tv CNN Newsroom CNN April 6, 2012 10:00am-12:00pm PDT
landing, where there are no homes or apartments. but this one again appeared -- it was emptying out fuel and it wasn't flying normal. the nose was up and the tail was down. >> did you see anybody in the plane when you saw it crash or saw anybody who actually ejected from the plane? >> they must have ejected before they got to this point. and again, it was coming in -- it was coming in low. we're used to low-flying jets over here because they fly constantly. and it's really not a big deal. this one i guess just because it was -- it was releasing so much fuel i knew something was wrong. >> was it on fire at the time you saw it or it was flying erratically and it was just releasing fuel? >> yeah, it was releasing fuel and, you know, i could still hear some sound coming from the jet. it sounded like the engine was straining or stressing. and it just kind of glided down. and i don't know that there
would have been a better place to hit or a worst place to hit. there's so many apartment complexes around here. >> can you describe more that area of where the plane crashed? >> yeah. it's -- we are maybe a half a mile from virginia beach ocean front. big resort area. lots of homes, lots of apartment complexes. and it's -- it's just a place that, you know, anywhere but here kind of thing. again, if it was a half a mile to the west, it could have been in a creek or a marshy area. and he would have had to have probably crossed at least one marshy area to get to this point. >> how did you know that this was unusual or different? you say that you have got low-flying airplaplanes in this all the time. how did you know this was something that was unusual and dangerous? >> well, i'll tell you, again, the way it was coming in, it
almost came in like it was trying to land with the nose facing up and there was nowhere for it to touch down. there was no flat ground in the direction he was heading. so no matter what, i just -- there's nowhere he could have touched down in a safe way anyway. but again, just the sound, the jet fuel pouring out and how low it was. >> when it first crashed, could you determine the response? did people respond quickly? were you able to see ambulances or police or firefighters? >> it was amazing, actually, how fast that they did get here. i mean, they were coming from every direction. i think they probably pulled in from other cities and other areas and literally within minutes, i mean, there was -- there were fire crews up in the towers spraying. there were people heading toward the scene. that was extremely impressive. >> were you able to see any people coming out of that apartment complex who talked about or any potential victims
that were running away from the crash? >> not at all. i mine, there were people there were people running out of the crash coming from the nearby buildings because when the initial impact happened, there was debris and pieces of the plane that were flying everywhere. and it was hitting other buildings. and i'm looking at the scene right now and there's damage to different parts of the buildings all around it. >> george, you say you're looking at the scene right now. where are you? >> i'm about maybe 200 yards from the scene across the street from the apartment complex. there are looks like four ladders up with six or firemen on top of the ladders spraying down into the crash site. >> describe for me what you're seeing around you. >> you know, lots of people that are stunned and again, there are numerous fire trucks, ambulan s ambulances, lots of police and i
think the concern right now is that everyone is trying to make sure that if there's anyone in there they can get them out of the surrounding apartments. can get them out and the fire guys which is amazing, which were that the flames were shooting up, probably 60 or 80 feet in the air and these guys were up on the ladders shooting straight down. it was amazing. >> is the fire contained? is that building still on fire now? >> it's smoking heavily, not nearly as much as it was for probably 15 minutes it was just a thick, black smoke. right now, it's smoking but not nearly as much. and again, they just keep adding more and more trucks, trying to put the thing out. and that it didn't -- that it didn't cause more damage to the surrounding apartments i think was definitely a blessing. >> can you actually see the f-18 from where you are? >> i cannot. initially i could. i was at the scene initially. i pulled out of the way, i
pulled my truck around the corner to allow for the fire trucks and everyone to get here. but there was a few pieces that were still intact, but for the most part it was just a big ball of flames. >> all right, i want you to hang with us, george. i want to bring back barbara starr to get some more information from some of the people that you're talking to there, barbara. what have we learned and i know it's a little after the top of the hour. can you summarize what we are learning about this navy f-18 crash near virginia beach? >> right, suzanne. this is a united states navy f-18 hornet. it is a "d" model. there are two people on board. we are told by the navy that they ejected but their condition is not known or not being said by the navy at this point. we are told they did eject. we do now see this considerable damage on the ground. just listening in to what your viewer was saying as we discussed, you know, military crews are trained to steer away from populated areas.
if they did not even have the time to do that and this crashed sadly into the apartment building and the residential area, it suggests the possibility of a very sudden failure of the aircraft. your viewer talking about seeing the plane putting out fuel into the air. we don't know if that was controlled dumping of fuel, if you will or perhaps the fuel line rupturing at this point. and we don't know as we see this very significant emergency response in this neighborhood in virginia beach, the status of any people, any civilians on the ground that were in their homes, in this apartment building. but we're seeing a very significant emergency response. the navy is going to want to get to the crash scene, look for any of the recorders on board, ged any indication it -- get any indication it can about what might have gone wrong here,
suzanne. >> barbara, where was this plane coming from again? can you kind of give us a sense of the lay of the land, where this neighborhood is in relation to where the plane might have been flying? >> you bet. it came out of oceania naval air station not far away. it is a training squadron there, so the assumption at this point clearly is it was on some sort of a training mission with two crew on board. they fly through this area very regularly. they fly flight paths that are very well understood of course by civilian aircraft in the region. and the navy has been down in this residential area of virginia beach for decades. operating both aircraft and their ships. u.s. air force is nearby. u.s. marine corps. this is an area of virginia in southern virginia along the coastline that is heavily populated by military installations, by military families. lots of deployments out of this
area. pilots having served overseas for the last ten years. so this is a community that is very well tied to the u.s. military. it's a real economic life line i would say for virginia beach. you also see a lot of retired military, a lot of veterans living in this community area in virginia beach. looks from everything we're seeing on our air, all of us right now as you see a bit of the wreckage there, populated area, residential, apartment buildings, some office buildings. this area of virginia beach, wooded areas, marshes as you get closer to the water, very sad business here. this is not something that we have often seen where military aircraft somehow is not under the control of the crew. something very significant happened here that led it to crash into an apartment building. i can't remember seeing this in several years. >> and barbara, just to be clear here, you say this is likely a
training exercise that this -- these training exercises are very common. would this have been a common route for training exercise to occur over this residential area or this is the result of something that's gone terribly wrong and they happened to be over this residential area? >> well, i don't know that we know the answer to that. with any clarity at the moment, suzanne. it's a really good question. certainly they have no choice but to fly over some residential areas. you're not going to be able to avoid them entirely. but you put your finger on it. in whatever went wrong here, did it take them in some uncontrolled fashion off their routine flight path that led them to crash into this apartment building? into this residential area, and clearly, this plane was operating at some top speed, if you will. because as your viewer said, it crashed, debris was flying everywhere. people at risk, debris damaging
nearby buildings. and we all know jet fuel burns very, very hot. very toxic in some cases. so this is something that they're going to want to get under control and we are seeing the emergency crews of course even as the flames are there trying to get into the area to see if that's any civilians that they can rescue. >> barbara, the eyewitness george, he had mentioned the fact that he saw very significant presence and very quickly a lot of people on the scene, emergency workers there. give us a sense of the kinds of groups, whether it's from the military or in the civilian side that are in that kind of neighborhood to respond to this type of thing. >> well, you know, i think in most populated areas in the country these days in the last ten years, many communities, many local communities have really beefed up their emergency response capabilities for a
