The Darwin Awards

2017 Darwin Awards

Next Prev Random Honoring Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool--by removing themselves from it in the most spectacular way possible.

Flat Hatting Pilots
2017 Darwin Award Winner
Confirmed True by Darwin

(1 October 2017, United States) Flying home from a week-long Naval event that included Low Altitude Awareness Training, two experienced military pilots traded off at the controls while "flat hatting" -- flying at low altitude and high speed across the terrain. At staggering speeds the men swooped as low as 210 feet, swapping control back and forth as they flipped the bird to the 500-foot clearance regulation.

The instructing pilot, Lt. Ruth, 31, was hellbent on teaching his advanced flight student Lt. Burch, 25, the old maxim, "There are old pilots and there are bold pilots..." At T-minus 35 seconds, Ruth deviated from the flight path and commenced a descending turn to demonstrate terrain-following techniques. He then returned the aircraft to Burch and instructed him to make a hard right turn.

But the plane was too slow and too low. In response to the irregular maneuvers the T-45C Goshawk training aircraft stalled above the rising terrain. Too low. Too slow. Too late. Unable to eject safely, both lieutenants earn entry into the Double Darwin Awards archives.

According to USNI Aviation News, "The Navy determined that aggressive and unsafe behaviors by an Instructor Pilot and Student Naval Aviator led to the T-45C Goshawk crash."

The pilots were steeped in an aggressive ONAV top-gun culture. Heeding the warning of the daredevils' deadly antics, "The naval aviation training community took the crash investigation process as an opportunity to rededicate itself to the culture of safety and strict adherence to standards."


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Submitted by: John M. Wilson

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