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Four Navy aviators rescued off NC coast

Posted May 26

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— The two U.S. Coast Guard pilots who rescued four Navy aviators following what officials called an 'in-air mishap' Thursday said the men were in good spirits following the incident.

Officials said the incident happened about 25 miles east of the Oregon Inlet, in Nags Head, at about 10:30 a.m.

Two of the Navy pilots were rescued by a commercial fishing vessel, but the other two remained in the water nearby.

Lt. Commander Jeff Cowan said the two pilots in the water immediately became the priority.

"A boat was trying to get to them, and we are greatly appreciate of their efforts," he said. "Both sets of crews were within about five miles of each other, and other Navy jets were marking their position."

Cowan said two rescue swimmers were lowered into the water, and the two pilots were hoisted into the aircraft.

"(The rescued pilots) were in pretty good spirits," he said. "They were able to carry a conversation and move about."

Lt. Jack Shadwick said by the time a second helicopter arrived on scene, the two men rescued by the fishing vessel had transferred to a small Coast Guard vessel with a trained crew.

They were then lifted into the second helicopter and flown to shore.

"In this particular case, a rescue swimmer was down on the boat and we were able to determine we could put the two men in a basket," Shadwick said. "The two survivors we picked up were in pretty good condition considering what they went through."

He said the transfer was easy, and that everyone worked together.

"The way all of the assets worked together was seamless," Shadwick said. "We could not have asked for a better outcome."

All four Navy aviators were taken to a local hospital with minor injuries.

The two F/A-18F Super Hornets were from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA)211 at Naval Air Station Oceana in Norfolk, Va..

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

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