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Report: Deadly Navy Jet Crash Caused By Pilot Error

Lieutenant Junior Grade Valerie Cappelaere Delaney
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: <ul> <li>The unnecessarily accelerated training of Lt. Patterson and his assignment as an instructor in this event.</li> <li>The failure to recognize and/or act on the marginal capability demonstrated by Lt. Delaney in the low attitude environment.</li> <li>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.”</li> </ul>

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