f-14 Hot on the heels of the F-16 Bird Strike Video that turned out not to be an F-16, I bring you the video of an F-14 performing a high-speed fly-by of the USS John Paul Jones and then exploding.

Note the guys yelling at the end about seeing "two parachutes! Two parachutes!"

I get the felling there's a fair amount of amateur military aviation mishap video floating around out there. If you happen to have some, send 'em my way. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at March 13, 2006 08:28 AM

Reader Comments
# Aaron said:

That is indeed an F-14. Swing Wing like the F-18A without the angled tail pieces.

on March 13, 2006 09:42 AM
# Darryl Ramm said:

This is my favorite stupid aviation accident video - http://www.alexisparkinn.com/photogallery/Videos/2006-O_Ye_of_Little_Faith.avi
This was one of the videos they showed at Beal AFB during chamber ride training. It is an Apache pilot showing very bad judgement trying to fly between trees. The audio is pretty amusing. I'd be curious what action the army took against the pilot.

on March 13, 2006 11:18 AM
# said:

That was hilarious (the Apache thing).

Did they determine what made the F14 blow up?

on March 13, 2006 12:49 PM
# Michael Maclean said:

I found out a bit more about that accident, and the eventual fate of the pilot, here:

He was killed in a similar accident in an F-14 later.

on March 13, 2006 01:29 PM
# Paul Pencikowski said:

It is *inconceivable* that the F-14 fly-by explosion could be "pilot error". This of course does not mean the Navy couldn't call it that. There are literally *dozens* of F-14 losses due to the s**t TF-30 engine that were classified as "pilot error" with the acompanying trashing of that hapless pilots' career.

I myself went through an F-14 both-engine-flameout (2 dead engines at 32,000 feet, the pilot got one running at 6,000 feet). No doubt if we ejected from that jet, *somehow* the Navy would have classified it as "pilot error".

As to the fly-by-explosion pilot being the same guy who later lost another F-14 (I do not have the info to comment on that) I *am* familiar with the "high performance pull-up into cloud" F-14 loss which *was* pilot error.

Historical note: The military does *not* like losing airplanes. And will often stretch the truth to laughable levels to cover-up the reality.

Case in point: During the Vietnam war, the military hated "combat losses" which ended up on the evening news. So they literally "invented" the term "combat zone". If a plane was lost inside the combat zone, it was a combat-loss. Otherwise an "accident".

Example-1: Many B-52's were shot-up during the bombing of Hanoi (I was there). If they made it out of the combat zone, streaming hydraulic fluid (etc) later forcing a crew-ejection, this was labeled "aircraft lost due to loss of hydraulic fluid" ie an "accident".

Example-2: My squadron (VF-103, Phantoms) flying off the USS Saratoga lost 3 planes to enemy fire. One to a surface/air missile, one to ground-fire, and one was (yes "embarassing") shot down by a Mig. But 2 planes, coming home from real shoot-'em-up combat missions, had (A) Fuel-tank fire and (B) bleed air system (engine) fire and both these losses were called *accidents* because they were-indeed recovered aboard the ship (although never to fly again).

In 6 months of combat, my squadron lost 50% (that's right "half") of our airplanes.

Paul P.

on March 14, 2006 11:27 PM
# Abhi said:

More about this- http://forum.ebaumsworld.com/showthread.php?t=39693



This is my first post on Ebaums and really I am posting to clarify a few things.

1) I am a Navy Air Traffic Controller.
2) I was stationed aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) From 1994-1999.
3) I was on Marshal Control in the Carrier Air Traffic Control Center (CATCC) when this accident happened.

Iím not certain how many specifics I can get into. I do not think I can get into where we were exactly or where we were going. However, the accident report has been declassified and as such I can relay a few pertinent facts about what happened.

I was tracking the Aircraft and he was traveling at a high rate of speed. He never requested to do a flyby on the John Paul Jones and since he was inside my airspace (out to 60 nautical miles) he should have made a request to do so. Fact is he never was in communications with me at all.

Naval investigators concluded the loss of the airplane was due to "pilot error" because Bates failed to take the required action to prevent his plane from going into an uncontrollable spin after an engine stall.

The F-14 he was flying was an F-14A and the engines on that series were prone to compressor stalls when making high angle of attack maneuvers, at high speeds, in dense atmosphere (read: Low altitude). At the time of this accident they were transitioning to the F-14B with engines that were 30% more powerful.

Because of the great distance between F-14 engines, asymmetrical thrust becomes a real problem should one engine fail.

Going outside of the official mishap investigation; it would appear to me that just prior to the explosion, LCDR (Lieutenant Commander) Bates place his aircraft in a very hard turn. If you look at the video, you will notice the aircraft flying at a 90-degree wing down attitude just prior to the explosion.

As I stated earlier; Naval investigators concluded the loss of the airplane was due to "pilot error".

Some of you may recall there was an F-14 accident in January of 1996. In this accident the pilot requested an "Unrestricted climb" and his departure took him vertical. He was observed to pass into an overcast layer of clouds at nearly a 90-degree angle of attack. Shortly after he was seen going into the clouds, his aircraft reversed direction and impacted a house. The pilot, RIO (Radar Intercept Officer) and three people on the ground were killed.

The findings on this accident were also found to be "pilot error".

Can you guess who the pilot of the later flight was? If you guessed LCDR John Stacy Bates you would be correct.

