1966-68 Mishaps-Terry Johnson
VA-172 Blue Bolts A-4C Skyhawk Mishap
by Terry Johnson ADJ3 VA-172 Plane Captain 1966-67
CLICK ON PICTURE TO ENLARGE
This incident happened during the 1966-67 WestPac (Vietnam) Cruise aboard the USS Franklin D Roosevelt CVA-42. I do not recall the exact date of this mishap.
An A-4C Skyhawk from VA-172 was on approach to land. The A-4 was off center and why it wasn’t waved off I don’t know. Or maybe it was and it came in anyway. I am not sure of the details. I do know that it landed starboard of center and caught a wire. As it was being stopped by the wire it was also being moved towards the center of the deck. There must have been oil or something slippery on the deck as the aircraft continued to go past center deck and kept on sliding right off the port side of the deck. As it was still attached to a landing wire it was dangling off the port side with its nose in the water. The pilot opened the canopy and jumped into the sea. He was picked up by one of the helos and brought aboard. The ship was brought to a stop and the crane brought aft to try and salvage the aircraft. It was determined that the aircraft could not be hoisted back aboard. Due to this determination the aircraft was cut loose and dropped into the sea. The aircraft resides at the bottom of the Tonkin Gulf somewhere.
A picture of the A-4 dangling over the side is attached.
VFP-62 F-8 Crusader Mishap – by Terry Johnson
We had a similar incident to the A-4 mishap above with an F-8 Crusader from VFP-62. I don’t remember if this happened during the 66-67 WestPac or the 67-68 Med Cruise. The F-8 was coming in for a landing and caught the wire, but the pilot must have thought he missed because he hit 100% to go around again. Needless to say the aircraft went over the front edge of the angle deck and fell still attached to the arresting wire. The nose of the aircraft was in the water and movement of the ship was causing it to go in and out of the water. The pilot opened his canopy and jumped into the water where he was rescued by a helo. Again, this aircraft was unable to be lifted back onto the ship and was cut loose to fall into the sea and sink. Unfortunately I was unable to take pictures of this incident.
VF-32 Swordsmen F-4B Mishap – by Terry Johnson ADJ3 VA-172 Line Division PO
This incident happened during the 1967-68 Med Cruise aboard the USS Franklin D Roosevelt CVA-42. I do not recall the exact date of this mishap.
We were at flight quarters and the weather conditions were terrible. The waves were high and the ship was rolling. An F-4 Phantom from VF-32 was on approach to land and he was coming down as the ship was coming up and he hit hard. The LSO cleared the F-4 for landing, but we are talking tough conditions. Depending on the sea, sometimes the deck would go up and down, but the oscillation of the deck and amount of pitch was predictable. Although this is difficult, it is not impossible. Other times the seas would be unpredictable and this may have been one of those times. One minute the oscillation would be predictable and the pitch small and the next the amount of oscillation of the deck and the pitch would be unpredictable. Anyway close in (too late to wave off) you could see the deck start to rise, fast and to a great amount. Just as the F-4 touched down the two forces collided (F-4 and the deck). The amazing thing was the F-4 caught a wire, but his starboard gear collapsed and it settled to the deck. Red hydraulic fluid started to run out from the belly of the aircraft and all over the deck. The aircraft that were still in the air were diverted to Sardinia so we could clear the deck before they could come back and land. VA-172 had 5 aircraft diverted, VA-72 one aircraft and an A-3 Skywarrior from VAH-10 that was the inflight refueler. I got some pictures of the F-4 being hoisted and ready to move off the angle deck. Once the F-4 was removed from the deck word came down that command wanted a line crewman to go over to Sardinia to preflight and get the aircraft ready to fly back to the ship. Since VA-172 had 5 aircraft out they wanted a plane captain from our squadron to go. I was the line PO and decided I was going. I borrowed my division officer’s (Lt. James Dowd) flight suit and helmet because I was to get the aircraft ready and then fly back aboard the Rosie on the A-3. I was flown off the carrier on a COD to Sardinia. I arrived, preflighted and got the planes ready, took a few pictures and climbed into the A3 and we headed back to the ship. I sat in the radioman’s seat behind the pilot and the radioman took the jump seat. We watched as all the A-4’s landed and then it was our turn. The weather was still bad and the seas rough. We made 7 passes at the ship trying to catch a wire and get aboard, but to no avail. We missed all 7 times. By that time we were running out of fuel so they diverted us back to Sardinia. We got to Sardinia and refueled and were then sent to Rota Spain that same day. The Rosie was going into port in Valencia Spain the next day for liberty so they weren’t going to bring the A-3 back aboard until after getting back to sea. The A-3 crew stayed in Rota until after the liberty was over, but I stayed 2 days and then was flown to Valencia on a Navy C-118 to catch the ship. I was picked up and transported to the Rosie where I checked in with the OOD. I checked in and changed into my uniform and went looking for my division officer to return his flight gear. My division officer told me he was watching when we made the 7 passes trying to land and that we almost hit the fantail of the ship on 2 of the landing attempts. Ignorance is bliss I guess because I had a ball that day.
I took pictures from the COD of Sardinia. I took pictures of some aircraft there on the ramp. I also took one of the Rosie from the A-3 as we were awaiting the A-4’s to land. These pictures are attached.
I have searched the internet for official reports/info on all of these incidents, but have been unable to find any information on any of them. But, they did happen as my pictures show for two of the mishaps.