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A United States Navy Grumman EA-6B Prowler, BuNo 159582, 'AC-604', of VAQ-138, from NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, crashed at 08:50 hours into a field off London Bridge Road about three miles from the Oceana runway, killing three crew members. Wreckage sprayed onto nearby houses, a barn and a stable with 35 horses, but no fires were sparked and there were no ground injuries. According to a contemporary newspaper report: "A second cup of coffee may have saved Clinton Midgett and his family from serious injury - even death - when a flaming Navy EA6B prowler jet plowed into a horse pasture next to his father's house. Three Navy aviators from Whidbey Island, Washington, Naval Air Station were killed in the Thursday crash. The Prowler was en route to the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy off the Virginia coast when the crash occurred at 8:40 a.m., 8 minutes after takeoff from Norfolk Naval Air Station. "Normally, our routine would be for us to be on our way to the stable and let the horses out into the pasture," said Midgett, 31, whose father owns the Princess Anne Stables. "We would have been walking right across the pasture.'' Instead, the weather was gray and overcast, and Midgett's mother poured a second cup of coffee before the day's chores began. As they sipped their coffee in the den, near a window overlooking the pasture, the low-flying jet skimmed across the wood-rail fence surrounding the pasture. * "I heard the loud swish of a jet - very low - an explosion, a fireball and then impact," Midgett said. "We hear jets all the time. We knew it was abnormal for it to be so low. We dived first and then ran toward the other end of the house. As soon as it subsided, we went out the front of the house." Debris and mud rained down on the house, puncturing dozens of *grapefruit-sized holes in the roof. The explosion blew flower pots through screens and windows, said Midgett's sister, Pat Murray. Atlantic Fleet Naval Air Force spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Tom Connor identified the victims as: Lt. James H. Mallory Jr., 26, the pilot, of Savannah, Ga.; Lt. Cmdr. Jack A. Fisher, age unknown, of Stockton, Calif.; and Lt. Alfred J. Dupont Jr., age unknown, of Belle Vue, Wash. All three aviators were stationed at Whidbey Island, Wash., Naval Air Station and resided in Oak Harbor, Wash. Navy officials had not ascertained the cause late Thursday but speculated the ill-fated plane may have been attempting an emergency landing at Oceana, two miles from the crash site, although air traffic controllers said the crew had made no contact with the tower. Midgett said the pilot appeared to have carefully guided the plane into the pasture, halfway between the house and the stable. "He put it down in the best possible spot if he was going to put it any place," said Midgett. "I don't know if they were riding it to the ground to protect humanity, but if they did, I said a prayer for them." The flaming aircraft, which exploded into thousands of small chunks, plowed a 10-foot-deep crater into the pasture, and debris from the impact scattered for more than a half-mile around. The Navy said the three crewmen aboard the Prowler were killed, but there were no injuries on the ground, "With all the houses around, It's a miracle nobody else was hurt," said A.C. "Ace" Ewers, spokesman for Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach" Killed were Lt. James H. Mallory Jr., 26, the pilot from Savannah, GA; Lt. Cmdr Jack A. Fisher, 34 from Stockton, CA and Lt. Alfred J. Dupont, 27 from Bellevue, WA.
1. The Washington Post, 30 October 1981, page A-3. 2. The Stars and Stripes, October 31, 1981, page 6 3. Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California October 30, 1981 Page 2 at https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/2246455/ 4. http://www.ejection-history.org.uk/Aircraft_by_Type/a6_prowler.htm 5. http://www.joebaugher.com/navy_serials/thirdseries20.html 6. https://washingtonenvironmentalprotectioncoalition.org/3-how-growler-jets-harm-people/3-2-growler-jets-36-times-more-likely-to-crash-than-prowler-jets. 7. http://pilotonline.com/news/military/oceana-has-had--plus-aircraft-crashes-over-decades/article_01959fc2-a46d-581f-9230-a7c05a52810a.html
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