Behind the camera: Deck Camera
Where: Flight deck of the USS Theodore Roosevelt
Photo Summary: John Bridget is shown getting sucked into an A-6E’s engine
Picture Taken: 03:41:11 Feb 20, 1991
This image is in the public domain because it was taken by Navy personnel
Not to be confused with the video of a helmet getting sucked into a Jet, this video is actual footage of a one John Bridget (21 years old at the time) getting sucked into an A-6E Intruder’s jet engine. It’s been a segment on numerous TV shows like World’s Wildest Videos and has since been taped, digitized and uploaded to the net. Once online it became quite famous, as its small size made for easy sharing. The footage got a second life when it was revealed that not only did the man get sucked into an engine but that he survived.
Getting sucked into a Jet engine doesn’t happen very often but it has happened in the past. In another incident in January 01, 2006 a mechanic was sucked into the jet engine of a Boeing 737 at El Paso International Airport and killed.
The video starts on the flight deck of the USS Theodore Roosevelt and according to the camera time, it’s 03:41:11 Feb 20, 1991. An A-6E pilot is getting ready for take off as a trainee checks the position of the carrier launching mechanism. All this time the pilot has the engines at full throttle and as the trainee moves away from the trainer, a green shirt (Navy personnel wear color coated uniforms), John Bridget, comes to make sure everything is OK. Navy personal Daniel P Streckfuss tells the story from there:
I was attached to VFA-15 on board the USS Theodore Roosevelt during that deployment in 1991. This occurred [during Desert Storm, Desert Storm ended February 28, 1991]. He did survive and I’m surprised the editors of that video didn’t include him climbing out. What allowed him to survive was the design of the A-6 engine (the J-52). It has a long protruding ‘bullet’ or cone that extends in front of the first stage fans. When he was sucked in, his arm extended above his head which caused his body to wedge between the bullet and inside wall of the intake. Lucky for him, his cranial and float coat were sucked in first causing the FOD’d engine which prompted the pilot to cut the throttle (commanded by the Shooter who moves into the frame kneeling and moving his wand up and down). It took almost 3 minutes for him to push his way out of the intake after being sucked in. Needless to say, I don’t think he was seen on the flight deck for the rest of the cruise.
According to the video, the scene where he has bandages around his head and his arm taped up was taken only a few hours after the incident. After recovering from his injuries he left the Navy.
The A-6E Intruder, the plane that sucked in the Navy man, is a twin-engine, mid-wing attack aircraft built by Grumman Aerospace. In service between 1963 and 1996, the Intruder was designed as a replacement for the piston-engined A-1 Skyraider. A specialized electronic warfare derivative, the EA-6B Prowler, remains in service as of 2006. As the A-6 neared retirement, it was replaced at some reduction in combat radius by the multi-role F/A-18 Hornet and fighter-bomber adaptations of the now also retired F-14 Tomcat.
USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71)
The video was filmed on the flight deck of USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) (known affectionately as the Big Stick or TR). It is the fourth Nimitz-class supercarrier and its call sign is Rough Rider, the name of President Theodore Roosevelt’s volunteer cavalry unit during the Spanish-American War. It was launched on 27 October 1984 and saw action in the first Gulf War. On 9 June 1990, Capt. Charles S. Abbot became the ship’s third Commanding Officer and on 28 December, Theodore Roosevelt and CVW-8 deployed for Operation Desert Shield. Theodore Roosevelt entered the war on 9 January 1991, eventually flying over 4,200 sorties (more than any other carrier) and dropping more than 4,800,000 pounds of ordnance before the cease-fire on 28 February.