Today in History – July 11, 1996 – F-16C crashes trying to avoid Hurricane Bertha, another pilot ejects at 200 feet.

11 July 1996 – A General Dynamics F-16C Block 50C Fighting Falcon (#91-0354), of the 77th Fighter Squadron was being relocated from Shaw AFB, South Carolina, to Eglin AFB, Florida to avoid Hurricane Bertha. During the flight the aircraft developed engine failure. The engine had failed three times during the flight with two relights.

The pilot, Capt. Frederick G. Hartwig’s, first plan was to aim for Pensacola Naval Air Station. When it became clear he wouldn’t reach that, he tried for Pensacola Regional Airport. With the third engine failure the pilot, ditched the aircraft into what he hoped was an unpopulated area, and ejected at only 200 ft, two miles short of the runway. The plane crashed at ~1530 hrs. into a neighborhood 20 miles N of Pensacola, Florida, striking two homes and killing a four-year old boy. A man and woman in the house suffered burns.

Capt. Hartwig, was uninjured. The accident investigation showed foreign object damage to a fan blade caused a crack seven thousands of an inch (too small to visually spot). The blade was ingested into the engine.”

Excerpted from Tampa Bay Times, By KIT TROYER, Published Sep. 16, 2005 and Wikipedia

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