MARK HOLMBERG: The seemingly lucky history of military plane crashes

Posted at 11:07 PM, Apr 06, 2012
and last updated 2012-04-07 18:10:36-04

NORFOLK, Va. (WTVR)- One thing you can say for certain about the F-18 jet crash in Virginia Beach: it could have been so much worse.

And so it has been for most of the hundreds of military air crashes in the U.S. since the 1920s.

Those crashes began as soon as the military started flying.

One of the worst early ones, the crash of the USS Shenandoah airship in a field in Ava, Ohio, killing 14 of the 43 crew.

Civilians on the ground were rarely involved. One of the very first:  June 1935, a failing Douglas Y10-35 crash- landed in Los Angeles, hitting a car and killing three civilians.

Famously, on July 28, 1945, a B-25 bomber flying in heavy fog plowed into the 79th floor of the Empire State building killing three crew and 11 in the building.

It could have been so much worse.

The same could be said in October of 1987, when an A-70 Corsair II fighter jet flamed out and slammed  into an Indianapolis Ramada Inn hotel, exploding into a fireball. Ten civilians died, but many others in the immediate area survived.

An examination of the seemingly lucky history of these military crashes reveal two key factors:

The skill of the pilots in ditching planes away from populated areas.

And the typically remote locations of military air bases,  often beside oceans and other bodies of water, over which training flights typically occur.

Virginia Beach’s Oceana, for example was built in the midst of frequently flooded farmland beside the Atlantic Ocean 70 years ago. The city later built up around it.

Which is why frequent complaints about jet noise  there don’t have much a foundation. Plans for the military to buy property near the flight zones have also stalled.

The military presence has been a boon to Virginia Beach, as well as a service to this nation.

Anyone who doesn’t like the presence and potential threat of these screaming aircraft should consider moving elsewhere.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Navy jet crash in Virginia Beach