variety of reasons and called into action because of this military accident. if the pilot though or the crew had a chance to make a mayday call to their military controllers, the military would have already been rolling out, trying to get people to the scene. if they had the chance to make that mayday call. we don't know at this point. there's plenty of fire, police, pararescue, to get people to hospitals, to trauma centers as fast as they can. and get them whatever medical care they can have. but also at this point, as you see these pictures of the wreckage, to get into these buildings, these homes that are so badly damaged and try and get people out of there, it's midday. a lot of people may be at work, but maybe not everybody. and we still have not yet learned this early on the number of citizens that may have been in their homes when this
happened. >> barbara, we're looking at incredible pictures here. we have aerial shots. we had some close-up pictures of what looked like wreckage, pieces of the plane there. i want to bring in my colleague chad myers to ask a few questions too who's also an expert in these areas. >> barbara, i don't know if you can see the picture there, but the f-18 flew in a double-seated f-18. the blue angels are flying this type of plane, the f-8 hornet. the one through six blue angels plane, all the single-seat seven plane is the trainer. so that's the only possible way that two crew would be in the airplane if it was the training aircraft, the model "d." otherwise there's a single seat. carries an awful lot of fuel. this is obviously what the pilot's worst nightmare is to allow it to go into the
populated area. if there was anything that the pilot could do to get it in the water, he would have done it. there's no possible way that that pilot wants to put that plane on to the surface, on to the deck when you take a look at all of those apartments around there. that pilot knew what that plane was getting into and had no other choice. this is a life and death situation and probably did it very late. he probably ejected very, very late, which means that's why we don't know what the condition of those two crew members are. they're probably very low when that ejection occurred. >> tell us what the significance is, chad, of the people describing this as the nose up of the plane and the fuel that was being dumped out. >> well, once the pilots eject, you lose all type of the lift because now all of a sudden the cockpit is gone. the cover and canopy is completely gone, so there's no control. the plane is flying itself. there's nothing for that plane to go. those planes have a very stick spring on the stick and so literally going left and right,
north and south is a hard maneuver. you have to use a lot of energy and a -- a lot of input to make it stick. it would be a clear and level flight. i would love to know if that really was fuel coming out of the back of the plane or was it just some type of smoke, some type of other debris or fluid coming out of the plane because that tells us an awful lot, whether that pilot actually lost fuel altogether and had no other choice. >> what would that mean if it was fuel that he was ejecting fuel, would -- that would be a much more serious situation? >> to me, it means a fuel line broke at one point in time and no fuel was going to the engine. we look at the planes all the time. they go very fast and the maneuverability is amazing. i pulled 6.7 gs on that airplane. you will do better than that. but this plane, when you're on the edge and you're literally at the edge of almost out of control all the time when you're in the combat maneuver, that's
where the guys -- this is what the training maneuver is. don't know whether the pilot was in front and the trainee was in the back or vice versa. something went wrong close to the ground. >> chad, stay with us. on the phone we have zach zapatero who i believe was on the ground and the person responsible for seeing some of the amazing pictures that we're seeing. zach, can you hear me? >> yes, i can. >> where are you now and how are you able to take these pictures? can you describe about what you saw? >> right now, i'm back at the racket club where i was playing tennis when i saw the huge plume of just black smoke coming off. so i dropped my racket, grabbed my phone and started running. as we came up on the scene, there's the large fireballs just coming up. there's ambulances coming in from everywhere. and i actually hopped a fence to go around on to the side of the building where there weren't very many people and through the smoke you could see the end of
the plane just sitting in a courtyard. so i started to take photos. and the buildings were starting to collapse. i did not see anyone running out and i was told that there's a bunch of senior citizens that live in those buildings which that worries me a lot. and it was just unbelievable. law enforcement was really quick to get on the scene. but the amount of jet fuel that you could just smell on the ground, it didn't seem right. and these planes are flying over the virginia beach area all the time. and it seems these past few months they have been getting more and more daring with their maneuvers. because i play tennis. it's only about a mile away and they're starting to fly lower over us, it seems like they're going faster speeds. it seems like they're pushing the planes a bit too far around the residential area. >> zach, how did you know there was something unusual and that,
you know, you hear these planes all the time. what did you hear? what made you want to run outside and realize that this was different? >> well, i saw this huge cloud of smoke come up and it was black smoke. and it came up really quick. and i was told -- you could hear just pops going off in the distance. and so i just ran. and when i get there, people are screaming. there's people sitting on the ground crying, hoping that loved ones are okay. it was a horrific sight. >> did you see anyone, zach, who was injured? did you -- when you say that the debris was flying and people were screaming. >> i did see a few people stumbling out going to ambulances. it looked as if they were going to be okay. but i'm sure there was plenty of people in there that did not make it, unfortunately. >> and you say they were stumbling out.
where were they stumbling out of? >> there's a few entrances where you can get in and out of the building from. they were coming out from where all the smoke was coming from. some were coming out from side doors, but it was only like three or four people. >> three or four people. and the building you're describing, you're talking about, is this the building you said that houses senior citizens? is that right? >> i was told by people that were watching that live there that there are a bunch of senior citizens that live there. >> when you saw people leaving that building you say it looked like they were injured. can you describe the kind of injuries, what the people looked like. >> some had cuts on them that were pleading. and a lot of people were just stumbling out and coughing. and it looked as if they were just -- they had inhaled a bunch of smoke, but it was not a good scene. >> when you were running you say, were you running with other people?
were there other people around you? was this a large crowd you were with? >> i would say i was one of the first on the scene. and then as like 10, 15 minutes went by, people were just all around the place. police started blocking off areas. i was told i had to go back to -- because i was no more than 20 feet when i took those pictures. >> what did you experience when you were so close to that plane? was it difficult to breathe? was it difficult to see? >> it was -- you could feel the heat from the fire coming off and it was pretty intense heat. but i didn't have any troubles breathing. but just the amount of smoke coming off did kind of sting your eyes. but that was about it. >> give us a sense of the area, what kind of -- how big is this area? when you looked at that plane and it crashed and you talk about the people running, is this a large area, or is it very small, contained? >> well, there are a lot of apartments in that area where
that plane crashed and the fire seemed to be spreading extremely fast because it's so windy out. i don't know if they're going to be able to contain it or not. it's just -- the area is -- where all the houses are, there's just tons of them. and they're right next to each other. >> when you were pushed away behind -- when the firefighters came, what was the thing you saw? >> the last thing i saw was just the building starting to -- you could see the bricks were starting to fall out from the building and you could just see that back of the plane just sitting in the courtyard when i left. >> was the fire out? >> the fire was not out. it did not even seem to be close to out when i left. >> and you say that you saw at least three or four people leaving the building that looked injured. did you see anyone? >> i did not see anyone else leave. >> well, zach, we'll get back to you. obviously you have taken some extraordinary pictures. you were very, very close to
that crash site. i want to bring in someone else, linda -- we'll take -- we're going to take a quick break before we bring in another eyewitness. again, a navy f-18 crashing into an apartment building in the virginia beach, virginia, area. we'll have more after a break. great shot. how did the nba become the hottest league on the planet? by building on the cisco intelligent network they're able to serve up live video, and instant replays, creating fans from berlin to beijing. what can we help you build? nice shot kid. the nba around the world built by the only company that could. cisco. but when she got asthma, all i could do was worry ! specialists, lots of doctors, lots of advice... and my hands were full. i couldn't sort through it all. with unitedhealthcare, it's different.
