A Navy pilot remains in critical condition after his FA-18E super hornet jet crashed about 45 miles off the Virginia Beach coast on Wednesday afternoon.
The Navy is currently investigating the circumstances around the crash and has not publicly identified the pilot, according to WAVY-TV
. Navy officials said that they do not know whether the aircraft can be recovered but hope to retrieve the plane's black box, which would assist in the investigation.
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Spokesman Petty Officer David Weydert said the pilot was ejected from the aircraft and landed in the ocean, and a Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopter responded to the scene. Commander Mike Kafka told WAVY-TV that the pilot is in critical condition at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.
The jet left the Oceana Naval Air Station Wednesday and was involved in routine training exercises when the aircraft crashed at about 2:30 p.m.
The Virginian-Pilot reported
that the flyer was pulled from the water by a nearby fishing vessel and was then hoisted by a rescue swimmer into the MH-60 Seahawk.
The fishing ship, based out of North Carolina, was the first to help the pilot. At the time of the crash, the fishermen were hunting for flounder.
"We had some excitement a few hours ago – a Navy jet crashed," a fax from Bryan Daniels, the ship's captain read. "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."
A Navy MH-53H Sea Dragon helicopter crashed 18 miles off Cape Henry a week ago. Two sailors, Lt. Wesley Van Dorn, 29, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Collins, 25, died in the incident and a third, pilot Lt. Sean Christopher Snyder, 39, of Santee, Calif., was listed as missing.
The Virginian-Pilot reported that another Super Hornet crashed in the North Arabian Sea in April after taking off from the Eisenhower. Both aviators were ejected from the jet and rescued via helicopter.
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