Skip to comments.Tony Scott, Hank Kleeman, Kara Hultgreen and the F-14 Tomcat:...
Posted on 01/12/2014 6:10:37 PM PST by US Navy Vet
...three (tragic) stories and a legendary plane Few days ago, Dario Leone, a long time reader and a huge F-14 Tomcat fan, sent me an email to point out what he had noticed about the date Tony Scott, the famous director of Top Gun, chose to commit suicide.
He had observed that Aug. 19 was the 31th anniversary of the day when two F-14s downed two Libyan fighters in 1981 (something that Scott, most probably, didnt even know) and provided some interesting news about the fate of the two Tomcats involved in the dogfight and their crew members.
Top Gun is the film that made the F-14 famous all around the world. Downings and crashes aside, aircraft depicted in the movie were true and they were driven by real pilots of the U.S. Navy belonging to VF-51 Screaming Eagles [...] In a certain way, Tony Scott brought on the big screens what had happened on Aug. 19, 1981, Leone wrote to me.
(Excerpt) Read more at theaviationist.com ...
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I’m curious about one of the comments to the story, in regards to Kara Hultgreen:
“The story I heard, collaborated by numerous fellow aviators, was that she was given a fleet naval aviator disposition board,(FNAEB) convened at the behest of the flight surgeon, of all people, while assigned to VAQ -33, N.A.S. Key West. She was selected to fly F-14’s in spite of this huge black mark.”
I guess my question is, if Hultgreen indeed had one of these, what is it about the FNAEB that would be such a black mark on the record? Is it a routine evaluation type thing, or is it “we don’t think this person is up to snuff, and we’re basically going to publicly question their competency” sort of thing?
Just curious. I don’t know much about these things.
By all accounts I’ve read, Kara Hultgreen had no business being in the cockpit of that F-14 on the day she lost her life. As a number of pilots and Navy vets have pointed out over the years, any man with her track record in training would have been washed out of the program.
That plane earned the headlines again on Oct. 25, 1994 when, piloted by Lt. Kara Revlon Hultgreen, U.S. Navys first female F-14 pilot, crashed into the sea while landing aboard USS Abraham Lincoln, off San Diego. While her RIO, Lt. Matthew P. Klemish, ejected safely she didnt survive the ejection.
I remember that crash. The ultimate finding was that Lt. Hultgreen was given a much coveted fighter billet despite recommendations that she be given a much less demanding flying slot.
Have you ever been tortured Mandrake?
Well... yes I was, matter of fact, I was. I don’t think they wanted me to talk really. I don’t think they wanted me to say anything. It was just their way of having a bit of fun, the swines. Strange thing is they make such bloody good cameras!
BTW, Willoughby? Maybe it’s wishful thinking nestled in a hidden part of a man’s mind, or maybe it’s the last stop in the vast design of things - or perhaps, for a man like Mr. Gart Williams, who climbed on a world that went by too fast, it’s a place around the bend where he could jump off.”
It bums me to think this loss was the result of affirmative action.
Remarkable DfB. I have little doubt but that you would be a fun person to pour a glass for. In any gin joint in any place in the world.
As a consequence of the incident, two separate investigations were conducted.
The Judge Advocate General (JAG) cited a technical malfunction as the root cause of the crash whereas the Navy Mishap Investigation Report (MIR) came to the conclusion that it was a pilot error to induce the fatal left engine stall.
Until the latter was leaked, the JAG version was Navys official position on the mishap.
1. There are always two investigations for every mishap. A JAG to find any legal culpability, and a Safety Investigation. The two are done independently. While the JAG is limited in scope, the safety investigation is not. One critical part of the safety investigation is that the information in that investigation is "privileged." Only those that would benefit from the knowledge are allowed to see the results. That doesn't include releasing it to the press.
2. The main causal factor for the crash was the engine stall. Now we can argue forever about whether that was the pilot's fault, or the Navy's fault for continuing to fly the F-14A with a crappy engine. Jerking the throttles around on the Tomcat wasn't what you wanted to do. Personally, I only had three stalls in the four years I flew the F-14A and all of them turned out to be engines that had to be replaced. I treated those engines very gingerly.
3. I don't think LT Hultgreen should have been flying those planes, either. The key difference is that the people that should have stopped it didn't, and the dirt that came out after her death came from some of the same people that should have put a stop to it. The guy that crashed his airplane in Nashville and killed people on the ground was from the same squadron and he was worse. Same problem, people didn't put a stop to a guy that needed to be grounded. It is a tough job, but sometimes you have to do tough things. I had to fail a good friend on an annual check ride that ultimately led to the end of his flying career. I didn't want to do it, but he simply wasn't good enough. We aren't friends anymore, but his wife still has a husband and his kid still has a dad.