following the breaking news story, you're looking at pictures there, this is in the virginia beach area. this is where a u.s. navy f-18 hornet crashed into an apartment building and from several eyewitnesses they say that this is a building that was occupied and perhaps houses senior citizens, that there are some reports of people leaving that building with what looked like minor injuries. but we're still just getting information about this. you can see it is smoky now, but there was a fiery crash. a lot of flames, very hot. i just spoke with an eyewitness who was on the ground, who saw this all unfold just within the last 30 minutes or so. his name is zach zapatero.
i want to play a little bit of our conversation. i understand that he's actually -- we don't have that piece of sound from our conversation, but zach is on the phone with us still. zach, can you hear me? >> yeah, i'm on the phone here ready to help you out. >> if you would just describe for us and the viewers because you were one of the people who got very close right after this crash occurred what it was that you saw when you realized that this had happened. >> well, when i saw what was going on, i started running and there was just huge, black clouds up in the sky. i show up and there's a few fire trucks there, but not many. so far. and i ran around to the side of the building where it seemed you could get closer to the fire. and what i see out of the smoke is what looks like the back end of a fighter jet. so i tried to get as close and possible and there's just this fire coming off the back of this
jet and it's smoking and it seemed as if the fire is just going into the other buildings. >> this is an area that is described as being residential, that there are a lot of people. is it typical that there would be people on the ground, people in that building at this time? >> i believe there would be some people in the building at that time. schools around here are just getting off for easter break so i imagine there could be possibly people in the homes at this time. >> and zach, you told me specifically you did see people that were leaving that building where the plane crashed. can you describe for me how they seemed, what kind of condition they were in? >> people had some cuts on them. and there are a few people walking out coughing as if they had inhaled a lot of smoke. most of the injuries seemed to be pretty minor to my eye, but for the people that did not make it out, we have no idea. >> was there a sense of calm or
did it seem like it was more of a panicked scene there? >> it seem to be a pretty chaotic state. people were more -- fire trucks were pouring in. you had the planes in the sky just circling the crash site. >> what kind of plane, do you know? >> not a very calm site. >> do you know what kind of planes were hovering above? >> it looked like the military fighter planes were circling above. >> is it typical for these planes to fly over the neighborhood? >> oh, yes, these planes are flying over all the time. constantly. >> did you hear anything that was unusual? >> all i heard was a small pop off in the distance. it didn't seem to be much since i know these planes fly around here all the time and then i saw the smoke and i started running. >> zach, i want you to stay with us. i'm going to bring in my colleague, chad myers, who's an expert on these aviation matters. and from what we have learned
here, do we think that this was a normal route? i mean, it sounds like these are the kind of things that happen where they hear the planes, they fly low and they have the exercises, but clearly, to crash land in that residential area seems liked it would be a real act of desperation. >> completely. everybody that's flying that airplane realizes that you don't want to put that airplane down in a residential area no matter what. that's the last thing you need to do. and as the pilot was ejecting, and as it sounds like dumping fuel at the same time at a very low altitude, you don't want to dump fuel at 100 feet. it doesn't do much good, it helps to spread the fire. but the pilot was doing everything possible to keep that plane and keep everybody safe. look at the size of the burn area. all the buildings on fire, it's amazing. there must be six buildings on
fire here. this is part of the reason that dumping the fuel so low spreads the fuel around and some of the eyewitnesses were say that the smell of fuel was overwhelming. now all of a sudden you have all the vapors in the sky which are completely explosive. we saw the big black billow of smoke as the plane went down. the plane obviously the pilots ejected. i have been online while listening to you and listening to our reports that two parachutes were seen off the interstate, which is good. that means that they actually got to deploy the parachutes. if you try to eject at a very low altitude, sometimes that parachute won't open in time and that pilot will hit the ground at a high rate of speed. it doesn't sound like that happened. at least that showed the pilots down a decent speed to hit the ground. so that's great news for the pilots here. but i'm more worried right now about the people here on -- in these buildings and can they get these people out? we know that the air space -- why this is such an angular
picture is because the air space is closed above that. >> i want to go to the affiliate there interviewing an eyewitness. >> apologize for hitting the complex, i said, don't worry about it, let's get you out of here and get you to safety. >> were you able to move him without any issue? was he hurt otherwise? >> i checked him over. i'm retired rescue. he was in shock. still strapped to his seat. we just picked him up and we dragged him to the other side of the parking lot away from the fire. until rescue could get on the scene. >> there was a second person in that aircraft. did you see that second person come out? >> we did not see the second pilot or i didn't know exactly where the plane had crashed. bup -- but i knew we had gas lines in the building so we had to get him away from where we were. because i kept hearing second degree -- secondary explosions going off. i don't know if that was fuel, gas lines in the apartment or what.
but i knew we had to leave. >> when the pilot came down, he was still strapped in the ejection seat? >> still strapped in the seat. >> that's unusual, because they generally separate from those. >> he had something on his lower half of his body. something heavy. because he was heavy. >> you and some neighbors were able to get him out? >> we believe able to pick him up and drag him away from the flames until we could get more people and ems on the scene. >> can i get your name again? >> pat cavanaugh. >> can you spell cavanaugh? c-a-v-a-n-a-u-g-h. >> all volunteer squad here in virginia beach. we talked to the firefighters earlier they train as best they can for incidents like this. everybody can attest, you hope
nothing like this ever happens. those jets do carry that very oily, oily jet fuel which literally sticks to a lot of things. it is difficult -- thank you very much, mr. cavanaugh. it makes it very difficult to put out, frankly. they have to douse this until the flames go out. it looks like they're making a lot of headway here now. you see a lot of people here. the officers in green, those are virginia beach police officers. >> i want to go to barbara starr out of the pentagon. what do we know about the injured? i understand you have new information. >> yes, suzanne, we are hearing now from our sources down in virginia beach that two patients have been taken to the local hospital. one of them, one of the crew members. not clear if it's the actual crew member that gentleman was just talking about, pulling out of the wreckage scene. but one of them was one of the aviators. another one was a person injured on the ground. these are initial reports we're getting that at least two people had been taken to a hospital.
the navy says both crew members were able to eject, but certainly in a very difficult situation because you are still seeing the fire department pour water on this scene. this is really extraordinary. chad has talked about it. you and i have talked about it. for a military aircraft to crash into a civilian neighborhood, not to have the time to get itself out of the way, to even turn away the least little bit from the civilian neighborhood is extremely unusual. it's a real indication that something went wrong here at the last minute. and it went very wrong. that they were not able to control the aircraft in the least. because military pilots would rather do anything than crash into a civilian neighborhood where people live. i spoke to the navy again a few minutes ago. they are getting to the scene. there may be some military people there in fact.
