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Spheres of Influence.

An F/A-l8C Hornet pilot was on his second visual flight rules low-level route of the day after refueling at an en route air base. He sighted a valley off to his right and performed a gentle, right-hand slice turn to enter it for the purpose of terrain masking. Once there, he aligned the aircraft in the center of the valley.

After a time he became momentarily preoccupied with something in the cockpit. When he looked up he saw two sets of line-marking spheres, one set at eye level, the other slightly above eye level. Perceiving that he was rapidly closing on the spheres, he pushed forward on the control stick while in a right angle of bank in an attempt to avoid the high-tension cables on which the spheres were mounted.

He heard a series of thumps as he passed under the first set of spheres. The pilot then leveled his wings and started a climb. The starboard engine began to lose power and the pilot noted loud popping noises coming from it. After receiving several aural warning tones, the pilot reduced starboard throttle to idle and secured the engine. He then had second thoughts about shutting the engine down and immediately placed the starboard throttle back to idle, which successfully air-started the engine.

The pilot turned toward his destination airfield, continuing to climb. He declared an emergency and leveled at 17,000 feet. When he reached the airfield he lowered the landing gear, extended flaps to the half position and conducted a slow flight controllability check with no adverse effects. He lowered the tail hook for a short field arrestment but experienced a hook-skip on the first try and took off. His second attempt was successful. The aircraft's damaged areas included the leading edge wing flaps, the starboard engine, which was fodded, and the vertical tail.

Grampaw Pettibone says:

Jumpin' Jehoshaphat! This aviator left the approved low-level route, managed to find high-tension wires and damaged a perfectly good airplane--luckily, only the plane. It's the same old simple story. You can get into real trouble when flying fast and close to mother earth. Keep that scan moving and remember, especially when down low, you've got to eyeball the outside world as if it were a danger zone.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Department of the Navy, Naval Historical Center
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:jet fighter aviation
Publication:Naval Aviation News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2001
Words:378
Previous Article:HELOS HELOS EVERYWHERE!
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