A single-seat Navy FA-18E Super Hornet crashed 45 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach Wednesday afternoon.
Commander Mike Kafka with Naval Air Atlantic said the jet is part of VFA-143, assigned to Carrier Air Wing 7, and is currently assigned to USS Eisenhower. The flight originated from Oceana Naval Air Station and was conducting routine training exercises when the jet crashed around 2:30 p.m.
Spokesman Petty Officer David Weydert confirmed the pilot ejected and landed in the ocean. A Navy MH-60 Sea Hawk responded to the scene and transported the pilot to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, where he remains listed in critical condition, according to Commander Mike Kafka.
Friday, Rear Adm. Mike Shoemaker told WAVY.com the jet’s black box was located.
WAVY News 10’s Lauren Compton observed a person being taken off a Navy helicopter at the hospital around 4 p.m. She reports the person was lying flat on a stretcher, covered with a blanket.
The Joyce D, a fishing vessel based out of North Carolina, and its captain, Bryan Daniels, were about two miles away from the scene at the time of the crash and responded to the scene to help. The crew had just left North Carolina to head flounder fishing off the New Jersey coast. The only way to reach the crew is by fax, so WAVY.com talked to the captain’s father, Henry Daniels, about a fax he received from his son.
“We had some excitement a few hours ago — a Navy jet crashed,” read the fax from Bryan Daniels. “The other jets kept buzzing me until I got them on 16. They got me to go the crash site. There was one survivor. We tried to get him on board the boat, but he couldn’t grab nothing. All he could do is say he couldn’t breathe and help him. Then four helicopters showed up and they got him and carried him back to the hospital.”
The Navy will investigate the cause of the crash. CMDR Kafka confirmed the jet has a black box, but said the Navy does not know yet if it can or will be able to recover the aircraft. If it does, the black box will help them figure out what went wrong.
The crash comes exactly one week after a Navy MH-53E helicopter crashed 18 nautical miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. Pilot Lt. Sean Christopher Snyder’s remains were recovered in the helicopter’s wreckage Tuesday. Two other Sailors died at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital from their injuries and two more were treated and released.
A mechanical malfunction sent a Navy F/A-18D jet crashing into an apartment complex in Virginia Beach in April 2012.