they're coordinating with the virginia beach authorities because of course like any other aircraft crash, they're going to want to get to the wreckage, secure the wreckage and get their hands on the flight recorders to see what information they can pull off of them about what might have happened here. we don't know either if either of the crew members was able to make a mayday call before they ejected and whether they were able to report in the least detail what was happening to them and what caused of this. so the military now coordinating with local authorities very heavily on the ground as the response continues here and you see them still endeavoring to make sure they have rescued everyone they can. >> barbara, the volunteer firefighter, pat cavanaugh, he had just reported that he found one of the -- one of those pilots and he was still strapped in his seat. does that sound typical? >> well, to me at least very
initially if he was still strapped in his seat it suggests perhaps -- i am saying perhaps a low altitude ejection. ejecting from a fighter jet is in itself something that's extremely dangerous. basically, what you have is a rocket propelled charge under your seat. you pull the handle, that charge goes off and you're basically -- the cockpit falls away. the shield over the cockpit, and you are propelled into the air at a very high rate of speed. the seat should separate from you. your parachute should go off and you should have enough time to safely parachute to the ground. not entirely clear to me here what this gentleman saw, what the situation was. because if it was a low altitude ejection, that's even more dangerous. that rocket propelled charge would not be able to propel you high enough for you to have the time then to float down in your parachute.
so it's not entirely clear what situation the pilots were facing. perhaps they were hanging in there until the very last minute to try and get the plane away from this area. that's what i think many people are going to look at, at how that might have unfolded. >> barbara, just to be clear here, you have reports now -- your sources telling you there were two people taken to a local hospital. one would be the pilot and one was injured on the ground. >> right. we are told -- we are told by local hospital authorities that two patients were taken to local hospital. one was one of the aviators. one was a person from the ground and certainly we know that other virginia beach hospitals are prepared to take any casualties if they receive them. we are not getting word of that at this point. >> we're looking at some of these pictures, these aerials and they're really extraordinary
because you see at least six buildings that look like they had caught fire. looks like the fire has been extinguished for the most part, but one of the buildings looked like it was completely destroyed. is it a sense that it's too early to know if there are any other injuries or casualties here or are we talking about the very low numbers? >> you know, suzanne, i think it's going to depend on how many people were home this time of day. we've had some understanding that there were people in this apartment building and let me be very clear here. it still remains to be determined. this may have been an area of virginia beach where senior citizens had lived. it's spring break time, were there children around? i'm not alarming people, i'm simply saying we do not know yet who was around in the middle of the day when this happened. but -- so there's a couple of factors to look at.
was it simply hopefully that there were not a lot of people home during the day? or are we going to see ambulances carrying away injured people from virginia beach and trying to get them to hospitals? so far from the affiliate footage we're seeing, we're not seeing a lot of ambulances roll out of in. so that's one of the key things right now. hopefully there just weren't a lot of people at home. >> i understand or aftfiliate i interviewing the mayor of virginia beach. >> -- the big backups on 264, this is not the time to be driving on 264 in that area of virginia beach. >> what i would ask is people to stay away, stay as far away from this site as they can. they will not be -- any help getting there. please stay away from it. everything is going well there, but the more congestion makes it
tougher to get emergency vehicles in and out. so i ask that you please keep -- ask people to stay away from the scene. >> mayor, is there anything you want to pass along to the viewers? i know we did see this incredible show of teamwork and community involvement on the scene. where everyday people were helping firefighters move hoses. were you able to see that? >> let me say to you, you just heard me brag and out of all bad there's good. let me say our city crew, ems, fire, police, have done a superb job but let me say the people around there, the citizens of that neighborhood have stepped up and helped tremendously too. we're so blessed to have them all working together and all we can do right now is pray that once we get into these buildings that our situation will be minimal as far as injuries or deaths. >> at this time, do you know if
that's any sort of hotline number, anything the city is working on setting up for loved ones who may have people in this area? >> i don't have a hotline at this time. i will see about getting one established. but at this point i'm not aware of one. once we do i'll have somebody contact you to get that information out. >> we know it's a very busy time for you. thank you so much for joining us today. >> thank you. >> all right. the mayor talking about to a 55 police officers. that's just virginia beach city. we know that ladder trucks and fire crews have been sent in from norfolk to help as well. we have state police officers on the highway keeping folks off of 264. if you're just joining us again by now you may have heard the fa-18 jet had crashed into a virginia beach apartment complex about an hour and a half ago. this is birdneck road, near 24th.
a couple of blocks on the other side of the interstate from the virginia beach convention center. >> i want to leave the affiliate coverage. we have tim riley. the public information officer. what can you tell us about what happened? >> hello? mayor? >> can you hear us? >> yes. >> tim riley, it's suzanne malveaux with cnn. can you hear us? >> yes, ma'am. >> can you please tell us what know? >> okay, it was an fa-18 delta. two seat that's gone down. we have an apartment building damaged. two pilots that have ejected from the scene. they were transported to the local hospital. as of now, we have not had any confirmed injuries on the ground, but i do want to say
there's been significant damage to the five buildings and we have not been able to get to -- and we anticipate potential for injury or death there, but we have no -- we can't confirm anything. we haven't within through the whole complex yet. the good thing is, we haven't had any reported missing people. you know, this is a significant part of virginia beach and we have had two mishap trainings over the past two years and today it came to fruition. we have the military here and we have an enhanced system and we have -- we have trained and planned for events of this magnitude. >> and tim, i'm sorry, the audio is breaking up a little bit. it's hard to hear you so i'm going to ask you to repeat yourself on some of the points here. did you say that you anticipate that there could be injuries or
deaths that you learn about later in the day as you get to those buildings inside of those buildings that were hit? >> yeah. i don't want to put any history -- but we have buildings that are -- that are severely damaged. it's going to take -- it's going to take a while to get through there and do a detailed search. >> were those buildings occupied? do we know if those buildings were occupied? >> all the buildings were occupied and fortunately no one has reported anybody missing. that's a positive sign. we have to go through five buildings that are heavily damaged to do a detailed assessment, and search. as soon as the fire is under control. and the majority of the fire is knocked down now. >> okay. how do you know those buildings are occupied? are they generally -- there's a lot of people in the buildings this time of day? >> well, i don't know.
i don't know if they're occupied. they're inhabited, you know? we have been in touch with the rental office and, you know, every one of the apartment buildings has, you know, people living in them. whether they were at work or where they were, we don't know. we're going to assume that there's people missing. we'll go and do a detailed search. you know, of all the buildings so we can confirm that there's nobody in there. >> okay. we've been hearing that at least one of those buildings is where senior citizens live. can you describe for us these -- the buildings that were hit, that were on fire, that are smoking, what kind of buildings they are? are they residential? >> they're typical brick veneer apartment complex with eight apartments per building, and we have five buildings that were heavily damaged.
