[Video] Naval Aviators who saved E-2C Hawkeye in 2016 describe response to carrier landing cable break

Video features Naval Aviators who saved E-2C Hawkeye in 2016 describing response to carrier landing cable break

By Dario Leone
May 16 2021
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Lt. Cmdr. Kellen Smith and Lt. Matthew Halliwell were two of three pilots aboard a US Navy VAW-123 Screwtops E-2C Hawkeye that was landing on USS Eisenhower aircraft carrier on Mar. 18, 2016 when an arresting cable snapped during a carrier landing.

Lt. Cmdr. Kellen Smith and Lt. Matthew Halliwell were two of three pilots aboard a US Navy Airborne Early Warning Squadron 123 (VAW-123) Screwtops E-2C Hawkeye that was landing on USS Eisenhower (CVN-69) aircraft carrier on Mar. 18, 2016 when an arresting cable snapped during a carrier landing in a rare and terrifying flight deck mishap.

In the following video they talked to the Virginian Pilot about how they prevented the loss of lives and the aircraft during the mishap.

For the accident that injured eight sailors and nearly sent the E-2C Hawkeye plunging into the ocean, the Navy faulted flawed maintenance.

Navy Times then reported that the 30-second incident required six medical evacuations of eight injured sailors and caused more than $200,000 of damages to the carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower and aircraft on deck, according to a report, which blamed this mishap on complicated maintenance rules and sailors’ mistakes. 

Three VAW-123 E-2Cs were working on pre-deployment carrier landing qualifications off the coast of Virginia on that day when the pilots of one of the Hawkeye propeller planes noticed that despite a textbook landing — hooking the fourth and final arresting cable on the flight deck — the aircraft wasn’t slowing down.

“All three mishap aircrew heard a loud bang, heard the tailhook re-contact the flight deck, and felt a shudder,” according to the report. “Both pilots realized that ‘something’ had happened and observed that they were continuing to roll towards the end of the landing area.”

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While the E-2C rolled off the deck, flight deck sailors rushed to avoid being struck by the snapped metal wire. The aircraft went missing for a frightening second, as the pilots struggled to get airborne again. The plane came within 20 feet of strike the water, the report said. 

The Hawkeye plunged off the edge, getting airborne again about 10 to 20 feet above the water, according to the investigation.

Meanwhile, the No. 4 wire snapped and swung across the flight deck, hitting eight sailors and causing injuries from minor lacerations to broken bones and a cracked skull.

The accident also caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damages to a C-2 Greyhound and MH-60S Knighthawk parked on the flight deck.

The investigation blamed with three sailors responsible for maintaining the landing gear, as well as the needlessly complicated procedures required to do that job. Sailors failed to properly fix an error on the Ike’s No. 4 wire, which left the arresting gear engine unable to provide enough load to stop the E-2C Hawkeye landing on deck. The sailors were recommended for discipline, but did not say what actions were taken.

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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