Today in History – October 2, 1997 – F-14A Tomcat crashes into Atlantic Ocean.

A Grumman F-14A-120-GR Tomcat, BuNo 161425, converted to F-14A+, later redesignated F-14B, of VF-101, based at NAS Oceana, Virginia Beach, Virginia, crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the North Carolina coast on October 2, 1997, moments after the two crew ejected.

“A Coast Guard helicopter later plucked the Tomcat’s radar intercept officer from 4- to 5-foot seas, but rescuers were still searching for the jet’s pilot after nightfall. The Navy declined to identify either of the crewmen…until their families were notified. The radar intercept officer was undergoing a medical examination at Oceana Thursday night and was reportedly in good condition.

“The U.S. Navy suspended the search for the missing aviator on 5 October. The cause of the crash was not known, the Navy said in a statement. A failure of left horizontal stab linkage—while the trailing edge was down—threw the plane into violent right-hand rolls. When the pilot put in corrective stick, the plane would pitch down violently due to a stuck left-hand horizontal stab. This flight condition was unrecoverable. The RIO pulled the ejection handle at 7000 feet. The mishap pilot died when his ejection seat failed.”

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