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US Navy pilot pulled off heroic landing that saved 8 after engine failure en route to aircraft carrier

November 24, 2017

  • A pilot flying a US Navy C-2 Greyhound saved eight of 11 passengers and crew members on board by making a heroic landing at sea on Wednesday.
  • The plane had no ejection seats or parachutes, so a landing on the water was the only option.
  • The US Navy’s swift pace of operations in the Pacific may have contributed to this crash landing, as it has to other crashes that have left 17 sailors dead late this year.

The US Navy has called off its search for three missing sailors after a C-2 Greyhound aircraft crashed on approach to the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier at sea near Okinawa, Japan, on Wednesday — but the plane’s pilot has emerged a hero for saving eight of the 11 crew members and passengers on board.

The Greyhound, a twin-engine plane entered into service in the 1960s, may have crashed because of an engine failure, CBS News reported, citing the Japanese minister of defense, who had spoken to Navy officials.

Lawrence Brennan, a former US Navy captain, told Business Insider, “Greyhounds are not equipped with ejection seats or parachutes.”

The air crew’s only choice was to land at sea.

“This must have been particularly challenging after one engine failed, reportedly on approach to the carrier,” Brennan said.

C-2 GreyhoundU.S. Navy

“The Greyhound was landed in the open ocean so that it remained afloat for a sufficient time to allow the majority of the people on board to escape,” Brennan said. “The sacrifice, skill, and professionalism that he and his aircrew demonstrated should be considered for recognition by the award of a Distinguished Flying Cross.”

Though the Greyhounds have all served for decades, the Navy regularly maintains them. Brennan said that the last casualty involving a Greyhound was in 1973, but that the swift operational tempo of the US Navy in the Pacific may have contributed to the crash landing on Wednesday. That was found to be the case in two collisions this summer involving the USS Fitzgerald and the USS John S. McCain that the Navy has concluded were preventable.

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