Home F-14 Tomcat Here’s why this F-14A Tomcat split into two pieces

Here’s why this F-14A Tomcat split into two pieces

by Dario Leone
Here’s why this F-14A Tomcat split into two pieces

“On the night of July 11th as we made our way across the pond, it was a horrible night for pilots ‘behind the boat’ as the deck was pitching 10 feet in both directions…,” Rich Herbst, former F-14A pilot with VF-51 Screaming Eagles.

The photo in this post shows the remains of VF-51 Screaming Eagles F-14A Tomcat BuNo 162602 after a ramp strike upon landing aboard the USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63).

This F-14 ramp strike and subsequent crew ejection took place on Jul. 11, 1994.

Here’s why this F-14A Tomcat split into two pieces

According to former VF-51 pilot Rich Herbst, “On the night of July 11th as we made our way across the pond, it was a horrible night for pilots ‘behind the boat’ as the deck was pitching 10 feet in both directions. The pilot, LT “Pig” Arnold, made an unsafe power correction inside the waveoff window, chasing the deck down. When the ship rose back up, he did not have enough power, even at full throttle, to safely waveoff. The RIO – LCRD “Animal” Jennings saw what was coming and he initiated ejection just after the plane impacted the round down of the ship. The plane actually caught a wire and split into two pieces, with engine and back half of the jet left as a burning fireball in the wires. The front half of the jet skidded off of the front of the ship. Animal landed in his chute on the front of the ship next to some parked S-3’s. Aside from some minor injuries to his feet due to the landing impact, Animal was fine and flying within a few days. Pig had the unfortunate luck to be brought down in his chute right into the fireball that was burning in the wires. He sustained serious injuries to his hands and neck. He ended up making a full recovery, but never flew Tomcats again.”

Here’s why this F-14A Tomcat split into two pieces
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Herbst continues: “My stateroom was on the O-3 level right under the “crotch”. I watched the mishap live on the ship’s closed circuit PLAT TV and will never forget the sound of the scraping metal of the jet going across the deck, above me in my stateroom as we watched.”

Here’s why this F-14A Tomcat split into two pieces
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Noteworthy original U.S. Navy plans saw VF-51 and its sister squadron VF-111 becoming the first deployable units to transition to the F-14D Super Tomcat, however these plans were cancelled in December 1991 and VF-51 spent the time to it’s disestablishment (in March 1995) flying the F-14A.

VF-213 F-14D Print
This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-14D Tomcat VF-213 Blacklions, AJ200 / 164347 / 2006

The following, horrific video shows the ramp strike described in this article. 

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2 comments

HUNDO May 19 2019 - 7:40 PM

What a survival story!! Grazie, Dario!!:)

Dario Leone May 19 2019 - 7:43 PM

Thanks to you for reading!

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Welcome to The Aviation Geek Club, your new stopover aviation place. Launched in 2016 by Dario Leone, an Italian lifelong - aviation geek, this blog is the right place where you can share your passion and meet other aviation enthusiasts from all over the world.

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