i mean, of course near the impact area, the damage was worse than the perimeter. and the perimeter buildings have been searched, but where the impact zone is we have not been able to get through that area yet. >> okay. battalion chief tim riley, thank you for your time. i'm sorry there's -- that the connection is a bit bad there in hearing you, but we do have the take away there, that some of the details, five buildings he said, heavily damaged and at least eight units inside each one of the buildings. it is not -- he's not quite certain how many people were inside the buildings. if that's potential once they get inside the buildings to see if there's people injured or even killed from that crash. we'll have more on this breaking news story after a brief break. all right, let's decide what to
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this crash. we know that two people were carried away from the scene. one of them being a pilot. one of them with an injury on the ground. just speaking to the spokesperson from the fire department saying they anticipate there could be more injuries and something much more serious on the ground as they're able to get into the buildings once they're able to see. one of the buildings we have been told is a residence where senior citizens were housed. one of the people who we talked to is zach zapatero. he's one of the first people to actually see that plane crash in the immediate aftermath. here's how he described what occurred. >> the plane -- when i saw a huge plume of just black smoke coming off. so i dropped my racket, ran over to my bag and started running. when which came up on the scene there's the large fireballs coming up. there's ambulances coming in
from anywhere. i actually hopped a fence to go around to the side of the building. where there weren't very many people. through the smoke, you could see the end of the plane just sitting in a courtyard. so i started taking so i just started taking photos. buildings were starting to collapse. i did not see anybody running out and i was told there was some senior citizens in that building which worried me a lot. it was unbelievable. law enforcement was really quick to get on the scene, but the amount of jet fuel that you could just smell on the ground, it didn't seem right, and these planes are flying over the virginia beach area all the time. and it seems these past few months, they're getting more and mother daring with their maneuvers. i live about a mile away,
they're starting to go lore and they're pushing these planes around a residential area. >> >> that was zack zapetero. there was a volunteer firefighter who actually found one of the pilots of the plane and tried to help him out to get him to safety. i want to play some sound some pat cavanaugh, who explains to one of our affiliates, how he hanged to find one of the pilots of the plane. >> i was in the apartment and i heard this three big, loud booms. so i got out from the couch and went out my backdoor, and when i looked out, i saw a pilot on the
ground, parachute hanging from the buildi, lacerations, so i ran outside to see what i could do to help him. i'm retired rescue. i didn't know the plane had hit the building until i saw a bunch of smoke. we had to get the neighbors out of the area and pick them up and get them to safety. >> what does it say to you the fact that this guy was still strapped in his seat when he fell to the ground. >> that means the pilot was only around 100 feet. he would have taken it to the water, water's not that far away, there was obviously nothing that this pilot could do to get this plane anywhere out of this residential area, it's
the last thing he wants to do, as a person who's protecting people, the last thing he wants to do is put the people he's fro texting in any danger. >> what does that say about the kind of damage that we're seeing from this crash? >> as either one of the reporters that's very sticky and moves around it. when it clings to the surface, it's going to burn for an awful long time. it's not gasoline, it's jet fuel, it's a completely different animal, it burns in a completely different way, it may be a little bit explosive, but it burns hot and heavy, you saw that big black plume of smoke. when there was fuel coming out, the plane was literally flying and the plane was nose up as it hit those buildings, so there
was no control of that aircraft, obviously, as soon as these pilots are gone, it's going down and there's nothing he could do. >> you mentioned the fact that the oil, it's burning, it could be in the air and stay in the air for a while and you could have an explosive situation, how long will that last, where you have the highly flammable areas in the air and still be a dangerous place to be. >> it's clearly over now. it's when that fuel was aerosolized, it literally was making a jet fuel fog as the plane hit the ground. >> i want to bring in a witness, this is keith gukowski, i
believe he has actually seen the ejection seat that the pilot has used, has a picture of it. keith, what can you tell us? >> yes, i was actually in the house, my wife had come out to just check to see what the weather was like outside. and when she walked outside of our condo, she heard the jet and then just saw it almost fall out of the sky. the previous one had said it did come down with its nose up and it was almost at an angle points towards us. >> and, keith, we are looking at pictures now of the ejected seat from the plane, that it landed in a tree outside of your home, is that correct? >> yes, the actual crash site is probably about 75 yards from where we are and to the ejection
seat came over, it hit one of the oak trees, and took a few branches off of that, and then it slammed into our fence at the condo. and it went through the fence into the home next door, which is a townhouse. >> keith, when you saw this ejection seat, was there a seat or was there a pilot or a passenger in that seat? >> no, no, thank god it's just a seat. the seat will detach from the pilot when he pulls the parachute. but there's two seats, there's one that crashed right over here, and then the house right next to us has the other seat in the backyard of their house. so what they have said about them ejecting very late, trying to hold on until the last end is
definitely true. both ejection seats are right here. and then the parachute is right by the crash site. >> the other ejection seat, you say, is close by and we know from another person they saw the pilot in the ejection seat. did you see that pilot? >> i did not see the pilot in the ejection seat. it looked like his -- one of the parachutes was over by -- right next to the crash site which is about 50 to 75 yards and the ejection seat is about 25 feet from our condo. >> and keith gutkowski, we're going to get back to you, and we are taking a quick break and then hand it to brook baldwin after the break. ♪
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into an apartment complex in the virginia beach area, and we have all kinds of pictures. we're going to walk you through this whole thing, but just imagine you have massive, massive plumes of smoke, flames, we have been talking about the flames, obviously they're saying, for the most part, the fire is getting out. but the issue is, when this fighter jet crashed, and you see the damages now, as that helicopter pilot is widening out the picture, how many people were home in this particular building? fire told us that there was five different buildings affected. they described one of these pilots, two of the pilots on board, both of them we're told did eject. one of the pilots did eject and landed in the wreckage. the man described this pilot in the wreckage, grabbed a couple
of neighbors, this crash happened about half an hour ago. one of the neighbors pulled the pilot out and they described him with cuts on his face and he was saying i'm so sorry i crashed into your building. both of the pilots have been take on the the hospital. and this jet at 12:30 eastern time. it was based out of the oceania/virginia beach air station. so far when you look at these pictures, so far no reports of loss of life. but again, in talking to a battalion chief, i have been watching a lot of local air out of virginia beach. and the issue is, as i mentioned, we're talking five apartment buildings so they have yet to get into all five of those apartment buildings, to make sure everyone is accounted for. we have got barbara starr working from the pentagon.
in fact, let me bring in chad myers, and chas as you have been working this the last hour, hour and a half. i'm curious the lay of the land. how far is this apartment complex from the water? because the last thing they want to do is crash into an apartment complex. >> there are fingers, there are little pieces of water that will eventually drain into the sound there. and you think about this area, this is virginia beach, this is norfolk, this is all the way up the chesapeake bay. the bridges going over the delmarva peninsula. they were less than a half a mile from a significant body of water to put the plane in if they had control. less than half an hour.
