The Marine All-Weather Squadron was successfully located by the US Navy with the help of Texas EquuSearch volunteers and the FAA. This was a multiple agency/private assistance effort that saved taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

MCAS BEAUFORT, (March 10, 2010) – A dual-seat Marine F/A-18D Hornet attached to Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224, impacted the ocean approximately 35 miles off of the South Carolina coast at approximately 5:17 p.m. Wednesday. The Marine pilot, Maj. Duane Liptak, 35 and his 29 year-old Weapons Systems Officer, Capt. Jonathan Hutchison, ejected safely and were recovered thanks to a quick response by a Coast Guard search and rescue unit out of Charleston.

The pilot and WSO were forced to eject following an aircraft malfunction during the flight home after performing routine training over the ocean. The Deployable Flight Incident Recording System was recovered by the Coast Guard this morning. It ejects from the aircraft whenever the ejection seats punch out. “Ejecting from a jet can be dangerous if not fatal. It is not uncommon to break limbs,” said Lt. Col. Joseph Maybach, the commanding officer for VMFA(AW)-224. “The air crew had the presence of mind to slow down the aircraft and prepare for ejection when they knew they weren’t going to make it back.”

Both aviators were evaluated by medical personnel and are currently home spending time with their families. An internal investigation will be conducted to determine the specific cause of the mishap. “The egress systems in the aircraft and the survival systems in the ocean worked perfectly,” said Maybach. “The brave efforts of Coast Guard responding immediately to the search and rescue were the big factors in getting the air crew recovered quickly.”

March 23, 2010

We found the wreck site today. Coord are 32 16' .8406N/079 43' .6899W. Site appears to be 45 feet by 45 feet and all small pieces. We found the wreck mid-day and did a night dive on it to verify. Dive was brief and just as a verification dive. Plan is to dive the next few days and have it recovered before Friday.

I am extremely grateful for your assistance. Thanks for all the guidance and the training. Certainly have enjoyed working with Baird USA and the FAA and I look forward to working with you in the future. I have passed your info on to my head shed (leadership) so they understand the quality service you have provided. I will be sending a mosaic and SONAR picture of the wreck site in a later e-mail.

US Navy