A4 Hooked and Hung
Hooked and hanging
Tue, 20 Feb 2001 16:07:43 -0600
Great Website! Takes me back to those exciting days on the '60's.
I was on Bennington as an S-2 pilot in VS-33 when Mark Pierce went over the side in the A-4.
My remembrance of that day is similar to Jacobson's.
There were a number of squalls in the area, and the winds were from all over the map.
We had just seen a number of fly-bys by a Navy P-2, and the A-4's were getting low on fuel, with no tankers nearby.
The ship turned up into the wind, and the A-4's came aboard, all except Pierce.
He was last, and the rainstorm had engulfed us by then.
I believe he boltered once and then made a determined effort to get aboard.
I watched the platt TV, and saw him lined up crossing a bit right to left.
The cable runout kept him on deck, but when it pulled him back, the port wheel dropped off the deck edge.
Over he went! I scampered over to the port forward catwalk, and saw the A-4 bouncing along with its nose in the water, hanging on the cross-deck pendant by its tailhook.
Mark was in the water, to be scooped up soon by the plane guard DD.
(The whites of his eyes were red as could be for many days after)
After much time, and being unable to raise the A/C to the deck, the cable was blown, and we watched the luckless A-4 sink away in the green Philippine Sea.
I had witnessed the loss of the ship's Huky-Took utility helo some time before, and the similarity was remarkable, seeing both aircraft disappear into the depths from a carrier dead in the water.
I had also watched the loss of VS-38's S-2 while flying about 2 miles astern .... and I will never get used to seeing such a thing.
I fly B-777's now for Continental Airlines, and will retire this year.
But, the absolute best flying days of my 40 year career were those operating off of the "Benjo maru!"
VS-33 1964 - 1967