those setting the protocol for our fighter pilots....can make any pilot a bad pilot

same with any employee, the boss has the ability to make or break a good employee

a fly over and go around are best at a unfamiliar situation......kinda necessary for safety.....I hope no one puts a fighter pilot under pressure....

a fighter pilot misses the deck cable or does a go around for any reason.....I would set the precedent to call em a hero..... for missing or checking the wind at he inner marker or for anyreason....call them hero on the radio everytime....like say thanks for the extra care there....establish that fellowship....so he needed more time in the seat...... .....it's all about time in the seat
edit on 18-1-2018 by GBP/JPY because: (no reason given)


put that boy back in a Hornet for sure....huh!....if his spine is ok
edit on 18-1-2018 by GBP/JPY because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 18 2018 @ 07:51 AM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

Wow...must be a whole different game than it was back in the 80's. Back then there was a line of 20+ highly qualified guys for every available slot in flight school. They were just looking for even the tiniest reason to wash someone out. It was almost comical some of the reasons they came up with. This was Air Force too, so I would have thought Navy / Marine pilots had even higher standards still.

I often wonder how much of a detrimental effect FBW technology has had on people wanting to get into aviation. I would have thought it would have been the exact opposite effect as a result of the gaming industry, but I guess there really must be supernatural force, one yet to be discovered by modern science, which attracts the younger generation's butts to Mom's couch in the basement. Every day I see more examples of the staggering pilot shortage which is coming shortly to commercial aviation. I guess the military must be having the same issues.



posted on Jan, 18 2018 @ 07:57 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

yes

I tell the young ones the number of flghts will double in 7 years..and start teaching them weather and the phonetic alphabet and things like when the engine quits push the nose down.....runway markings......alpha bravo charlie.....for fun I tell em tango underwear victor


edit on 18-1-2018 by GBP/JPY because: (no reason given)

edit on 18-1-2018 by GBP/JPY because: (no reason given)

edit on 18-1-2018 by GBP/JPY because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 18 2018 @ 08:15 AM
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a reply to: GBP/JPY

Some of the 'kids' I see flying for the feeders these days actually scare me!

In fact, just the other day I was in line at McDonald's and I was behind a 4-bar "Captain" whom I swear didn't look a day older than 18 (he had to have been, but sure didn't look it). Someone's rollerbag fell over behind me and whacked the handle on the floor how they do. This kid jumped about 2 feet off the ground with that sound! Scared the crap right out of him. He jumped up and spun around to the noise with eyes as big as saucers in one nanosecond. I was sitting there thinking to myself...and he's in command????? My Gawd!! What's going to happen when something goes thump on his airplane???? Someone drops a toilet seat in the lav (the 'Big Bang') and he's probably going inverted!


edit on 1/18/2018 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)



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