A-6 Intruder engines really suck

On Feb. 20, 1991 during Operation Desert Storm, John Bridget was sucked into an A-6E’s engine while preparing the jet for take-off:

Here’s some info I found on the incident at Amazing Videos:

Commentary from Daniel Streckfuss: “Regarding the video “Sucked into an Engine”, on your website, you write that you are uncertain about the authenticity of the video. I can attest that it is true as I was on the ship when it happened.”

“What you see in the video is a trainee checking the position of the launch bar in the shuttle and then moving away from the aircraft. The guy that gets sucked in his trainer and goes in to double check the launch bar position. He made a mistake by walking straight toward the nose gear which put him in front of the intake. He should have gone behind the intake and looked forward into the shuttle. All of this is happening with the engines at full throttle, by the way.”

“I was attached to VFA-15 onboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt during that deployment in 1991. This occurred just after Desert Storm. He did survive and I’m surprised the editors of that video didn’t include him climbing out. What allowed him to survive was the design of the A-6 engine (the J-52). It has a long protruding ‘bullet’ or cone that extends in front of the first stage fans. When he was sucked in, his arm extended above his head which caused his body to wedge between the bullet and inside wall of the intake. Lucky for him, his cranial and float coat were sucked in first causing the FOD’d engine which prompted the pilot to cut the throttle (commanded by the Shooter who moves into the frame kneeling and moving his wand up and down). It took almost 3 minutes for him to push his way out of the intake after being sucked in. Needless to say, I don’t think he was seen on the flight deck for the rest of the cruise.”

I’m not sure if this was “during” or “just after” Desert Storm. The fact that the entry in the Accident List here includes a date makes me think it’s accurate.


  1. Murdoc, I checked onto that carrier (TEDDY ROSSEVELT) a year or so after that incident for a month of catapult officer quals. We had always, from day one, been warned/cautioned/scared to death of those A-6 intakes because of their power and their low-slung profile. That particular incident happened early in the morning hours on an absolutely pitch black night. Up on the flight deck, nobody could see squat, partially because all this happened on the side of the aircraft away from a view from the island. Everyone who was watching inside the ship on the television system had the benefit of the low-light cameras and were able to see everything that happened. On the longer version of this (which I have on video) you cna see this is why when Bridget climbed out of the intake, nobody noticed him for a few seconds. You can see the reaction of the petty officer who finally noticed him and how he (top-side petty officer) becomes frantic, calling on his flight deck radio and motioning for assistance. Up till then, everyone thought it was just a catastrophic engine failure – which it was, but they thought it was for reasons other than the injestion of a a flight-deck final-checker. As catapult officer, two things were *always* front and center in my mind – those damn E-2 props and the A-6 intake. Pinch

  2. My cousin flew the A-7 for the lion’s share of his 20 year Navy career. That aircraft also had a fierce reputation, and I’ve heard it referred to a few times as ‘The Maneater’ due to the size and placement of its intake cowling.