On April 18, 1995, an F-14A narrowly avoided watery demise when it was caught by the exhaust from another F-14A preparing takeoff from Forrestal-class aircraft carrier USS Independence.

Jet blast deflectors prevent the jet exhaust from pushing/damaging other aircraft and personnel by sending it upwards. Nevertheless, unlike other JBDs of Forrestal-class, JBD of catapult No. 4 lacked active water cooling system and was only to be used with non-afterburning jets like A-7 since exhaust from jets equipped with afterburners was too hot to withstand without active cooling.

In case of Independence, catapult No. 4 wasn’t equipped with JBD at all since the catapult was near the edge of the deck and there was nothing much important between it and the sea, making a JBD seemingly unnecessary. However on that day someone decided to place a Tomcat on the patch behind the catapult No. 4, and this happened.

Fortunately both the pilot and NFO were safely rescued after bailing out, and the aircraft was also spared from plunging into the sea after it was stuck in the catwalk.


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