Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Transfer Of Power | Racial Justice

Report: Deadly Navy Jet Crash Caused By Pilot Error

Photo credit: Facebook

Lieutenant Junior Grade Valerie Cappelaere Delaney

A new accident report finds pilot error was to blame for the deadly crash of a Navy EA-6B Prowler jet thatwent dow shortly after taking off from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington state on March 11, 2013.

As Home Post reported last year, the plane was conducting a routine training flight when it crashed in an unpopulated area roughly 50 miles west of Spokane.

Killed in the crash were:

-Lieutenant Junior Grade Valerie Cappelaere Delaney; Naval Aviator; 26; from Ellicott City, Md.

-Lieutenant Junior Grade William Brown McIlvaine III; Naval Flight Officer; 24; from El Paso, Texas

-Lieutenant Commander Alan A. Patterson; Naval Flight Officer; 34; from Tullahoma, Tenn.

All three crew members were assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron 129 (VAQ-129) at NAS Whidbey Island.

The Spokane Spokesman-Review published the accident report, which was released by the Navy's Pacific Fleet headquarters in San Diego. The report reads, in part:

“The normally sufficient risk controls that did exist for this flight were undermined in three specific circumstances:

  • The unnecessarily accelerated training of Lt. Patterson and his assignment as an instructor in this event.
  • The failure to recognize and/or act on the marginal capability demonstrated by Lt. Delaney in the low attitude environment.
  • As stated in the investigation, all three aviators were technically qualified for the event. However when this crew was placed together in the low-altitude regime, their combined proficiency left them little margin for error.”

Shortly after the crash, Seattle television station KCPQ-TV reported on the backgrounds of the three Naval aviators who lost their lives:

Three Naval Aviators Killed In Plane Crash

FEATURED PODCAST

San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Curious San Diego banner

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.