St. Petersburg Times Online: News of Florida
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather
  • Statewide FCAT: Many scores look better
  • Pinellas: Schools weigh FCAT scores with caution
  • Hillsborough: Scores higher than state average
  • Citrus: Big picture appears brighter
  • Hernando: Some truths reveal themselves
  • Pasco: News so far: 'respectable scores'
  • Law to pump millions into Everglades
  • Bush campaign defends visit to elementary school
  • Jet crash may remain mystery, ex-officer says
  • Veto of 'raid' on land funds is urged
  • DCF's reports routinely faked, witnesses said
  • Butterworth challenges redistricting plan

  • From the state wire

  • Hurricane Jeanne appears on track to hit Florida's east coast
  • Rumor mill working overtime after Florida hurricanes
  • Developments associated with Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne
  • Four killed in Panhandle plane crash were on Ivan charity mission
  • Hurricane Frances caused estimated $4.4 billion in insured damage
  • Disabled want more handicapped-accessible voting machines
  • USF forces administrators to resign over test score changes
  • Man's death at Universal Studios ruled accidental
  • State child welfare workers in Miami fail to do background checks
  • Hurricane Jeanne heads toward southeast U.S. coast
  • Hurricane Jeanne spurs more anxiety for storm-weary Floridians
  • Mistrial declared in case where teen was target of racial "joke"
  • Panhandle utility wants sewer plant moved to higher ground
  • State employee arrested on theft, bribery charges
  • Homestead house fire kills four children, one adult
  • Pierson leader tries to cut off relief to local fern cutters
  • Florida's high court rules Terri's law unconstitutional
  • Jacksonville students punished for putting stripper pole in dorm
  • FEMA handling nearly 600,000 applications for help
  • Man who killed wife, niece, self also killed mother in 1971
  • Producer sues city over lead ball fired by Miami police
  • Tourism suffers across Florida after pummeling by hurricanes
  • Key dates in the life of Terri Schiavo
  • An excerpt from the unanimous ruling in the Schiavo case
  • Four confirmed dead after small plane crash in Panhandle
  • Correction: Disney-Cruise Line story

    printer version

    Jet crash may remain mystery, ex-officer says

    The unexplained crash of two Navy jets killed seven crew members, who were eulogized Wednesday.

    ©Associated Press
    May 16, 2002

    PENSACOLA -- The loss of two Navy training jets and seven crew members last week in the Gulf of Mexico may never be explained, a fellow aviator said Wednesday at a pair of memorial services.

    The T-39 Sabreliners, used for navigation, radar intercept, electronic warfare and other nonpilot training, vanished from radar about 40 miles south of Pensacola on May 8. Neither sent a distress signal.

    "I do not know now, nor do I ever expect to answer or understand why this happened," said retired Navy Capt. Charles Tinker in his eulogy. "I fear it will remain a tragic mystery."

    Tinker is chief pilot for Raytheon Aerospace LLC, which has a contract to fly the T-39s, a military version of a popular business jet.

    Harry White, spokesman for Pensacola Naval Air Station, where the planes were based, said he still could not confirm whether they collided.

    Navy investigators have not decided yet whether to find and bring up wreckage from below 210 feet of water, White said. No remains have been recovered.

    About 800 people filled the base chapel to memorialize the two Raytheon pilots, both Vietnam veterans. They were retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Homer "Gray" Hutchinson III, 57, of Pensacola; and retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Marshall F. "Fritz" Herr Sr., 59, of nearby Pace.

    The service then moved to Barrancas National Cemetery, also on base, where a pair of white and orange T-39s flew over in formation before one broke away left and the other right. An honor guard fired three rifle volleys and played taps.

    There was a second memorial later for all seven crew members at the National Museum of Naval Aviation, also part of the base. About 1,800 mourners, including Florida Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan, attended.

    The other victims included two instructors, Navy Lt. Cmdr. William R. Muscha, 36, of Fargo, N.D.; and Royal Saudi Air Force Maj. Ambarak S. Al-Ghamdi, 32, a native of Albaha, Saudi Arabia, who between them left behind 11 children.

    The remaining crew members were students: Navy Lt. Christopher T. Starkweather, 26, of Fort Atkinson, Wis.; Navy Ensign James T. Logan, 26, of Woodland Hills, Calif.; and Marine 2nd Lt. John N. Wilt, 23, of O'Fallon, Ill.

    Back to State news
    Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
    Special Links
    Lucy Morgan

    From the Times state desk