back to article 'I don't blame pilot', says San Diego jet crash father

The man who on Monday lost his wife, two daughters and mother-in-law in the San Diego jet fighter crash says he doesn't blame the pilot, who "did everything he could" to avoid the disaster. Don Yoon, 37, yesterday visited the remains of his home in the suburb of University City. His Cather Avenue house was completely destroyed …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Tis a shame...

    He crash landed about 10 meters away from open ground. He ejected at the last possible second, after his jet started skimming across the top of trees.

    "However, the San Diego Union-Tribune raises a question mark over why Neubauer "chose to land at Miramar"

    Simply because he was already heading there, and it was closer. He lost both engines, which means he basically had a flying brick.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Mr Yoon

    What a remarkable attitude. An asset to the human race. I can only hope that in a similar situation I would be able to cope half as well. I salute you Sir!

  3. Steve McPolin


    "The guy was flying the most direct route he could to get the plane on the ground.”

  4. Onionman


    "However, the San Diego Union-Tribune raises a question mark..."

    So, a journalist, sitting in a nice safe office with a few hours to decide, feels justified in questioning the actions of a highly trained airman flying a damaged jet with a few seconds to make life or death decisions.

    Journalists. Doncha just love 'em?


  5. Tim Spence


    I don't mean to be cynical, but until we know the full details of what happened - and I mean what *actually* happened, not what a pilot has told us to save his ass - how can this guy have such confidence in the pilot? Of course, if some kind of foul play or irresponsible flying was present, then it's likely we'd never heard about it - the Navy will keep that under their cap.

    Friends of mine who have flown out of Miramar have told me they used to do all sorts of crazy Top Gun style things. The common cause of accidents (not necessarily at Miramar) was flying nose up and riding on the thrust alone - they'd lose an engine from one side, which would cause them to spin to that side and with air speed being less than the stall speed, they'd drop like a stone. If this guy was showing off in some way, he needs to be dealt with.

    But still, a commendable attitude from Mr Yoon, given the circumstances.

  6. Aaron

    It's the pilot I feel sorry for, too

    I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up committing suicide in the not-too-distant future, the poor bastard, and he'll be second-guessed on the subject from now until he dies in any case.

    Well done Mr. Yoon, I don't believe I would be ready to think that equitably about the situation in his shoes, but let's not forget to keep the pilot in our good thoughts as well.

  7. Steve Todd

    Jet engines are some of the most reliable machines made

    so it's a reasonable guess that after one fails the other one will keep running until you get to a landing field. Twin engine civil airliners used to have to stay within one hours flying time of a runway, but the proven reliability of the engines has lead to this being extended first to two and then to three hours for the latest types.

    It sounds like the pilot was doing exactly what the manual said he should do. The stupidity seems to have been from the planners who approved building on the approach to a military training base.

  8. Francis Boyle

    re:Tis a shame...

    When he made the decision to head to Miramar he was running on one engine - i.e. the plane was already in some significant danger of crashing. Surely good operational practice in such situations would be to avoid populated areas, if at all possible, even if it means a greater risk of losing the aircraft.

    Not that I'm blaming the pilot. I'm sure that he acted as he was trained to do, possibly even as he was ordered to do but I do question the procedures that allowed this to happen.

  9. Joe Cooper

    @An asset to the human race.

    Seconded. That kind of loss is _extremely_ hard.

  10. Daren Nestor

    Agreed on Mr Yoon

    I have every sympathy with the poor man, and it is to his great credit that he can have such a forgiving attitude at a time like this.

  11. Steve Foster


    The key word missed out of that phrase is (of course) "safely".

    Otherwise, the most direct route to get a plane on the ground is to stick it into a vertical dive...

  12. Gary
    IT Angle

    Useful information

    Sure, this article actually had information about the crash as opposed to all the other so-called news sources, but I fail to see the IT connection.

    Does seem a bit odd that he'd lose one engine and then the other shortly afterwards. Usually fuel is the cause of that, unless he flew near a flock of birds. But I suppose the Heathrow 777 crash proves it could be something than the obvious.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Bad Taste

    Of course the guy was good natured. He had just lost his mother-in-law!

