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I am writing a book about my military service. I was working the catapults as a final checker and the F-14 lost the shuttle and went into the sea. Both crew survived.

This was with squadron VF-124 in September-October 1978 during carrier qualifications. Where should I look to find the crash report?

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2 Answers 2

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These records are not public. There are enthusiasts that track such things. What sounds like the accident you speak of is mentioned here:

crashed 13.09.1978 into the sea. During a night catapult launch, the a/c launch bar was placed on the lip of the shuttle, vice in the throat. Prior to launch the pilot selected mil. power and indicated to the cat officer that he was ready to go. As the shuttle was released the a/c, in the kneeled position, started down the cat track, whereupon the launch bar slipped off hte lip of the shuttle. Zone 5 afterburner (Z5) was selected at or shortly after shuttle release, realizing that the a/c would not attain flying speed, the crew ejected. With approx. 1,000 lbs removed from the a/c nose and due to the nose strut extending, the a/c pitched up as it left the deck. The a/c, in Z5 went into a loop type maneuver, peaking at an altitude of approx. 3,000 ft, then descended and crashed 200 - 300 yards off the port bow! Both crewmen were successfully recovered. Post accident investigation revealed (plat tape analysis) that the flight deck crewman responsible for ensuring that the tow bar was properly placed in the throat of the shuttle was improperly positioned so that he could not see the tow bar. Medical records showed that the crewman was nearly blind under night flight deck conditions and that he had not had an eye examination for several years!!!

You might have some luck finding more information by reaching out to some of these enthusiasts. Good luck!

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  • $\begingroup$ That was what I was looking for, thank you very much $\endgroup$
    – gr8dain
    Sep 5, 2023 at 18:13
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    $\begingroup$ @gr8dain, at the risk of an inappropriate question, were you the "the flight deck crewman responsible for ensuring that the tow bar was properly placed"? (You said you were a final checker...) $\endgroup$ Sep 6, 2023 at 15:23
  • $\begingroup$ Also mentioned in this administrative report. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Sep 6, 2023 at 18:19
  • $\begingroup$ No, the aircraft is hooked up by the ships company cat crew. I was assigned to squadron that owned the aircraft. My responsibility was the F-14, the plane was good, on cat launch I saw the shuttle pull away from the launch bar. I stood up to signal cancel, but I saw the aircrew was very focused on thier task at hand. I squatted down turned my back and felt the afterburners on my back. I stood back up and saw both chutes. The report I received has the rest of the details. Quite a moment, later I asked the pilot on the way to sickbay about it. "definetly worth an E coupon" was the reply. peace $\endgroup$
    – gr8dain
    Sep 6, 2023 at 20:22
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, and sorry to put you on the spot! I was just curious is all... (being a former Prowler pilot) And I know the yellow shirts hook things up, I just wondered if that's on the squadron final checker's list of things to scan. Cheers. $\endgroup$ Sep 6, 2023 at 20:53
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Naval aviation mishap investigation reports are not released to the public.

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  • $\begingroup$ No, the aircraft is hooked up by the ships company cat crew. I was assigned to squadron that owned the aircraft. My responsibility was the F-14, the plane was good, on cat launch I saw the shuttle pull away from the launch bar. I stood up to signal cancel, but I saw the aircrew was very focused on thier task at hand. I squatted down turned my back and felt the afterburners on my back. I stood back up and saw both chutes. The report I received has the rest of the details. Quite a moment, later I asked the pilot on the way to sickbay about it. "definetly worth an E coupon" was the reply. peace $\endgroup$
    – gr8dain
    Sep 6, 2023 at 20:19

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