3 Killed on aircraft crash at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station

 Whidbey Island Naval Air Station

Three Dead When Navy Jet Crashes

The Navy confirmed this afternoon that all three crew members aboard a Whidbey Island Naval Air Station EA-6B Prowler were killed when the aircraft crashed this morning in Eastern Washington.

The ‘Prowler’ was on a training mission and plummeted to the ground in an un-populated area of Harrington, about 50 miles west of Spokane around 9 a.m. this morning.  The aircraft was part of the Electronic Attack Squadron VAQ-129.

The Spokane Spokesman-Review reported that a pair of Navy jets were operating in the area, according to Magers. The other plane reported the crash and then returned to base because it was low on fuel, he said.

The accident caused a deep crater in the open field.  Stan Dammel, manager of the Odessa Municipal Airport, told the Spokane paper he flew over the crash site and photographed it.  “It looked like an ink spot down there,” Dammel said.

The Prowler has been involved in other fatal crashes in 1992, 1996, and 2006.  In 1992 and again in 2001, crews parachuted to safety when their Prowlers crashed on the Olympic Peninsula. In 1998.  Three crewmen were lost when their Prowler crashed into another jet aboard the USS Enterprise, and they plummeted into the ocean in 1996.

In 1993, an A-6E Intruder, the plane the EA-6B is based on, collided with a crop duster over the Palouse near Diamond, Whitman County. The pilot of the crop duster was critically injured, and the Navy crew parachuted to safety.

And in 1998, the Marine pilot of a EA-6B Prowler severed a ski-gondola cable near Cavalese, Italy,  sending the 20 people aboard the gondola on 350-foot plunge to their deaths.

The EA-6B Prowler was first stationed at Whidbey Island in 1971 and deployed to Vietnam in 1972.

The names of the crew will be announced after their families have been notified.

James Turnage

Columnist-The Guardian Express