Student Naval Pilot Was Flying at 15,000 Feet When Engine Caught Fire

T-45A Goshawk executes a turning rejoin during a formation flight over South Texas. (U.S. Navy/John A. Ivancic)
T-45A Goshawk executes a turning rejoin during a formation flight over South Texas. (U.S. Navy/John A. Ivancic)

A student naval aviator got some serious emergency landing training last week when the engine on a T-45C Goshawk aircraft failed and then caught fire mid-flight.

A pilot and instructor from Training Squadron 21 out of Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas, were 30 minutes into a planned hour-long training flight when they got indication of an engine fire.

Earlier in the day, the plane had taken off from Kingsville, near Corpus Christi. After landing about 50 miles northeast at Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Orange Grove, the pilots took off again as part of the out-and-in training flight.

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They were between 15,000 and 16,000 feet in the air when they had an engine failure, Lt. Michelle Tucker, a spokeswoman for the chief of Naval Air Training, said. After a successful restart, they got "momentary indications of an engine fire," she said.

"They immediately executed emergency landing procedures per their training and landed safely at NALF Orange Grove," Tucker said.

No one was injured in the incident, which Tucker said remains under investigation. It's too early to say what caused the engine troubles, she added.

The incident was reported by the Naval Safety Center this week, which tracks major mishaps. It was classified as a Class-A aviation accident, which means the aircraft suffered at least $2 million in damages or was destroyed.

Tucker said the Goshawk is expected to return to service, but at what point remains to be determined.

The engine failure and fire was the second Navy Class A aviation mishap so far this fiscal year, which started on Oct. 1. On Oct. 2, an E-6B Mercury aircraft, which is based on the Boeing 707 airframe, struck a bird when landing in Maryland.

There were no injuries reported in that incident.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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