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Harrier Jet Crashes, Two-Man Crew Killed

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CHERRY POINT — A training Harrier jet crashed Saturday in an isolated section of the airfield at the Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station, killing both a flight instructor and his student.

One of the men who died was Capt. Jason Meiners, a native of Avon Lake, Ohio. He graduated from flight school last February, and he had been learning how to fly the Harrier jet. The other victim has not been identified yet, pending notification of family members.

Capt. Kurt Pool was preparing for takeoff on a nearby runway when he learned that a Harrier jet crashed during a landing attempt. He says he searched from the sky for any signs of the two men.

"The crash fire rescue had told us that they had both of the pilots so there would be no sense for us continuing with the search," he says.

The jet went down short of the runway in an isolated section of the airfield. Despite the incident, military officials still express confidence in the Harrier program however, residents like Tom Henson do not share their confidence.

"Their own orders call for them to stay above feet wet, which means they stay above water," he says. "When they come over the island, they are supposed to be 1,000 feet. Generally, they are between 500 to 600 feet."

Harrier pilots practice takeoffs and landings, the most dangerous part of any flight near Henson's home. Henson says the crash is further evidence that the Harrier jet should be grounded.

"Before yesterday, I wanted them to stop flying over Emerald Isle with the Harrier jet. Now, I want the Harrier's safety record investigated," he says.

Military officials have suspended all Harrier flights at Cherry Point until further notice.