EA-6B Gondola Mishap
Cavalese, Italy
February 3, 1998

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AvSafe worked with the defense team for Captain Richard Ashby, USMC and Captain Joseph Schweitzer, USMC in an effort to reconstruct the mishap which occurred on February 3, 1998 in Cavalese, Italy. Our role as the reconstructionist is to gather all the facts related to the mishap in an effort to find the cause or causes. In doing so we visited the mishap site, interviewed witnesses, examined the mishap aircraft, reviewed mission recorder information, along with countless other tasks. We also identified other experts in essential fields and coordinated the efforts of the expert team. The resultant verdict was in favor of the defense.


"TPC" or Tactical Pilotage Charts as depicted in the adjacent photo are used by aircrew throughout the world both for navigation, terrain and obstacle avoidance. These DOD supplied charts are produced by NIMA (National Imaging and Mapping Agency) with source information provided by the various countries-- such as Italy, in this case. Even though information pertaining to the gondola was supplied to NIMA by the Italian government, the gondola was never depicted on the TPC chart used by the aircrew. In spite of the notable absence of any aerial cable marking, the Marine Corps insisted on stating the cable was marked on the chart. You can see for yourself that it clearly is not marked.


The EA-6B Prowler struck the gondola support cable (2 inch diameter) and haulage cable (1 inch diameter)with its right wing at the wing fold. Post flight investigation revealed a strike of approximately 40-50 degrees relative to the cable. Damage to the Prowler was severe with both cables cutting the wing to the spar. Also damaged were the ALQ99 jammer pod carried on wing station five and the "football" or antenna fairing on top of the vertical stabilator.