After preflight and start, Lt. Pommer (pilot) and Lt. Loyola (B/N) taxied their Intruder to cat 1 for launch from USS Saratoga (CV 60). At the end of the stroke, the left fire light illuminated and the aircraft yawed. Lt. Pommer immediately raised the gear, jettisoned the external stores and isolated engine bleed air. He commenced a climb, secured the left engine and began the slow process of dumping fuel. (The A-6 loses one of its two dump pumps when single engine.) The fire light did not go out. Lt. Loyola declared an emergency and told the ship they needed to land as soon as the aircraft’s gross weight was within single-engine approach limits.

Lt. Bruce Pommer (left) Lt. Benito Loyola (right)

The crew continued their Case III climb through rain and turbulence, attempting to find VMC, with assistance from departure control. Weather was 400 overcast, one mile visibility in heavy rain. Passing 10,000 feet, still popeye, and 19 miles from the ship, they lost all communications. Lt. Loyola tried departure, tower, approach, strike and guard frequencies, but did not regain communications until they returned to within three miles of the ship, utilizing the TACAN. They leveled at 12,000 feet in solid IMC, which precluded a join-up for a visual check.

The A-6 was then vectored for final approach, Lt. Pommer’s first actual instrument CV approach. A Mode IIT was flown to one mile where they established Paddles contact. Windshield air was activated, but due to the heavy rain, Lt. Pommer remained clara until inside one-half mile.

The squadron tower rep recommended reenergizing the windshield air with the engine bleed air valve. Lt. Pommer flew the remainder of the approach to a pitching deck OK three wire.