911 callers describe chaotic scene after Navy jet crash

Posted April 9, 2012 9:33 p.m. EDT
Updated April 9, 2012 11:27 p.m. EDT

— More than a half dozen 911 calls placed after a Navy jet plunged into an apartment complex in Virginia Beach Friday reveal a chaotic, smoky scene at an apartment community for seniors.

"A Navy plane just down off of 24th Street," the first caller told an emergency dispatcher. "It hit an apartment complex and I saw the pilot bail out."

"There's an airplane that just fell out of the sky," another caller said. 

Dozens of apartment units were destroyed or evacuated when the F/A-18D Hornet careened into the Mayfair Mews apartment complex shortly after taking off from nearby Naval Air Station Oceana. Several people were injured, but nobody died when the plane slammed into the apartment complex's empty courtyard.

"The blaze is terrible and something keeps exploding," a woman told 911.

Several residents heard the crash, but couldn't see the wrecked plane.

"I see a ton, a ton of smoke – just black, black smoke just billowing and billowing out," one woman said. 

"There was a huge explosion and then just billows of black smoke," another caller told 911.

The pilots ejected just before impact, the Navy said. One of them landed on a woman's patio.

"The pilot landed on your patio?" a 911 dispatcher asked.

"Yes, and there's nobody here," the woman answered. "I've been calling and calling and there's no ambulance."

The cause of the wreck is still under investigation, but the Navy is calling it a "catastrophic mechanical malfunction." The Navy is compensating about 63 people living in 46 units who were affected by the crash.