4. The F-14 had command eject. With qualified crew in the front and back we always flew in command eject, meaning if either of us pulled the handle we both went. The RIO always goes first. When Matt pulled the ejection handle, he was pulling it for both of them, unfortunately the airplane had gotten so slow that it got to a region of control reversibility and departed controlled flight. Matt's "successful" ejection included some skipping across the waves, Kara was found still in her seat. That line of service doesn't leave much room for error. Matt got lucky, Kara didn't. If somebody ever insinuated that the RIO saved himself and left her, in my presence, I would have troubles controlling my rage.
Top Gun is one of my top 10 most favorite movies along with Cool Hand Luke, Bullit and a few more.
Hear! Hear! I know a little bit about most of what you said and what the thread says via it’s posters. I packed chutes for the F-4’s and F-16’s. Our pilots went to green flags and red flags and so did we. My ex wife’s cousin was an F-14 driver in the Top Gun movie and went on to fly the shuttle a time or two. My friend flew Greyhounds off a carrier until he bottomed out on the “list” and left the service in shame. One of our F 16 pilots was heading to our red flag base in Europe (a commercial heavy pilot) and lost an engine on take off in a lawn dart. The aircraft rotated (at night) and he punched out, out of the envelope as they say. They found him in the seat. Everything deployed as intended, except it needed atmospheric resistance to work. In other words, he punched out inverted and ran out of time/airspace. The point being- mess with the bull get the horns. High speed dirt. High speed - low drag. Affirmative action ain’t where it’s at. The ground don’t care. I detest the elitism of the brass. It’s the signature downfall of the rank structure, along with political correctness, fagsville, woman are equal (except when they’re not) yada yada yada. JAG protected a warrant officer bagging my wife. I eventually gained custody of my son. Had I not- someone might have been missing part of their anatomy... either waist high, or shoulder high. I hate the officer corps. Just sayin’
The funny thing is they make such good cameras....
Not really, since "those" are taxpayers, who never got the real truth through official sanction.
So if there is a weakness in a military platform, that causes an accident, we should broadcast that to the whole world?
I recall reading somewhere that limitation was due to both the engine performance and the aircraft design (engines relatively far apart).
I can see where an inexperienced or unqualified person might perform that unapproved maneuver when a lot of things are happening fast with the ramp approaching and they succumb to the pressure to get it right.
Brilliant! Ya just had to love Peter Sellers in that movie!
I know it was an anti-war movie made by a liberal douche, but...I have always found it hilariously funny!
i was in a “Q” squadron...
first off, they all have 3 numbers in squadron id, not two..
second, they are all still stationed at whidbey...
this guy made two false statements in one sentence..
as a post script, i was with VAQ 133... not ..33
At approach speed you should still be 1.3 times the stall speed. So a yaw at those speeds is not a problem. A common misconception among pilots is a yaw in a stall leads to a spin. That is incorrect. A skid in a stall can lead to a spin. A slip in a stall should not lead to a spin.
The operational reality is, the front seat of an F-14 is one the absolute pinnacles of aviation's meritocracy.
You earn the position by waging a constant war of skill and competency against the many checks and balances that NEVER stop saying: "You can't do that and if you do, you will die trying." and "How can I kill you today?"
Those checks and balances don't care what PC has to say about much of anything, especially not about how unfair it all is.
Instead, those checks and balances only talk about consequence, and when ignored they usually just say "I told you so" and/or "Rest In Peace".
Such a loss. Could have just said "no" and lived another day, instead of becoming a casualty of the PC war that should never have been fought.
What does Fate write on the tomb of the PC Soldier?
"Here Lies a Casualty of a Lost Cause"
I was there, V-2 Div, Waist Cats. Ah, it seems like a lifetime ago.
VAQ-133...didn’t you send planes to the JFK?
Thanks for your service...:)
The F-14 community had a habit of flying garbage and writing off stalls as always being pilot induced, when some of those engines needed to be pulled. Don't know the history on her engine. I've seen worse starts and never seen a stall like that.
By the time the Tomcat was being phased out half of the fleet was still flying A models with the old engine and old radar. One of my squadrons was decommissioned in the mid 90s and the other one rode the A model until they transitioned to F-18F’s.
The TF-30 was so bad that most of use wore “Pratt and Whitney, Dependable Engines” t-shirts as a joke.