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F-18 Hornet Crashes Trying To Land In Rain

Fri., Dec. 6, 1996, midnight

An F-18 Hornet crashed while trying to land in the rain at night on an aircraft carrier, and the pilot ejected at the last moment, suffering minor injuries from a hard landing on the flight deck.

The $36.7 million fighter-attack jet hit the stern of the USS Abraham Lincoln Wednesday, skidded across the deck and sank in the North Pacific, a total loss, the Navy said Thursday.

Christopher F. Hodges, a member of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron VMFA-314 at Miramar Naval Air Station, Calif., landed on his buttocks in a partial sitting position before his parachute could deploy fully.

Several disks in his spine were fractured, and Hodges had “some severe abrasions on his skin from skidding along that deck,” said Cmdr. Dana Covey, an orthopedic surgeon.

The USS Abraham Lincoln is conducting a week of sea trials after undergoing maintenance at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton. The carrier is scheduled to return to Puget Sound today.

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