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Blue Angel Crash (Read 1265 times)
Roger Whitcomb

Blue Angel Crash
Dec 3rd, 2004 at 6:47pm
Blue Angel Identified Following Safe Ejection

From Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron Public Affairs

The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron pilot who safely ejected from his F/A-18 Hornet near Perdido Key in the Gulf of Mexico Dec. 1 has been identified by the Blue Angels.

Lt. Ted Steelman, 32, from Star, Idaho, was flying an unnumbered Blue Angel jet on a routine, hour-long training mission when the incident occurred. Steelman is the teamıs opposing solo, and flies the Number Six jet during the demonstration.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

A second Hornet, flown by Lt. Cmdr. Craig Olson, 35, from Kirkland, Wash., was flying with Steelman approximately 10 miles from Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Fla., when the incident occurred. The ejection happened approximately 15 minutes into their flight.

After Steelman's parachute opened, Olson circled overhead, directing rescue crews to his downed wingman's position. Olson landed safely at NAS Pensacola after Steelman had been recovered.

Steelman was recovered by an NAS Pensacola search and rescue (SAR) helicopter, and was airlifted directly to Naval Medical Center Pensacola. He arrived in very good condition approximately a half-hour after ejecting. He was evaluated and treated for exposure to the mid-60 degree water, and released at approximately 7 p.m. local time Dec. 1.

The H-3 rescue helicopter was piloted by Lt. Matt Cristo and co-piloted by Lt. Scott Wilkerson. Also aboard were crew chief Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Peter Nolan and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Michael Turner. Steelman was picked up by rescue swimmer Aviation Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Tommy Henderson.

A 225-foot U.S. Coast Guard buoy tender, USCGC Cypress, is patrolling the crash site to pick up floating debris and to keep the area secure for investigators.

The aircraft has been declared a total loss, and the Navy is evaluating different recovery options.

Source: Navy News Stand (2nd December, 2004)
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