    Mine's the one with "Going to hell" written on it.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Lt Dan?

    Another failure to die a glorious death in combat.

    Mine's the one with the box of chocolates in the pocket.

  15. Dan

    Single-engine failure...

    "all military pilots train for a single-engine failure, although it's a rare event"

    Technically true, although it would be far more accurate to say that all pilots train for single-engine failure, even those who are only rated for single-engine aircraft. Lose an engine? Fly to the nearest airport that can land you- and a proper preflight means that you always know exactly where that is.

    The pilot ejected, said the article. What of the navigator?

  16. Remy Redert

    @Anonymous Coward

    Actaully, he suffered a single engine failure while he was on training, presumably over water or otherwise uninhabited areas. Then he turned to Miramar, the closest runway, to land. Before he got a chance to do any actaul landing, the second engine failed and his plane did indeed turn into a flying brick.

    At that point, he would have pretty much lost all control over the jet, what with having no power, no hydraulics.

  17. Jack Kramer

    WTH, Tribune?

    Also a thought for the Tribune - perhaps he wanted to have a chance of surviving a crash? Even if he could have gotten the jet over water on approach to the other airstrip, if he came down in the drink we'd never have found him, or the plane.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    how could he blame the pilot?

    its not like the pilot thought "that house looks like a good place to crash" or even "this muti million $ plain is just too difficult to handle so i'm just gonna bail cos I cant be assed to land it"

  19. Richard

    Amazingly Brave..

    Mr. Yoon is an amazingly brave guy and the true definition of a patriot. In this age of "Blame & Claim Culture" he has ignored the "Ambulance chasers" and not just forgiven the pilot but called him a national treasure.

    My God what an Incredible man!

    As to the rights & wrongs of the pilots choice of airfield lets hope the Powers that be will show equal restraint and not hang the guy out to dry , after all Im sure he was in constant contact with the ground and that others were involved in his eventual choice of landing field.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I would like to second the comments made by the AC with regards to the attitude MR Yoon took to this tragedy. Its an admirable quality that in the face of such tragedy this man could take such a view. In dark times where hope is at a premium this helps repair my faith in humanity.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Armchair experts !

    "the San Diego Union-Tribune raises a question mark over why Neubauer "chose to land at Miramar, which involves an approach over heavily populated La Jolla and University City, instead of North Island Naval Air Station"

    What does this expert newspaper recommend that aircraft built with only one engine (F16) should do ? Are they different to a twin with one dead donkey?

    This pilot will live with guilt for the rest of his life anyway. Why pillory him unless he is proved to have failed to follow procedure?

  22. charles blackburn


    yea... down...

  23. Vincent
    Thumb Up

    Re: Mr Yoon


  24. James Pickett (Jp)
    Thumb Up

    I'm With AC

    From what I've read, it does seem that the pilot did everything he could.

    In reacting to what happened to his family, I wouldn't have blamed him if he'd hurled every insult under the sun, but his dignified response does him and his family proud.

  25. Ian

    Of course he's not mad at the pilot

    The pilot did away with his mother in law after all.

  26. Richard

    @AC Re Mr Yoon

    My sentiments too. An incredibly caring and thoughtful man.

    A very sad story nontheless.

  27. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Up


    ... what a remarkable man. Most Americans would probably have been reaching for their lawyers by then...

  28. Alastair

    A what now?

    "The Miramar-based 3rd Marine Air Wing will convene a “aircraft mishap board”"

    And the award for most euphamistic organisation name goes to...

  29. N

    Mr Yoon

    I agree with ACs post & I too salute your remarkable attitude at a moment of considerable distress

  30. Stephen May


    The FA-18D is single seat, so no navigator onboard.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Actually, he was in a dual-seat, but there was still no navigator on board. EOD was out there looking for the other seat because the CAD's on it are explosive.

  32. GF
    Thumb Up

    Mr. Yoon is very brave!

