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September 11 jet gets restored

April 16, 2012, 09:45 am

The F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet was the first aircraft to respond to calls on September 11, 2001 after the terrorist attacks hit New York City and the Pentagon. The jet flew over Washington, D.C., and toward the Pentagon once the call was made.

Now the historic aircraft is being sent to the National Museum of the Marine Corps to be restored and preserved as a historic artifact. Museum aviation curator Ben Kristy said the Hornet was the first Marine asset to respond to the terrorist attacks and is the first Marine aircraft to fly a protective patrol over Washington, D.C. after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Since then the jet has been assigned to a VMA reserve unit stationed at Andrews Air Force Base.

The aircraft first entered flight in 1984, and was involved in an accident during its final flight. To keep the skies safe pilots should invest in pilot insurance in case of an accident. The Hornet experienced the accident when it overshot the runway at the Marine Corps Air Facility in Qantico Marine Corps Base in 2004. The pilot was able to eject from the plane safely, and the aircraft landed in swampy ground leaving it relatively undamaged. It is not on display at the Basic School after restorations. The school and museum acquired the jet to restore it and put it into the future Phase II galleries that will be on display at the national museum in 2018.

Similarly, the Air Force is also retrofitting the F-22 Raptor fighter jets, specifically replacing the handles that engage the plane's emergency oxygen system after pilots reported feeling lightheaded and a captain died from a crash caused by the malfunction. The captain, Jeffrey Haney, died in November 2010 during a night mission 100 miles north of Anchorage, Alaska. The $143 million aircraft nosedove into a mountain range after the pilot lost consciousness. Investigators at the crash site found the plane's controls and switches affected the crash, especially the aircraft's emergency oxygen system activation ring on the back edge of the ejection seat.

The investigators realized there was a problem with the system after an independent scientific advisory board studied the jet's various safety issues and found critical items that needed to be fixed. The new modifications will make it easier for pilots to access the handle, which provide better grip especially for pilots wearing cold weather gloves and gear.

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