Cold Cat Ejection is when the aircraft is going off the deck with less than the expected speed. If the catapult is not properly warmed up, it may not provide the pressure necessary to get the weight off the deck at the proper speed. The result is less than normal fly-away speed.
EA-6B Prowler BuNo. 158651/’AB-607′ of VAQ-135, based on board the USS AMERICA. (CVA-66). Crashed and destroyed July 10 1984 due to a failed catapult launch off the carrier, which was on station at “Gonzo Station”, an area of the Northern Arabian Sea, off the coast of Yemen. According to the following eyewitness account:
“…The plane was nose down going over the deck and ejection was initiated just as the Prowler cleared the deck edge. All aircrew left the plane cleanly and achieved seat man separation, but ECMO 3’s seat, after separating from the aircrew, hit DeBartolomeo in the air. I was an ECMO in VAQ-135 at the time…”
Of the four crew all four ejected, but Lt (JG) Michael J. DeBartolomeo (pilot) died of injuries sustained. The other crew crew – who all ejected and survived were Lt Commander Ken L. Blanford (ECMO 1 seat), Lt D. W. Yip and Lt (JG) Gene E. P. Sullivan (ECMO-3 seat)
EA-6B Prowler BuNo. 161778 of VAQ-133 “Wizards” (part of CVW‑9) on board the USS Enterprise (CVAN-65). Lost on July 14 1986 after a catapult launch, following “control malfunction”. Per one eyewitness: “I was on the flight deck that day as part of VA-95. The aircraft was lost due to a cold cat shot on cat 3 (waist catapult) in the Indian Ocean. The aircraft Commander landed on the flight deck after ejecting”. According to the following eyewitness testimony from one of the crew involved:
“This was an ICAP II EA-6B in CVW-11 off USS ENTERPRISE (CVN-65) lost in the central Indian Ocean en route to Australia at the end of CCDG-3 WESTPAC-Indian Ocean-Mediterranean deployment where we conducted post-Libyan strike missions along the Khadafy “Line-of-death”.
This was a suspected stab disconnect down the catapult track and the aircraft pitched full-up after launch. You have the crew correct, we all ejected, but I was the first out, low from ECMO-3 and was blown back and hit the flight deck sustaining multiple injuries.
The rest of the crew went in the water off the starboard side of the ship and were recovered. The only reason we made it out of that airplane was the quick reflex action of Lt Rob King who is a superb pilot.
After the first ejection everybody wanted to fly with me, but after the second, no one wanted to! – Captain Jim Bob Powell, US Navy”
All four crew – Lt Commander J. R. Powell, Lt. R. E. King, Lt (JG) R. D. Sandlin and Lt (JG) D. J. Shea – ejected safely. As noted above, Bob Powell was the ONLY one to land on deck – all others flew within days of the ejection, and he (Powell) was seriously injured hitting a turning A-6 on the bow of the Enterprise as he landed.