    The San Diego Union-Tribune is the coward. You go for the nearest airport, and Miramar was the closest. Then you have a flying bathtub on your hands when both engines quit. Sure, I could say that may be the pilot should have gone to a higher altitude when one engine quit, so that he can glide his plane in if both engines quit. I wasn't there in the pilot's seat, and I am not in any position to criticise the pilot's decisions, which wasn't many to choose from due to the crisis at hand.

    Sorry for the loss for Mr. Yoon and others from this accident. Based on what I read, I believe the pilot did what he could to avoid the accident.

  33. John Grainer


    The Great Santini this pilot was not. I am a pilot, a former Marine, the father of a child killed in an airplane accident. I live near a Naval Air Station(Fallon). I sympathize with both of these men, and their families. However there are serious questions that need answers. If the policy says that it is okay to direct a crippled aircraft over populated areas, then it needs changing. Why didn't he turn around immediately and land back on the carrier? Why didn't he divert to North Island on one engine, if he didn't sense imminent failure of the other? Was this fuel related? I for one will be looking close for the true answers. God Bless America, Semper Fi.

  34. Ari
    Paris Hilton

    Military aircraft

    Mr Yoon seems like an unbelievable man.

    re: those planes, iirc the F/A18 has artificial stability augmentation and it (like most other combat aircraft) is fly-by-wire, that is the controls are connected to computers which then move hydraulic pistons which move the control surfaces. Loss of the second engine means badness.

    Also, coming in higher (at a steeper approach angle) probably wouldn't do much because those things don't glide well (the wings are optimized for agility and ability to get to very high angles of attack instead of being optimized for long range cruise) and need very high speeds to maintain. So, with a very low aspect ratio wing as well as the aircraft weighing around 11000kg when completely empty you have a good recipe for problems.

    As for the double engine failure a common reason for that thing is maintenance of some sorts. One incident I remember a light twin aircraft had just had both engines overhauled(reconditioned) by the factory and had an engine failure just a few weeks later. He (my friend was flying, my day off) got in on one engine, the engine was checked, turned out one little rubber gasket was defective. That meant the other engine had to be inspected and lo and behold, the same gasket in that engine had almost disintegrated.

    Those kinds of problems, mechanic error or foreign object ingestion are the most likely twin engine failures. Couple that with the fact that those military engines are run at quite high power settings and need service often and the likelyhood multiplies.

    So, to boil it down. Twin engined airliners are surprisingly (even amazingly) safe but twin engined fighters have a far worse mechanical failure record, due to many normal and understandable reasons.

    The pilot probably did his best, they usually don't give up easy and are pretty well trained. Of course they do goof off, you are talking about people selected for their courage and borderline insanity, but this sounds like he was legitimately coming in on one engine, in which case you don't mess around.

    Paris 'cause she doesn't know where to go down either...

  35. Armus Squelprom
    Thumb Up

    Kudos to Mr Yoon

    A non-whiny Septic who doesn't reach for the nearest lawyer at a time of tragedy. We knew there were some of them left, and they represent the best of America. To reciprocate, the Marine Corps should now estimate his financial losses and give him a cheque for twice that amount tomorrow, no lawyers and no signed undertakings or constraints.

  36. Andy Bright

    Greed mostly

    The responsibility for the tragedy goes mostly to those that decided to put personal benefit above common sense.

    There are countless examples of this, where houses, schools and business parks are built in the direct path of a major airport, either military or civilian. The pilot is simply doing as he's been instructed, and flown to the nearest airport. Not really his fault some dickhead decided to build schools and homes around it.

    And the loss of one engine in a twin engine fighter is not likely to cause much alarm, you go home, land and ask the lads on the ground to fix it. As others have said, jet engines are usually pretty reliable if properly maintained, but it does happen and pilots are trained to expect it and deal with it, without panic and unnecessary loss of planes or lives.

    He certainly wouldn't expect the second engine to fail, and certainly wouldn't have risked serious injury or death by ejecting unnecessarily over water. The military are not particularly forgiving if you have a habit of ditching expensive planes in circumstances that normally don't warrant it.