>> how far is this from oceania? >> i really don't know and these things. maybe this will help, there you go. it is right in a there's the beach off to the right. there's the beautiful new boardwalk there, there's probably a lot of spring breakers out there on virginia beach. >> and i'm thinking spring break too and i'm thinking, wow, kids possibly being in these apartment complexes. >> there's the vertical stablizers, that's where the foam is going right now. it's that little black spot that's sticking up, there's another one right next to it. the tail isn't just one tail. it's a two-tail system that
really makes this plane so ultramaneuverable. it's the same plane that the blue angels would fly. an f-18. i have flown that plane that is on the ground right there, maybe not that particular plane, but the f-18d who nit. i have flown that plane, obviously i was in the back seat, the pilot was in the front seat, he gave me the stick to fly. it was the most amazing experience of my lifetime. as i was working for a tv station and we were preparing for an air show, and the men who fly this plane, how physically, they are athletes, they are truly the best of the best. >> i want to bring in joanna hyatt. do you live in this apartment complex? tell me what you saw. >> we were stepping outside to go, just get out of town or get
into town and i saw a jet flying over so i pointed to one to show her. and i looked and i saw a pilot eject. i saw a parachute and next thing i know a big, dark plume of smoke coming up. there was no impact. it just seemed to be out of the blue. >> so you saw one pilot eject? you didn't see both. >> didn't see both, i just saw one. it was very low to the ground and i didn't catch a good glimpse of the plane either, i just saw a blur and it was right where the smoke was. it got larger and larger, i was with a couple of friends, we were wondering what had
happened. a friend of mine lives just around the corner from here. >> did you see a lot of fuel coming out of the plane? did you notice anything falling to the sky. >> i didn't see any. it was definitely low because it disappeared immediately behind my line of sight and trees off to in the distance. no, i guess i didn't see any direction. >> in terms of describing any kind of sound, any kind of blast or a boom, you heard nothing? >> well, initially, that's right, we heard nothing, and then when the smoke start, after about 15, 20, 30 seconds, the smoke started to rise faster, we heard an explosion, but not something you would attribute to a crash, just an explosion. we were curious, so we drove
back there and saw lots of black smoke, saw the apartment complex on fire from both ends. so it's definitely worth the price to see that it had spread so quickly. and we heard another explosion there and got nervous. i can tell you more if you want to know. >> if you're hearing multiple explosions and you're driving towards this, the mayor is urging people to stay away as they're trying to get these emergency vehicles in to find people that could be injured. as you approached, you heard multiple explosions. as you're looking at this, you don't even see a roof. >> at that point we were all commenting on how strange it was not to see any authorities. we didn't see any firefighters, no ambulances, fire engines. we saw people running towards buildings and a handful had come out to see what was going on.
when we heard another explosion, we backed the car away and decided we would leave. once we left, we decided we wanted to go back and see again. so we saw far more flames, lots more smoke, and at that point we saw ambulances at the main thoroughfare, fire engines on the way, so it didn't seem there had been a lot of people immediately after. >> it sounds like you were there immediately after this happened. if you've been listening and watching, it's been a tremendous presence. joanna highet, we appreciate you describe bhag you saw. and barbara starr, she is at the pentagon, let me just back up, as we're talking specifically, do we know how this plane crashed and do we know if this was a training exercise or not?
>> reporter: this by all accounts is a training exercise. what the pilots do is they train on land first before they go out to the aircraft carrier and train more about how to land on a carrier deck in the middle of the ocean. so they're going very short distances to learn how to do this. i have just gotten off the phone with a navy source in this area. and he said their initial understanding right now is that the crash happened shortly after takeoff from oceania. that might be very self-evident but it's going to be important because it may mean the plane did not achieve altitude before the crash. we have seen more navy flights in recent weeks, in and around
oceania oceani oceanian oceanian. there are military flights around oceania because there's people stationed there. but there's an interesting wrinkle here. there is an airfield south of town called fentress. this airfield has been shut down for quite some time for maintenance. this is where the navy typically went to practice, those touch and goes on land. those simulated carrier exercises. they were doing them at fentress and they were doing it at oceania. at this point, absolutely no indication that this is a safety issue, that it wasn't understood by anyone. that's why people in virginia beach are talking, we think, about seeing more navy aircraft
in the skies for the next several weeks. so that helps explain some of the context of the folks here. the military officials we are told are now on the ground at the crash scene, working very closely with authorities. they're going to want to secure that data reporter as fast as they can. >> do you know the status of these two pilots and perhaps the other individuals in the hospital? >> we have no more information on that. as you say, our sources down there are telling us, two people taken to a hochspital. one was one of the crewmembers and the other was someone on the ground. >> i do want to read a statement from governor bob mcdonald. quote, we are taking all possible steps at the state level to provide immediate resources and assistance to those impacted by the crash of an f-18 fighter jet in virginia
beach. in the past half hour i have smoken to virginia beach mayor will sessions and told him that we will provide resources to him as the community responds to this breaking situation. we are monitoring events carefully as they unfold and state police are monitoring this accident. there are pictures, we mentioned those two pilots on board. here we go. this is one picture of one of the pilots' seat. we mentioned they both ejected. this is one of the seats on the ground here, we have gotten the pictures from keith gutkowski. coming up after the break, we're going to speak with keith and also tara phillips. we'll be right back. okay, team! after age 40, we can start losing muscle --
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so all you notice is relief. aspercreme. the question is was anyone home? we had a fighter jet crash just about an hour ago. we have pictures of these pilots' seats. keith, i understand you were the one that took these pictures, of one of these ejection seats, two pilots on board, both of whom eje ejected. keith, tell me what we're looking at. >> my wife had come out just to
check on the weather, she came out and she was taking a look at the sky and the next thing you know a plane came down, an f-18 came down, she came running in to me. i came running out and saw the black smoke. the ejection seat had crashed into the fence about 50 feet from our house. >> 50 feet from your house? >> so how far, forgive me if you mentioned this, how far is your house from this apartment build ing. it's about 50 to 75 yards, it's very close. and she had -- she saw the flames, she saw the plane coming in, and like they had said before, the nose was up and that's why the pictures that they have are so intact because
it didn't go in headfirst, it was nose up. >> keith gutkowski, forgive me, but i'm going to interrupt you. please do stand by. i want to get some breaking news just in from these jet pilots. tell me about these pilots, how are they? >> i have flown in f-18s from this base. i know this area, these apartments, these homes, i've launched and i've flown right over them. i'll give you exactly what i'm getting from my source. some pretty heroic things on behalf of the pilots and i'll explain why. it looked like the plane cras d ed right under the -- five miles
northeast of oceania. it looks like they took off on run way 502. the pilots are okay, they ejected, they're at the hospital, nonlife-threatening injuries, i'm told, so they did what they're trained to do and got out of there. some people might be saying, why did they crash into an apartment building where people are? here's what it looks like, apparently they tried to head towards the ocean, which every fighter pilot knows this, that's what you try to do, if you know something's wrong with the aircraft and you're going down, that's the last thing you want to do is go into a residential area or an apartment building. it looks like he was trying to make to it the ocean, it says here. he was about a mile short of the
beach. and if you notice the wreckage, and i'm trying to see the pictures here, you can see that the tail is upward, which means it crashed flat. there you go, see how the wreckage is flat. what that tells me, that's what tells my sources that are there, as soon as you launch, more than likely he noticed something was wrong immediately because of how close the run way is to the site. he started losing air speed, he started losing altitude and he had to ride it into the ground. think of it, brook, you've just got seconds to make a decision. something's wrong, i'm losing air speed, i'm losing altitude, their first instinct is they've got to go through water training. you want to eject and go into an isolated area and hopefully the
