By Russ Niles, Editor-in-Chief
Despite assurances from Marine Corps brass and politicians, there have been the virtually inevitable calls for the closure of Miramar Marine Corps Air Station following last week's crash of an F/A-18D in a residential area south of the base. A mother, grandmother and two young children were killed in one of the houses hit by the falling fighter. "The Marines are decent people, and it seems un-American to gripe about them during wartime," area resident Sally Marks told the San Diego Union Tribune "But having hundreds of helicopters and jets in the middle of an urban area is a recipe for discord and disaster," she said. According to the newspaper, some residents believe the base should be relocated to a less populated area, likely inland in the desert, but in some ways that would defeat the purpose Miramar was serving in the tragedy that unfolded last Monday.
Lt. Dan Neubauer had just taken off from the USS Abraham Lincoln on a training flight when the right engine on the aircraft failed. Routine training on carriers is often done near coastal bases so aircraft can be diverted there in case of problems and Neubauer was heading for Miramar on one engine when the other one quit. Marine officials say Neubauer did everything by the book by ejecting at 2,200 feet, two miles short of the runway, in an aircraft that was doomed. The investigation now shifts to what could possibly have caused the double flameout and could include a look at a fuel-system problem that occurred on the carrier three days before the crash. The ship was forced to dump thousands of gallons of jet fuel after a leak on a fuel filter gasket. Whatever the cause, the Marines are vowing to get to the bottom of it. "I pledge an absolutely thorough investigation so the cause is identified and never happens again," Col. Christopher O'Connor, Miramar's commanding officer, told 300 residents packing a school gymnasium on Thursday night. The meeting was also attended by state, federal and civic politicians.
Our own Glenn Pew considers the implications when accidents hit close to home on the AVweb Insider blog.