An unusual accident at the Alameda Naval Station Tuesday seriously damaged a newly restored jet that has been on display for over 40 years when the crane lifting the aircraft toppled over.
The A-4 Skyhawk jet greeted visitors to the Alameda Naval Station from 1969 until it was removed from its display stand for the recent restoration work.
The 42-ton crane was lifting the 5,500-pound aircraft back onto its pylon Tuesday afternoon when suddenly the crane tilted and crashed, dropping the plane to the ground.
“I didn’t know what to think at the time,” said Allen Miller, a volunteer at the Naval Station. “I just said ‘I hope no one was under that thing when it fell.'”
Those surveying the aftermath think soggy ground wet by the sprinkler system might have been the problem, softening the earth underneath the crane and destabilizing it, causing it to sink on one side before toppling over.
Another crane was called in to clear the mess and take the plane back to the hangar.
The crash broke the plane’s cockpit, the tail and clipped one wing.
One Alameda city official called the sight heartbreaking because volunteers had spent two years restoring the aircraft.
“The airplane itself was built in 1957. It is the first version of the type,” said Mark Baird, the restoration lead on the project.
For Baird and other volunteers, the work over the past two year was a labor of love. The city of Alameda invested some $50,000 to restore the aircraft.
The contractor NRC Environmental Services would not comment on the incident.
“It’s disappointing,” said Baird. “It’s a setback.”
The team was hoping to have the plane up in time for the 4th of July, but Baird said it could take another year or two to restore the jet.
Anyone who wants to donate funds or volunteer to work on the project can contact the Alameda city manager’s office.
Category: Accident Report