Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pilot Hit Canyon in Oman

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pilot Hit Canyon in Oman

Article excerpt

Lt. Jason E. Jakubowski was flying his Cecil Field-based FA18

jet through an area of Oman known as "Star Wars Canyon" when it

hit a canyon wall, killing the 26-year-old pilot, his wife

said.

"There's no room for error, to say the least," said

Jakubowski's wife, Robyn, who was notified Sunday of her

husband's death during a low-level training flight from the

Mayportbased carrier USS John F. Kennedy.

Meanwhile, a Navy P-3 Orion airplane, home-based in

Jacksonville, was dispatched to Africa to help search for the

crews of American and German military planes feared to have

collided Saturday in mid-air.

The accidents were among three military air crashes over the

weekend. An F-117A stealth fighter also went down Sunday during

an airshow in Maryland, resulting in several minor injuries on

the ground.

Assigned to Strike-Fighter Squadron 15, Jakubowski's FA18

crashed about 3:10 a.m. EDT about 75 miles northeast of Raysut,

Oman, in the Mideast. The cause of the crash remains under

investigation, said Chuck Underwood, a spokesman at Cecil Field

Naval Air Station.

Robyn Jakubowski said she and her husband both realized the

inherent risks of his job and had discussed it. But, she said,

"He loved his job. This is the nature of the beast."

She said her husband was "born to fly." His father is a

commercial airline pilot. "It was in his blood," she said.

A 1993 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, where he will be

buried, Jakubowski had been the top pilot in his FA-18 training

squadron, his wife said. He joined the squadron at Cecil Field,

his first fleet assignment, last October.

Robyn Jakubowski said she had just talked to her husband the

weekend before the crash. He told her that he loved and missed

her and couldn't wait to get back home.

The Kennedy is scheduled to return in just a few more weeks, at

the end of October.

Robyn Jakubowski said officers came to her home Sunday morning

to notify her of her husband's death. But before they said a

word, she realized something was terribly wrong.

"I ran away from them when they came to the door, all the white

uniforms," she said. "I knew."

Jakubowski's remains were recovered and transported back to the

ship, officials said. They are expected to arrive back in the

United States this weekend.

A memorial service is tentatively scheduled for tomorrow

morning at the chapel at Cecil Field.

"He'll forever be in my heart," Robyn Jakubowski said.

Meanwhile, senior military leaders in Europe requested a P-3

Orion aircraft -- from Jacksonville Naval Air Station but

forward-deployed to Sigonella, Sicily -- help in the search for

the downed German and American planes.

Thirty-three people were missing off the coast of southern

Africa. …

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