Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Son Says Test-Pilot Father Died like a Hero, Stressing Safety

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Son Says Test-Pilot Father Died like a Hero, Stressing Safety

Article excerpt

Jim Crutchfield says he saw not only his test-pilot father's death, but also what he believes was a final heroic act in which he steered a falling F/A-18C Hornet Navy jet away from a house.

Nobody on the ground in Bethalto was injured when the jet flopped down Wednesday afternoon, in what the son likened to a pancake plopping into a skillet.

Jim, 18 and a pilot himself, trained by his father, said the plane had clicked before it fell, a noise he interpreted as meaning it was starved for fuel.

Jim had planned to accompany his father Sunday to the Czech Republic for an air show that was to include the maneuvers Jeffrey J. Crutchfield died practicing.

The son said the plane had just completed a loop, like the path of a string being tied into a knot, and returned to level flight.

"Then it fell flat, not in a nose dive, but flat," he explained. "The engine lost power. It sounded like it was trying to develop power, but it couldn't. It clicked like it needed fuel."

He then watched the plane veer away from a house and toward a garage. …

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