FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR Lcdr. John Hamiter and student 1stLt. Marshall Clinkscales were on a T-45C day familiarization training flight with VT-22 at NAS Kingsville, Texas.
While inbound to the overhead break at 1,000 feet and 300 knots, 1stLt. Clinkscales briefly caught sight of a red-tailed hawk just before it hit the aircraft. The hawk shattered the forward canopy, entered the cockpit, struck 1stLt. Clinkscales in the helmet and dropped on his lap. The windblast through the canopy made it difficult for the crew to talk using the intercom system, so they initially communicated by shaking the control stick. Once verbal communication was reestablished, LCdr. Hamiter determined that 1stLt. Clinkscales' forward visibility was much better than his own because the bird remains obscured his vision.
While LCdr. Hamiter coordinated with Kingsville tower, 1stLt.t Clinkscales landed their severely damaged aircraft.
CAPTAIN NATALIE WALKER, USMC, a T-45C flight instructor with VT-21, was on an intermediate strike, cruise formation training flight. Her aircraft struck several birds while descending through 3,000 feet in parade formation on a precision radar approach to NAS Kingsville, Texas. The impact shattered the front canopy, allowing several birds to enter the front cockpit.
The crew in the lead aircraft saw her cockpit explode with blood, gore and canopy glass. They saw the student slumped forward and temporarily incapacitated. A large section of canopy and detonation cord had wedged against his head. His visor was broken and his mask was dislodged.
Captain Walker took control of the stricken jet. Despite the wind blast, she established communication with the student and reassured him that she was flying the aircraft. With the jet under control, she told the lead aircraft and air-traffic controllers she intended to make a precautionary approach. Her vision was limited to a saucer-sized gap in the lower starboard side of the canopy. Captain Walker flew an approach to an arrested landing.
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|Date:||May 1, 2012|
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