Navy Aggressor Pilot Rescued From Ocean


A Navy MH-60S Knight Hawk successfully rescued the pilot of an F-5N Tiger II about 25 miles off the coast of Key West Naval Air Station on Wednesday morning. The pilot ejected from the Cold War-era fighter about 9:20 a.m. The helicopter was dispatched and located the pilot, who was taken to a hospital in Miami for evaluation. It’s not clear if the pilot was injured.

“The safety and well-being of our pilot remains our top priority. The cause of the incident will be investigated. More details will be released as they become available,” the Navy said in a statement. The airplane belonged to the “Sun Downers,” the Navy Reserve’s fleet adversary program that flies in opposition to Navy, Marines, Air Force, Reserve and Guard pilots.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. When I was flying SAR the inside joke was “Excuse me Lieutenant, didn’t you have an airplane when you left the boat?”
    Of course, you would never say anything like that to an Aviator that punched out. It’s about one of the most violent things an Aviator will do in his flying career.
    I’m really glad the Helo found and picked up the Aviator.

  2. In the early ’70s, I was still working at Los Angeles Center in Palmdale, Ca. It was located next to AF Plant 42, lots of experimental built there. I was driving out of the Center parking lot and just happened to see Bob Hoover doing practice in an F5. Pulled over and watched. He flew it like he did his P-51. Was great to watch and a great memory. I imagine the advanced F5 is fun to fly aggressor in. The T-38 and F5 version were an outstanding purchase by the USAF.

  3. Must have been about the same time frame I talked to you when flying through your airspace in a Navy A-6. I always thought the Northrop F-5/T-38 were the most aesthetically pleasing aircraft the we ever made. I got to watch the first flight of the N156, which it was called then, out of Hawthrone CA with my father who worked for Northrop. It now is in a museum in Seattle.