F-18 Crashes in Virginia Beach, Pilot Apologizes

An F-18 fighter jet has crashed into a Virginia Beach apartment complex, but the pilots bailed out, and in the end they and five others were injured non-critically. One pilot told a rescuer: "sorry for destroying your house."

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Update (6:20 op.m. EDT): The jet experienced a "catastrophic malfunction" during takeoff, CNN's reporting, but the Navy's still investigating exactly what happened. The leaking jet fuel does appear to be a part of whatever went wrong. The crew consisted of a student pilot in front and an instructor behind, the network noted. It also put the total injured at nine, all non-critical, per Mayor William Sessoms. Two were the plane's crew and one was apparently a firefighter who breathed in smoke, according to Firefighterclosecalls.com.

Update (5:31 p.m. EDT): More on that fuel dump: Reuters' Matthew Keys tweets that WVEC is reporting the dump was not intentional but rather part of the airplane's malfunction.

Update (5:24 p.m. EDT): In the Associated Press's latest version of its story, it puts the number of casualties at seven, including the pilots, and describes the F-18 crew dumping fuel from the plane before it crashed. That maneuver mitigated what Virginia Beach EMS chief Bruce Nedelka said "could have been an absolute massive, massive fireball and fire.

Update (3:21 p.m. EDT): More video is coming out from the minutes right after the crash. In this one you can clearly see the fire taking hold at the apartment complex:

Update (3:17 p.m. EDT): WAVY's now reporting six patients in total, including both pilots and four civilians, all injured non-critically, via @BreakingNews.

Update (3:15 p.m. EDT): Allen Fabijan, of Virginia Beach, tweets this photo of the plane's tail section smoking after the fire was put out:

Update (3:09 p.m. EDT): Local station WVEC has video of a guy who found one of the pilots. The pilot apologized for wrecking his house:

Update (3:06 p.m. EDT): The Virginian-Pilot's Sarah Hutchins tweets that five buildings burned at the same time immediately after the crash. Three have collapsed.

Update (2:59 p.m. EDT): CNN's Brooke Baldwin tweets: "I talked to VA Beach EMS -- he told me 3 people in hospital (including one of the pilots), NON-life threatening injuries."

Update (2:55 p.m. EDT): The Virginian-Pilot newspaper has a fantastic account from the Coastguardsman who rescued one of the pilots. Well worth a read:

Beane pulled his knife out to start cutting the cords from the parachute and the pilot regained consciousness.

"He said, 'Thank you,'" Beane said.

Then the pilot got quiet. He was looking around, dazed.

"He kept repeatedly saying, 'Is everybody OK?'" Beane said.

The pilot wanted to know if everyone in the apartment complex was safe and where his co-pilot was located.

Update (2:21 P.M. EDT): WAVY's reporting that the fire's out at the Mayfair Mews apartments, but firefighters are still spraying foam all over the site to prevent the spread of jet fuel.

Update (2:19 P.M. EDT): They've found the second ejection seat in someone's backyard. It looks pretty odd on that manicured grass:

Update (2:04 p.m. EDT): Former Navy SEAL Patrick McAleenan spoke with Navy Times. He "said the pilots ejected at the last possible second in an apparent effort to make sure that the plane would not crash into a nearby school.

Update (2:03 p.m. EDT): Keys reports via scanner traffic that five civilians have been sent to the hospital following the crash. The Navy, meanwhile, just released a statement saying the jet took off shortly after takeoff at 12:05 p.m.

Update (1:56 p.m. EDT): William Ingram, a Navy veteran from Oregon, shares this video from WAVY three months ago, when it covered a Navy drill simulating an F-18 crash in Virginia Beach:

Update (1:38 p.m. EDT): Keys tweeted this video from the scene, noting it was unconfirmed. It does look like the same apartment complex in the news reports:

Update (1:32 p.m. EDT): One of the pilots has been admitted to the hospital with a non-live-threatening injury, according to WAVY and one other person on the ground was reportedly injured.

Update (1:31 p.m. EDT): WAVY now has a helicopter over the apartment building, which you can see was pretty much destroyed in the crash:

Update (1:28 p.m. EDT): The New York emergency dispatch observer Twitter @911BUFF tweets this better image of the tail section:

Update (1:24 p.m. EDT): A Twitter user named Ash Greyson, who lives in Virginia Beach, just sent out this photo of one of the ejection seats:

Update (1:23 p.m. EDT): Reuters' Matthew Keys tweeted this shot of the smoke billowing out of the apartment building's front:

Update (1:16 p.m. EDT): The Navy says the plane is from Strike Fighter Squadron 106, out of Naval Air Station Oceana, in Virginia. The building is still on fire, local news reports, after the plane crashed at about 12:10 p.m.

Update (1:08 p.m. EDT): WAVY's live feed says no injuries have been reported at the scene, but as a newscaster noted, that seems unlikely. The jet crashed into the Mayfair Mews apartment building, which you can see in a Google map:

An F-18 fighter jet has crashed into a Virginia Beach apartment building, the Navy confirmed to local NBC affiliate WAVY. The pilots reportedly bailed out, but the situation on the ground is still unclear. We'll keep this report updated.

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