    So he got the one in a million bad luck chance of second engine failure, and at this point as others have also said, he's now flying a brick. High up or low down makes hardly any difference at all. Maybe it would have missed that house, maybe not. More likely it would have hit another or even that school, and certainly wouldn't have got much further.

    Besides he was on approach to land, and that means he's now going too slow to adjust his altitude or change course because he has no power. He does the only thing he can, which was to save his own life. Not much consolation to the admirable Mr Yoon if the pilot dies along with the guy's family, which was the only possible outcome should the pilot have made a foolhardy attempt to steer a plummeting brick away from a residential area.

    One thing I can guarantee is that no change will come to the policy of allowing property developers to build in dangerous and stupid places. This will be ignored and glossed over, with the pilot the obvious choice of scapegoat, or perhaps the maintenance crew.

    Wouldn't surprise me if more than a few politicians start asking for a full 'investigation' too, with their own suggestions as to what (ie who) this investigation should concentrate on. You've got all kinds of choices ranging from Air Traffic Control to superior officers if the pilot becomes off-limits. The last thing they need is attention drawn to how Municipalities and States decide which parcels of land around airports go to which developers and for what purposes, so don't be surprised if all kinds of whacky and illegal suggestions try to deflect away from that - such as why not land a fully armed and faltering jet fighter at an international airport.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Too soon

    The guy is in shock over the loss of his family.

    One thing I have noticed is that people go through stages of grief, & later on he will go through anger, sense of loss and want explanations. Add in a few lawyers who might talk to him about how much the military might be prepared to compensate him, and in a few months he might not feel so forgiving.

  38. Meph

    @Ari - I concur

    I believe I've heard similar, that when you loose both turbines in an F/A-18, you loose the computers. I've been told that there is a redundant system that allows for limited control surface input, but its not really capable of keeping the aircraft in the air.

  39. Dude
    Thumb Down

    Not the Great Santini

    Golfinjarhead is right: They apparently don't make Marine fighter pilots like Bull Meecham anymore. Pity the poor bastards living around Miramar.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    Old story

    There is an old aviation saying about twin engined aircraft when one engine fails, the second engine just gets you to the crash site quicker...

  41. Mark

    Scratch n sniff

    The odour's so strong you can almost taste the "armchair military expert and REAL patriot" grade testosterone on this comments page. Makes you real proud to be anything other than A Merkin.

    Mines the one with "The Impetious Imperialist" in the pocket

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Tim Spence

    Top Gun was just a MOOOOVIE, a MOOOOVIE. Is one of your 'friends' high up in the church of Scientology perchance?.


  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In actuality...


    Let's forget Mr Yoon for a minute or two. I'm an engineer; one engine failure on these type of jet followed by another shortly after are almost unheard of - the chances are extremely low during normal operation.

    There is a relatively high chance this pilot has been messing about - data is available on the onboard backup computer, a secondary 'black box' in some manner, which will detail the manoeuvres made.

    I am sorry to say that for acute IT-related readers that the responses here regarding the pilot are mostly lacklustre. Sounds like this fellow will get away with this if any form of cover-up is permitted. Everybody, without exception, is sorry for the family culled as a result of this.

    Lest we forget the pilot and his actions - it is written in this comment section as if this chap had two engines fail for no apparent reason during normal training, the second lost during an attempt to get to the closest airport. Smells odd, things rarely fail like that on these highly maintained pieces of technology - open your eyes folks.

    (RE: I was rather disgusted at the moronic poster who stated "serves these f**kwits right for building houses to close to an airport; the sign of a dire human being indeed.)

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Jet planes make really bad gliders. Especially fighters which are by nature unstable.

  45. Dalen

    On one hand....

    ... a tragic incident and all.

    On the other... the pilot is a jarhead. To illustrate, the definitions for a good landing for different branches of service:.

    Air Force: Any landing is a good landing if you can take off after a re-arm and re-fuel.

    NAVY: ...if you can take off after minor repairs.

    Army: ...if you can walk away from the landing site.

    Marines: ...if all the pieces end up in roughly the same area.

    Mine is the USSR Air Force Lt.Col. one from my grandpa's closet.

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