Hawkeye Crew Bails Out

| September 1, 2020

A Navy E-2C Hawkeye crashed near Virginia Monday, officials said. A Hawkeye is shown here.

Four E-2C Hawkeye crew members were forced to bail out from their aircraft during a training evolution near Wallops Island on the Atlantic coast. All were rescued with no “major” injuries. Jeff LPH 3 and ChipNASA send.

Navy E-2 Hawkeye crashes in Virginia

Geoff Ziezulewicz

The Hawkeye was conducting a training flight at 4:05 p.m. when it crashed near Wallops Island, northeast of Norfolk, said Naval Air Force Atlantic spokeswoman Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg in a statement.

Both pilots and two crewmembers bailed out of the aircraft safely and sustained “no major injuries,” Cragg said.

They bailed out via the main cabin door and were already wearing parachutes, which is required when they board the aircraft, she said.

Initial reports also did not indicate that any personnel on the ground were injured, nor were any structures damaged in the crash, she said.

Assigned to Airborne Command and Control Squadron 120 out of Naval Station Norfolk, the aircraft was conducting a training flight at the time of the crash, Cragg said.

No ejection seats on the Hawkeye- these folks bailed out old-school. Read the article here: Navy Times

Thanks, Jeff and Chip.

Category: Blue Skies, Guest Link, Navy

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What do we think, are they Airborne or need four(4) more jumps.
Glade they made it.


Not Airborne.
To be Airborne you have to bail out of a perfectly good aircraft – or at least one that lands safely afterwards.


Perfectly good vs flight worthy?


Airborne son and brother have their opinions about the aircraft from which they have jumped is all I know. And they do not use the term “perfectly good aircraft” to describe them.


They can join the Caterpillar Club.


he Caterpillar Club is an informal association of people who have successfully used a parachute to bail out of a disabled aircraft. After authentication by the parachute maker, applicants receive a membership certificate and a distinctive lapel pin. The nationality of the person whose life was saved by parachute, and ownership of the aircraft are not factors in determining qualification for membership; anybody who has saved their life by using a parachute after bailing out of a disabled aircraft is eligible. …
…The name “Caterpillar Club” refers to the silk threads that made the original parachutes thus recognising the debt owed to the silk worm. Other people have taken the metaphor further by comparing the act of bailing out with that of the caterpillar letting itself down to earth by a silken thread. Another metaphor is that caterpillars have to climb out of their cocoons to escape.[3]

“Life depends on a silken thread” is the club’s motto.

Lt. (j.g.) George H.W. Bush was a member.


Guess he’d be a goldfish club member, too.



Call me weird but an air crew with jump wings wouldn’t give me a warm fuzzy.


Bail out rigs are called “May Pops” for a reason.


Not uncommon at all to see USAF rated officers with jump wings. They get them for taking the skydiving course at the Academy.


Not exactly the approved method of ending a training flight, but aircraft can be replaced. Crews cannot.


Glad that the Lads (?) are OK! Maybe after all the ‘splaining is done, we’ll know what caused it all. Somebody forgot the FIRST (ht to CW) rule of flight ops. Make your successful landings equal your successful takeoffs.



Lads or Ladies, no serious injuries is a Good Thing.

Combat Historian

When I was assigned to JFCOM on active duty tours, I would stay at the NAS Norfolk BOQ near the airstrip and watch and listen to the Hawkeyes and CODs all the time. Glad the crew survived okay…


If the aircraft was stable enough for both pilots to un ass their seats and jump out a door why wasn’t it stable enough to land? Something is missing here.

RVAW-120 was the east coast RAG (Replacement Air Group) or school house squadron back in the day. Being only four on board my suspicion is a pilot proficiency type sortie with four pilots at least one being an instructor onboard.


As a pilot, I suspect something catastrophic happened, such as loss of a prop or blade and they didn’t have enough altitude and control to get to a field and make an emergency landing.


Never been on an E2C, but I used to watch them take off from Vultures’ Row on the carriers I deployed to.

They are one of those planes that almost leapt off the deck. They just couldn’t wait to get airborne. So I’m kind of wondering what happened also.

One time during an EP-3 mission, I was shooting the bull with the pilots and they claimed, true or not, that barring a wing falling off, they would be able to land an EP-3.

Guess that Shane Osborne proved that in 2001.

If you can do it in an EP-3, basically a rock with wings, you can do it in anything.