only thing lost is a very expensive aircraft. >> and that shows they tried to make to it the beach. >> the altitude they were trying to attain, based on the close proximity of oceania and specifically this apartment complex. >> i have heard some talk and this always drives me crazy, maybe they were pulling stunts and doing maneuvers, it's impossible to do that, considering where that run way is and where they crashed. you don't have the speed, the altitude. it just -- that's not even the scenar scenario, so the fact that these guys were hot dogging, i wouldn't even go there now. possible things that might have gone wrong with that aircraft, they're looking at a number of things, you're looking at a lot of jet fuel, a lot of combustible stuff. >> it could endanger the
firefighters on the scene. >> a fuel leak, hydraulics. and the wreckage is flat, and they were going 250 miles an hour which is not that fast for a strike fighter. so they were probably, when nay realized something was wrong, you're not going too fast, you're trying to wrestle this aircraft and you're trying to wrestle it down into a safe place and keep it under control. so another indication that that's probably what happened because of the way this aircraft went down. does that make sense? >> it does help, thank you, kyra for your expertise. i want to bring in bruce adoka,
bruce, are you still at the scene? hi, bruce, this is brooke on tv. can you hear us? >> a little bit, i will work with you. >> i will clearly speak up as best as i can here. were you on the scene still? >> i was at the scene initially and now i'm at the 911 center. in terms of people in these buildings, five buildings as a result of this jet crash, do you know how many people were home if others were rushed to the hospital? >> yes, what we have is three people that have been transported to area hospitals. as far as others, they don't have any other injuries that are being transported. at this time, there was a tremendous amount of fire and a tremendous amount of smoke. we have crews on the scene,
triaging and assessing anybody who may indicate that they are in need of emergency medical services. if a transport is necessary at this time. we have a tremendous regional response, certainly virginia beach fire department, the department of emergency medical services and many, many of volunteers in virginia beach, certainly the police department in virginia beach, and should have some local cities around us as well as oceania naval fire is onscene. >> let me just jump in and ask, you mentioned three people taken to the hospital, am i correct to assume that two of those were the pilots and one other person? >> i think one was a pilot and the other two were not
individuals that were involved with the plane, they were on the ground. >> is there anything life threatening at this time? >> what i have understood that the pilot in the jet did an absolute tremendous job going over and, i guess when he realized he was in trouble, the fuel was being dumped. had that not been done, the impact and the subsequent fire damage with all that extra fuel would have been intense. if they had not done the dumping, the fire would be absolutely tremendous. >> bruce, i appreciate you, kbr bruce confirming to us, one of them ta
them, the pilots was take on the the hospital. and two other people that were on the ground. police and fire are triaging anybody who's on the ground. jobs, the highly anticipated jobs report, when you look at the numbers here, it's not terrible, it's not great either, president obama says he welcomes today's job reports. but do you think his labor secretary welcomes his numbers as well? we're going to talk to her, hilda solis after this quick break. all these years... years washington's been talking at us, but they never really listen... listen...it's not just some line item on a budget; it's what i'll have to live on... i live on branson street, and i have something to say... [ male announcer ] aarp is bringing the conversation on medicare and social security out from behind closed doors in washington. because you've earned a say.
you see all the water, the foam, the jet fuel. because of here you see it, the wreckage of the f/a-18d. >> they were 2.5 mime miles awm the ocean. they didn't want to crash there, they were headed to the ocean. >> three people in the hospital, one is the pilot, two others from the scene. we're going to get back to that in a moment. but i do want to talk jobs here, the push to get america back to work, the jobless rate has dropped again but not by much. the rate of unemployment inched downward to 8.2%. those 120,000 new jobs, that's half the number of jobs created the previous month.
so a one-month blip or perhaps something worse. here's president obama. >> it's clear to every american that there will be -- >> january, february, the economy is churning out jobs and then what happened? >> you look at this report, you see a lot of the jobs that were lost were actually in the retail sector. 34,000 jobs just gone. but then you look at it overall, this report is a reminder that fed chief bernanke was right. he said job growth has been strong, almost too strong that it may not be sustainable. and we're seeing that today. look at this, in december, in january, in february, we averaged about 250,000 job gains a month. that's barely enough to keep up
with the new people that are coming into the job market. so we're kind of treading water, we're not moving forward, we're not moving backward. so one month does not make a trend. we need another few months. >> why did the unemployment rate come down .50%. >> part of the reason is that people are finding jobs, but also the reason is that they got discouraged, they dropped out of the labor force and they weren't counted. but then you look at the outlook for unemployment overall, take a look at the past decade, unemployment was sitting at 5%, 6%. then you see it popped higher at 8.2% in 2009. we're slowly going down, but very, very slowly. and it begs the question, when are we going to get back to
normal? fed chairman ben bernanke has said that high unemployment is temporary, that he expects the unemployment rate to actually fall as the economy recovers, as business picks up, companies are going to hire. bernanke says this is going to happen around 2014, we're going to see 5% unemployment. the budget office has a more stark projection. they say that 5% won't come until 2021. >> that is long ways away. as i mentioned, the president welcoming this jobs report. how about the labor secretary, hilda solis. what's the biggest challenge here, we're going to talk to her live. this f-18 fighter jet, look at the smoke, it crashed about two
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and welcome back, i want to go back to the sudden jobs growth. i want you to look to the right, you're going to see three solid months of job creation, december through member 600,000 new jobs. we mentioned the number a moment ago, 120,000 new jobs, that is just half as many. can you just tell me, what happened last month? is it a blip or an omen. >> well, you know, every job report has its own story to tell and of course we know that we're still in a very hard position, because we have still a very
frail economy, the president has said that, i have said that, time and again. and in the last year, the last 25 months, we have created four million private sector jobs. think about it, when the president took office, we lost 8 million jobs. now we're halfway there and we're putting jobs back, but they're not happening as rapidly. that's why the president was saying, more investments in communication, more investments in community colleges, so we can get people saddled with the right jobs. >> a number of critics saying this job recovery isn't happening fast enough. this is a republican representative, nan haworth. >> the number should be higher, and in previous recovers, you know it has 300,000 even 500,000
jobs a month. so this has been the slowest recovery since the great depression. >> you heard the congresswoman, the number should be higher, she says. why aren't we seeing more vigorous job growth. 300,000 a month or more as she suggests. >> we lost a lot of manufacturing jobs and the economy since has contracted. we have more employees that are working, very productive, a lot of employees are working very hard. the advancements that the president has made has brought back 200,000 jobs when other people were saying, hey, let's give up on the job industry. those are good jobs and they created 2.5 million jobs because of the industry around building cars. we can innovate, we can create new sources of energy and produce them there and then sell
them abroad. that's why the president is so invested in bringing our jobs back here. and make sure those jobs are competitive so we can compete on the global market. >> because of this event with women and the white house today and you were taking to twitter and i just want to read one of your tweets today. we continue to fight for working mother and more flexible workplaces. with regard to the flexible workplaces, how can the president support flexible workplaces? >> the bottom line is in most cases when businesses do provide to flexible work hours and they are able to stay home when their children are sick, they actually get more production out of them.
