Mk-58 Went Down During A Landing Attempt
Thomas "TC" Bennett, ATAC Hawker Hunter pilot and retired Naval Aviator, was fatally injured Friday afternoon when his Mk-58 Hawker Hunter (similar aircraft pictured in file photo) went down near Naval Base Ventura County, CA while attempting to land. He was 57. Investigators from the NTSB, FAA, and the US Navy are currently investigating the cause of the accident. "We are committed to ensuring we investigate and understand the cause of this mishap to prevent further incidents, but will first focus all our efforts on the family and their well-being," said ATAC CEO Jeff Parker.
TC was originally from East Liverpool, Ohio joining the Navy in June of 1976, flying tactical jet aircraft for 27 years ultimately retiring at the rank of Captain. CAPT Bennett's last duty as Carrier Air Wing Commander 11 was leading the first strike into Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
TC Bennett was the Executive Officer of the USS KITTY HAWK aircraft carrier, served as Deputy Inspector General at the US Space Command and commanded a carrier based EA-6B Prowler squadron. CAPT Bennett completed 52 combat missions during his career and had 1385 successful carrier arrested landings. Awarded two Legion of Merit medals, the Bronze Star, three Navy Strike Flight Air Medals, two Defense Meritorious Service Medals, two Meritorious Service Medals, a Navy Commendation Medal with Combat V, two Navy Achievement Medals, and various other awards and Campaign medals. TC Bennett was qualified in the F/A-18 Hornet, A-6 Intruder, EA-6B Prowler, S-3 Viking, E-2 Hawkeye, and the SH-60B Seahawk helicopter.
"No words can express the utter and complete shock the company is in, losing two pilots in less than 100 days in completely un-related accidents, in different aircraft, in different weather conditions and in different locations," Parker said. "ATAC would like to thank all who have expressed their condolences on the loss of this great American."
ATAC just finished flying over 200 hours in support of the Eisenhower Aircraft Carrier Battlegroup, over 150 hours in support of two major exercises in Guam and the PI, and was conducting training for the USMC at Yuma, AZ and Navy fighter squadrons off the coast of CA this week. The accident happened on a fighter training mission for the military.
"ATAC will spare no effort to find out with absolute certainty what happened in working with the NTSB. And we will in our usual style share that with the DOD," said Parker.