Should be an interesting mishap report.


I can believe that about an EP-3.

Been on board a somewhat similar aircraft (C-130) when it lost an engine (non-catastrophic failure, but the aircraft did shake noticeably when it quit). Diverting and landing was zero problem.


In the case I’m referencing, it was decidedly not feathering an engine. I had noticed the crew chief for the bird looking intently out one of the C-130s small windows at soemthing, and asked him jokingly whether the wing was about to fall off (it was a very old Air National Guard C-130 – an A model, to be precise). His reply was something to the effect that the wings appeared fine but that we might be about to lose an engine.

A few minutes later, the plane shook. He came back, looked out the window again, muttered under his breath, and headed directly to the cockpit. We diverted immediately and ended up spending 1 or 2 nights at the divert location while the plane was repaired.


Perhaps it was a case of “Wonder what this switch does”


That’s hardcore. Glad they’re all OK.

Green Thumb


Sometimes you need to go out the door…


What happened? They weren’t wearing their masks?

So will they receive honorary jump wings?


Glad that they all made it home safe.

I can’t remember another instance since WW2 when crew have parachuted out of their multi-engine plane. Ditching yes. Jumping no.

AW1 Ed, have you?


I’m guessing that happened quite a bit among unlucky BUFF crews during Dec 1972 (Operation Linebacker II), MC.


Roger that.


B-52 has ejection seats. The Nav and Radar Nav position are downward firing.


Ooopsie. Then…never mind!


Tail gunner was on his own.
Pull widow, and jump.


They may have been on the earlier models when the tailgunner actually sat back in the tail. On the G and H models (only Hs left today) the gunner was in an ejection seat next to the EWO. I remember a story from the early 80s about an incident on a G/H training mission.

Apparently intercom was kind of flaky and they were getting ready to transition from high altitude flight cruise and enter a low-level route. Turbulence was pretty bad and with the comms the EWO communicated to the Gunner by yelling above the noise. Apparently he said something akin to “we’re going down now” meaning they were descending to the low level route. The Gunner interpreted this to mean that the airplane had a problem (reinforced by the turbulence) and punched out leaving the EWO to stare at a hole and empty space where the gunner and his ejection seat had been.

The gunner position was eliminated in Buffs in the early to mid 90s as part of the Peace Dividend drawdown under Clinton.

When I left the staff in 94 and returned to a flying assignment we had a number of former gunners who had crossed trained to various other crew positions in AWACS in order to continue flying. I remebember some Flight Engineers and Surveilance Techs.


FWIW: it appears most of the B-52s used during Linebacker II were D models.



Seems to me that an ejection seat is merely a device used to assist the exiting individual’s jump from a disabled aircraft. (smile) I’ll go out on a limb here and say that even those downward firing seats were almost certainly a better bet at Linebacker II altitudes than riding a crippled aircraft into a smoking hole.

However, if you want to be pedantic about “bailing out” versus ejecting, I’ll also guess that the same thing happened at least a few times during the Korean War too. People forget we conducted a significant strategic bombing campaign (largely using B-29s if I recall correctly) against targets in North Korea during that war. I don’t believe the B-29 was ever equipped with ejection seats, so I’d guess at least a few B-29 crews had to bail out of a disabled aircraft at some point during that war.


Addendum: no need to guess. Bailouts from B-29s indeed happened during Korea.



Downward firing are okay except on takeoff. They are definitely not zero-zero seats,

RGR 4-78

Put your ass in the blast and your knees in the breeze! 🙂


DB yearns from the grave to have had this option on his final flight.


He was well paid but lost it all on a gamble.


Ha! wrong DB.

I was thinking of DB Cooper.



I wondered if anyone would think of the Cooper DB instead of Bernath. Lol.


I contacted my former roommate a career E-2 guy with over 600 traps. Here is what he had to say. He’s been retired for 10 years.

Rumor has it that it was a total hydraulic failure meaning both the flight and combined hydraulic systems failed. At that point, the only logical course is to get the hell out fast while the airplane is trimmed up because its nothing but a flying brick at that point. The only other possibility would be a pitch lock which would lead to uncontrollable flight in the landing configuration. I’m betting it was a failure of hydraulics.

10th E-2C lost since 1975. Now that they have air refueling, I shudder to think about what will happen to try to get aboard at night after a 7.5 hour flight.