10th anniversary of 'Good Friday Miracle' jet crash in Virginia Beach

Posted at 10:17 AM, Apr 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-06 18:22:17-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Wednesday marks the ten-year anniversary of the jet crash that became known as the ‘Good Friday Miracle’ because no one was killed or seriously injured.

READ: 7th anniversary of the Virginia Beach ‘Good Friday Miracle’ jet crash

On April 6, 2012, Good Friday, an F/A 18D Navy jet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 at Naval Air Station Oceana crashed into the Mayfair Mews Apartments on Birdneck Road.

Remarkably, the pilots of the 40,000-pound jet and the people on the ground were all able to escape without any serious injuries.

Former Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms sees images like about the crash on his desk and in his mind.

“No lives lost. It's a miracle,” Sessoms said. “I was sitting in my office which is the end of the interstate. We’re seeing black smoke from the windows in my office, and we knew something bad had happened."

Retired Navy Captain Bob Geis was just named Commanding Officer of Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana, when on Good Friday, the jet took off around noon from the station for a training flight.

“It was a fairly new Naval aviator that had already gone through flight school, and an instructor in the backseat was a seasoned Naval aviator,” Geis told News 3.

Geis said a couple of independent mechanical failures of each of the engines made the jet not flyable.

“That pilot performed pretty miraculously,” Geis said.

The pilots ejected moments before the plane crashed into the Mayfair Mews Apartments. Miraculously no one, including the pilots, were killed or seriously injured.

“It’s called the ‘Good Friday Miracle’ for a reason,” Geis said. “I think, really, divine intervention.”

READ: Good Friday Miracle Jet Crash: Four years later

According to Geis, at least 29 apartments were destroyed. Dozens were without a home for more than a month.

Both he and Sessoms credit teamwork between the city, Navy and first responders.

“The citizens of Virginia Beach, carrying fire hoses. helping the fire department get the hoses where they need to be, it was just unbelievable,” Sessoms said. “Bob Geis stepped right up and said, ‘This is not going to be a bureaucratic procedure. We will get you a place to stay. We will get you clothes, and we will deal with it immediately.”

“There were Virginia Beach firefighters that went into buildings basically condemned to try and get an heirloom for residents that lost just about everything,” Geis added.

While the Mayfair Mews units are gone, what remain are takeaways from the "Good Friday Miracle."

“It’s the relationships that you absolutely have to have,” Geis said. “When something bad happens, that can’t be the first time you know your city manager’s name. You’ve got to have that relationship built in advance.”

"Our emergency response collaboration continues to strengthen every year as part of our ongoing partnership with NAS Oceana," Virginia Beach Director of Emergency Management Danielle Progen said in a statement to News 3. "We are grateful for the military and City first responders who work hard every day to ensure the safety of our city and our residents."

As for the pilots, Geis said they only had minor injuries from the crash. Geis doesn’t know their status today but told News 3 they got back in the cockpit to continue flying shortly afterwards.

Watch News 3 at 6:00 p.m. for complete coverage of the 10-year anniversary of the jet crash.