evidence shows that those are good things to do so we're trying to incentivize, now you have fathers who are taking time off too to care for loved ones. it isn't just about one sex, it's about the whole family, providing a different situation to deal with the new dynamics of what's happening in the workplace and in our communities. everyone is helping to chip in. that's how the president sees this, that everyone plays a very important role. >> it's dads and moms and they want that flexibility in the workplace. secretary solis, you're the first latina to serve in a cabinet post. and i read about your husband, he's a small business owner, and we hear all the time about business owners, aka job creators complaining about all the job creations. do you have those discussions around the family breakfast table with your husband? >> we talk about everything and
of course we're always concerned about what's happening with our neighbors and how well they're doing. because that also helps to support our communities and our economies. we want to have people have education and training, that we have that network available, when people have a job that maybe isn't going anywhere, so we can promote. we want to -- everyone knows exactly where to go to find a job, how much it pays, how to prepare for it. and know that these jobs are -- >> including your husband's auto repair shop? >> everything. >> labor secretary hilda solis. thank you, ma'am. we're monitoring, getting all the information about the f-18 fighter jet crashing in virginia beach. wnbc interviewed a man in an ambulance. colby smith was in his apartment
when he heard this massive crash. he saw the chaos, ran outside and saw an injured pilot on the ground. >> my name is colby smith and what i saw is, i was in tbathro putting in my contacts and i felt the whole house shaking. i peeked around the corner and it's a crashing, a crackling noise. and i was like, what is that? i heard a lot of pop, pop, pop. i ran down the stairs five steps at a time. then i saw nothing but billowing black smoke. and then i went over to -- there was a pilot cut on his face. i saw my friend, we saw each other, we hugged each other. i wanted to use his phone to
call 911 but i didn't have a fine. this pilot was extremely heavy, he must have weighed 250 pounds with all these equipment. i still have blood on me which i hope to wash off. but i just stood there shaking. >> you were in shock for a while, how are you now? >> i was crying for a little bit. i'm really emotional still, but i'm feeling a lot better. >> and colby's just one voice, we have been hear since the plane crashed about 1 1/2 hours a ago. another person comes across another pilot still in his seat. >> i heard this big, loud boom. when i came out, i saw a pilot
on the ground, parachute hanging from the building, facial l lacerations, so i went outside and saw what i could do to help him. i'm retired rescue. i didn't know the plane had hit the building until i saw the smoke. then we had to get a bunch of neighbors together to get them out of the air and take him to safety. >> was he able to speak at all? >> he apologized very much for hitting our complex. and i told him, don't worry about it, everything's going to be fine, let's just get you out of here and get you to safety. >> was he hurt otherwise? >> like i said, i'm retire rescue, i did a mild survey on him. he was in shock, still strapped in his seat. so we picked him up and dragged him to the other side of the parking lot away from the fire until rescue could get on the scene. >> there was a second person in that aircraft, did you see the
second person come out? >> i did not see the second pilot or i did not know exactly where the plane had crashed. but i knew we had gas lines in the building, so we had to get him away from where we were. i kept hearing secondary explosions going off. >> when the pilot came down, he was still strapped to the ejection seat? >> that's unusual because they're usually not situated. you have something -- >> he had something across the lower half of his body that was heavy, extremely heavy. >> we were able to pick him up and drag him to the other side of my complex until we could get ems on the scene to strap him up and take him out.
>> he talked about that seat was still attached to the pilot. one more piece i want to play from one of our other affiliates? they spoke to a virginia beach mayor, talking about how their worst fears were realized. >> i pray every day that something happened. but it has. i will sit back and say to you that our police and ems and fire have done an outstanding job. i'm so proud of them as i hope all of our -- we have 65 ems out there, 65 police, they're doing a super job, the pilots, as you know, are okay. we have got to wait and see what happens when we get into these buildings and hopefully we'll be able to do that in the very near future. the navy is sending over some phone trucks which will get these toxic smoke knocked down quickly. and that will allow us to get
our people into a search. >> and just to reiterate, i talked to virginia beach ems and he told me there are three people in the hospital all with nonlife-threatening injuries. we're taking phone calls, we're working the story. we have kyra phillips who is very familiar with oceania, where this plane took off. >> we're going to go to break, be right back. top... a spare tire strapped to the front grill... and the seat was more of a small couch made of green pleather. it was hideous. it was loud. it was my mom and dad's way of forcing abstinence i'm sure. and it worked....sadly. [ male announcer ] animate and share your first car story at firstcarstory.com. courtesy of the 2012 subaru impreza. experience love that lasts. ♪ experience love that lasts.
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all right, we're staying on our breaking story here. you can see the aftermath here, this f-18 fighter jet crashed after leaving on takeoff, oceania and crashed into this apartment complex, you see the flames, this is from a little while ago, the flames, the smoke here, massive, quick response here from ems, fire, navy as well. but one question i have is about these two pilots. i want to bring in kyra phillips, she -- we know that these two pilots, there were two seats on board this fighter jet. two pilots on board, both of whom ejected. and we just heard one of the eyewitness accounts describing pulling one of these pilots out of the wreckage here, that pilot still in his seat. isn't it supposed to detach?
>> so here's what i can try to explain. that is, you know, basically the shell of the entire seat. when a pilot ejects, they are immediately separated from him upon his descent. so the guy wasn't strapped in, this is entirely different from where the pilot -- >> we're just showing this for the sake of showing a display. >> a lot of people are saying it the pilot. and a reel. you have a pilot in the front and the guy in the back seat is not considered a pilot, but a naval aviator. the pilot's shell of a seat. but see the lower part of the seat, brooke? >> how should i look at this? where's the back? the stop is the smaller part.
you have the seat pad still on. they were still attached to the seat pad. in that seat pad is all your emergency and survival equipment. radio, flares, you know, if you're in water, you have dye to let the rescue teams know where you are. >> this is in a matter of seconds, a pilot or a back seater. you've got seconds to determine do i push the button to eject? >> it's a little handle that's right in between your legs. think of it as kind of a rope.
kind of like if you -- it's kind of like a handle, that's the best way to describe it. it's right between your legs, when you know when you're going, you eject, eject, eject, that's what you hear on the radio. when you eject, the seats blast out, the parachute opens, and then it separates from the seat. and then you'll see the pilot and the parachutes end up in a different place than the seats. >> nothing was wrong, because it was attached to the pad and not this entire seat. that's what we wanted to know. thank you for clarifying here. we do actually have a former fighter pilot who is live. we're going to talk to him after this quick break, he's flown f-18s as well.
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all right, i want to take you back to this breaking story. you can see that the police, the fire is on the scene trying to put out these flames from this fighter jet that crashed into this apartment flex. this is about 2 1/2 miles from the oceania air station, where this fighter jet took off. again talking to ems, we know three people are in the hospital, nonlife-threatening injuries, one of those is one of the pilots from this particular
plane. i want to bring in max carey and chad myers is standing beside me as well. i know you're a f-18 pilot. you threw in -- you have seen the pictures here, just walk me through some of your initial thoughts. when you look at how the plane crashed, what's your first impression? >> there are two flight regimes that are unforgiving. one is takeoff and one is landing, pilots have time to make decisions and plan and sort of orchestrate what they're going to do, except on takeoff and landing. my first thought was first of all, thank god no one was killed. and those pilots went through a thought process that was programmed into them from the
day they started flight training. check this, check this, check this, that will all go through the pilot's head as fast as possible and make a life-or-death decision. in this case, after checking all that you are queues was after flying, they had to exit the airplane. ergo the -- >> where the plane came from was about 2 1/2 miles so it would not be flying this kind of at altitude. and how many seconds would they have had to make a decision to eject? >> you're right on, it's all about seconds and they were not high enough to have choices. and so they would have been scrutinizing the instrument panel, they have been looking at
their air speed, the navy pilots go angle their attack, which is the balance between speed and trajectory of climb, they would have checked the altitude they were at. if they had time, the lead pilot would have, as kyra said yelled eject three times and he would expect by the third eject the back seat would have been gone already. they would have been airborne less than a minute. maybe 20 or 30 seconds, accelerating quickly, trying to clean up the airplane, getting the landing gear up and something catastrophic happened. i don't know what the by sanders on the ground have said, it could have been an explosion, the airplane has after burners that could have ignited. you se