Barbados Advocate November 18, 1958

Barbados Advocate November 18, 1958

Barbados Advocate
Tuesday, November 18, 1958
US Navy Jet Crashes In Sea
Schooner Rescues Pilot: Mechanical Failure Blamed
Lt. Robert Lynn (27)

U.S. Navy Jet Crashes In Sea Off Barbados
Schooner Rescues Pilot: Mechanical Failure Blamed
by Tony Vanterpool
Thousand of awe stricken Barbadians looked skywards yesterday afternoon as a swept-winged F9F - Cougar jet aircraft of the Carrier U.S.S. Intrepid nosedived and plunged into the sea about five miles out to sea off the island's west coast. The aircraft was one of the squadron of 32 which gave a demonstration over the island.
Pilot of the aircraft, Lt. Robert Lynn (27) of Ohio, was fished out of the water about 15 minutes after the crash by the crew of the intercolonial auxiliary schooner Cyril E. Smith which is commanded by Captain Bertie Selby. Lynn, who has a wife and three children -two boys and a girl - back in Ohio, said shortly after being rescued: "It's good to have plenty people looking for you. First I must empty this water out of my shoes."
The crash created air history in this usually quiet island of Barbados where airline agents are noted for the numerous safety awards which decorate the walls of their offices.
A fleet of vessels went to the rescue of Lynn shortly after word was circulated that there was a crash. In the rescue area there were the Government Tug Lord Willoughby with Dr. Maurice Byer, Director of Medical Services, Dr. F.N.Grannum, port Health Officer, Mr. Ian Ga.e, Editor of the Barbados Advocate Newspaper and Mr. Tom Phillips, Acting Harbour and Shipping Master on Board: the Police Launch Hawk with Captain Wilfred Farmer, Deputy Commissioner of Police on Board: the Tug Whale which operates in the Deep Water Harbor area; other Government launches; about ten powered fishing launches and a few pleasure craft.
As stores closed in this thickly populated City crowds lined the waterfront to give pilot Lynn a hero's welcome which might have been even larger than that accorded the victorious West Indies cricket team which returned from England in 1950.
But the water-soaked Lynn was not privileged to received that welcome. A Grumman Goose amphibious aircraft of the St. Vincent Government Air Service was diverted to the area by Mr. Peter Lopez, Director of Civil Aviation. The Goose took Lynn aboard and he was flown to Seawell Airport where he spent a short time before being taken away by Mr. Knox Lamb American Consul.
Before leaving Seawell to spend yet another night in Barbados Lt. Lynn reported an account of the incident to the Intrepid by phone.
An Account
When interviewed on board the Lord Willoughby, Lt. Lynn, who although of his experience a few minutes earlier looked quite happy, said: "Shortly after I left the Intrepid the aircraft developed engine trouble. I could not return to the Carrier and was trying to get to the airport but just could not make it".
He explained that when he realized that the only alternative was to crash in the sea he made use of the ejector seat to get clear of the doomed jet. " At the time I was about 3,000 feet over the sea", he said.
Lt. Lynn explained that after being ejected from the aircraft the parachute" turned him around". For a few second he could not see the aircraft but later saw the "splash" as it struck the water.
It was the first time Lt. Lynn has had to make use of the ejector seat to save his life and referring to the incident, he said: "you get a kind of sensation which you cannot explain, I will not attempt to explain it."
The Cougar Jet which Lt. Lynn piloted is equipped with a Pratt and Whitney J 48 - P8 jet engine and reach a maximum speed of 690 miles an hour. It is 40 feet long and has a wing span of 34 feet 6 inches.
Opened Easy
The last time Lt. Lynn looked at his watch before crashing was 3:35 pm. Ten minutes later Barbados was in sight and it was only seconds before the formation from the Carrier had lost one of its jets. Lynn, who was wearing a life jacket at the time he was ejected from the aircraft, said: " The parachute opened quite easily." After hitting the water the life jacket was automatically inflated by tow small cylinder swhich it carries for emergency purposes. Lynn landed " feet first" and said: "In a fraction of a second I was afloat in the rubber dinghy."
While Lynn was in the water tow A.D.Sky Raider aircraft from the Intrepid circled the area. One Sky Raider was based at Seawell and took off from the airport when a call came through from the Intrepid that the Cougar was "in trouble". The other Sky Raider accompanied the Cougar from the Intrepid until it made the plunge.
Mr. Peter Lopex, who had been in the Control Tower at Seawell during the crash, said that he received word form the carrier Intrepid that the aircraft was having "trouble". At the time a Sky Raider aircraft from the Intrepid was on the parking apron.
Relayed Information
Mr. Lopex immediately relayed the information to Lt. Cmdr J.C. Wilkins of the Sky Raider and he went to the crash area. It was a flare dropped by Wilkins that indicated the spot where Lynn was floating and eventually led to his rescue by the Cyril E. Smith.
But Lt. Cmdr. Wilkins' Real duty was to relay information from the demonstration Squadron to the Control Tower at Seawell.
If Lt. Lynn had landed in a jungle he would have been able to defend himself against the attack of wild animals. His equipment comprised such items as a knife, revolver and a jun belt with many round s of ammunition.
With reference to his equipment, he said: " The U.S. spends a lot of money on developing survival gear for the lads and it all works good."
Within minutes of the crash word got around Bridge town. Four Fire Appliances from the Fire Brigade Station with tow Offices and 22 men rushed though the City to the Deep Water Harbour area after it was thought that the aircraft had crashed near Pelican Island.
En-route one the Appliances was involved in an accident with a car and caused greater confusion in the City.
Before leaving the Station the Fire Officer, through Rediffusion Service Ltd. Sent out a call for Fireman on leave and Rover Scouts to Standby for action.
Another Accident
Another Accident occurred along Cheapside Road when a motor lorry from the Police Department struck a shop. And, to add to this, aman in his anxiety fell overboard on the Pierhead while a number of bicycles collided on the Wharf.
Through all this anxiety and activity Lt. Robert Lynn relaxed comfortably on the Lord Willoughby with a two-pint cup of cold water, happy that he was alive after his experience of radio failure and engine trouble.
The only signs people ashore saw of the aircraft were a few bits of material which fisherman Bertie Nicholls of Bay Land Brought ashore in his powered fishing launch. The three pieces of wreckage appeared to have been part of the Cougar's tail section.