NAS PATUXENT RIVER, Maryland –
Gramps from Yesteryear: March-April 2002
During night operations, in an effort to take a break and rest while waiting for the arrival of an F/A- 18C to land and proceed to his “hot brake” check area prior to the refueling pits, a plane captain/hot brake checker laid down on the centerline of the taxiway and fell asleep. As the Hornet taxied to the hot brake check area the pilot’s attention was diverted from the taxiway because he was unable to see the illuminated taxi wands where the hot brake checker usually stands. His attention was on the hangar, the refueling pits and the sides of the taxiway looking for the hot brake checker.
As the aircraft drew nearer the hot refueling pits, the pilot eyed another aircraft which was refueling. He expected the hot brake checker would emerge from there. The pilot never saw the checker lying in the taxiway, even with his taxi light on.
The checker did not awaken until after the Hornet’s nose wheel hit him. He was subsequently pushed along by the wheel and although the wheel never actually rolled over him, the checker suffered severe trauma to his left knee causing permanent partial disability. He managed to pull himself free from the nose wheel but not until it had dragged him 31 feet.