In a period of 16 months, there were 4 losses of F14's in LCDR Bates' squadron, VF-213 the Fighting Black Lions. Two of which were attributed to him.

on March 17, 2006 03:15 AM
# Err said:

Whas's best F18 or F14 ?

on March 17, 2006 11:54 AM
# Thunderkiss65 said:

The tomcat is better. More power, longer range, greater payload. It is also more expenisve and complicated to maintain.

on August 24, 2006 10:36 AM
# DA said:

Holy crap a video comments site where people actually are in the know about what they're viewing. Half the time this plane would have been called an F-22 or something.

Oh, wait;

"Swing Wing like the F-18A without the angled tail pieces."

At any rate, thanks for your posts Abhi and Paul Pencikowski! Fly Navy!

on August 25, 2006 04:05 PM
# FTR RIO said:

Abhi posts a lot of good and factual information here, but he's mixing a couple of incidents into one. Stacy was responsible for two different crashes while at VF-213, but this was not one of them.

Stacy's first accident occured during an ACM hop with a TARPS Pod installed. The pod weighs about 1,800 lbs, plus you have to add additional weight (about 2,000 lbs) in the forward body weapons stations to keep the CG within range. Now, you're talking the plane weighs 4,000 lbs more than it has to for ACM flight.

This additional weight and drag causes the plane to bleed energy much quicker. During their ACM hop they departed controlled flight (I believe a zero airspeed departure) and failed to recover. The crew punched and put a perfectly good airplane in the drink. This scenario happened to me and my pilot during an ACM hop with a TARPS pod over W-291 in the SOCAL ops area. We departed controlled flight, but unlike Stacy, who applied positive control to try to recover, my pilot released the controls and put his hands up high were I could see them from the back seat (this is the proper recovery procedure, by the way, not anything we came up with). The airplane did a couple of rolls, turned nose down, and started to gain airspeed. At that point the control surfaces were effective again and we just flew out of the situation.

Stacy's second accident was as you described. He was on a cross-country (Tennessee I believe) and did what you described. His second accident was particularly memorable because it was the day after the AIRPAC change of command and the new admiral had to fly out the Tennessee to deal with this mess.

Nice job posting. You really know your stuff. That whole battle group seemed to be jinxed, with other squadrons also losing aircraft and I believe that was the cruise when the carrier collided with the refueling ship after one of them lost steering.

As to the cause of this particular accident, I don't recall what we discussed at the safety standown or what was on the accident report. For some reason, a panel door coming loose forward of the intakes and getting sucked down the engine rings familiar, but I can't confirm that.

FYI, Aaron, the F-18 does not have swing wings.

on August 31, 2006 12:43 AM
# DA said:

Just wondering FTR RIO, is there a forum here where you guys who are 'in the know' post? I'd like to check it out if so. I'm always interested in reading about US Naval Aviation.

on September 1, 2006 10:52 AM
# JKB said:


I dont disagree with you, but ABHI said he was on station aboard the carrier that controlled that airspace. He said it was Bates, so I tend to think he is right. I dunno?

on September 25, 2006 10:21 AM
# said:

A few comments on the posting by Abhi: I was on-board the John Paul Jones when this clip was filmed. In fact I was standing directly behind the ST3 that was filming it. After the accident, the tape was confiscated for evidence. Not sure how it got here (might have something to do with the copy made before turning it in to the XO.
This video does NOT depict an illegal flyby. In fact it was a scheduled flight profile designed to simulate an attacking surface to surface soviet missile. The idea was to track the target and see how the fire control system responded. All weapons were safed so dont get any ideas about accidental shots. Fact is I was the MSS (missile system supervisor) and can attest to this fact. As you can see Abhi doesnt quite have it correct. He would not have had control of the F-14. An AIC (Air Intercept Controller) aboard the John Paul Jones accepts that responsibility in exercises involving his ship. As for the details previously posted regarding the F-14 and the pilot, I cannot comment except to say that the pilot was not acting insobordinate by conducting an "illegal" flyby. It was a planned exercise.
However, I am glad to see this video after so many years. Now I can show it to those unbelievers I told this story to.

on September 21, 2007 03:05 PM
# Mike G said:

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on October 23, 2007 12:50 PM
# Mike G said:

Lets try this again. This is not a video of the Stacy Bates crash. The pilot of this plane is named Neil Jennings. He responded to the ebaums world account posted by Abhi and pretty much debunked it. Stacy Bates was in his squadron and did crash twice (he died in the 2nd crash along with his RIO and 2 people on the ground). You can read Neil's account of this crash (which both he and his RIO survived) here:


on October 23, 2007 02:06 PM
# Denny P said:

FTR RIO is correct about Bates' second accident being in Tennessee; Nashville to be exact. My stepfather was the pilot of a Delta jet (probably captaining 727 at that time but he flew most of DAL's aircraft at some point) taking off from BNA just after the F-14, and he had to abort his takeoff when he saw what the F-14 did. As he described it, the F-14 pulled vertical right after positive rate and went into the overcast layer which was at about 1000' AGL. He remembers thinking that doing so was probably a pretty stupid thing to do given the overcast, and was quickly proven right as the F-14 came back down out of the clouds out of control. At the time he speculated that it was probably just vertigo that got the guy.

on October 25, 2007 04:26 PM
# steve said:

mike g is correct. the pilots name was neil jennings. he was my C/O in the Argonaughts (VFA-147). He has just recently retired from the navy.

on December 23, 2008 09:11 AM
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