An F-16 pilot from Tyndall AFB was killed last Thursday morning when his jet crashed into the Gulf of Mexico.
The pilot was civilian Matthew LaCourse, a retired USAF Lieutenant Colonel and 1978 US Air Force Academy graduate. LaCourse was a part of the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron, which is the unit fielding the pilotless QF-16s as full-scale drones. He had previously topped 2,000 hours in the F-4/QF-4, which preceded the QF-16.
As with all mishaps, the Air Force will investigate and report on the incident.
LaCourse’s death serves as a regrettable reminder of the danger of the pilot profession.
The Air Force spent $30 million for 17,000 of the beacons in 2009, with deliveries finalized in 2010. Two years after the first beacons were installed, crash investigators began noticing that they had not worked in multiple crashes. In fact, the beacons failed 10 times in 22 ejections, according to a review of crash reports since the beacons were installed.
The situation is so serious that one unit in Italy made a point of flying with their personal cell phones.
The article notes the incident that may have caused the greatest injection of urgency was the loss of an F-16C over the Pacific in 2012: Continue reading →
In 2012, Lockheed Martin delivered the last F-22 off its assembly line, a mere 9 years after the first delivery of a production F-22 in 2003. The original F-22 buy plan had been 750 aircraft. The number eventually dwindled to less than 200 — with each reduction resulting in per-unit increase in cost.
By contrast, the first F-16 was delivered to the Air Force in 1979 (after the first test flight in 1974). As noted in a local paper (and repeated at the Stars and Stripes), Lockheed (who bought General Dynamics) is still churning out the F-16 after more than 4,500 have been delivered worldwide.
The accident investigation report by Air Combat Command says the pilot had trouble balancing his Air National Guard and civilian careers and only had about four hours of sleep each night in the 48 hours prior to the August collision. The pilot needed Continue reading →
The report released by Air Combat Command officials at Langley Air Force Base, Va., says 29-year-old Capt. James Michael Steel crashed April 3 about 12 miles outside Bagram Air Field…
The report says Steel flew into a mountainous area obscured by poor weather conditions and that he did not attempt to eject before slamming into the mountain. The report says Steel was flying below the minimum safe altitude at the time of the crash.
Some time ago the Air Force began giving pilot training graduates an assignment to the F-22 directly out of UPT. Previously, pilots had to be trained in another fighter — F-15, F-16 — first, then take the F-22 as a future assignment. The F-22 was always intended to be a traditional “pipeline” fighter, however, so it was only a matter of time before the first F-22 Lt took to the air.
After three years of rigorous U.S. Air Force pilot training, 25-year-old 1st Lt. Andrew Van Timmeren, 7th Fighter Squadron pilot, finally Continue reading →
Two Air National Guard fighter jets collided midair, forcing one of the pilots to eject into the sea and be rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter a few hours later off the Virginia coast, officials said Friday.
The other pilot involved in the collision was able to fly back to Joint Base Andrews, Md. Both jets were from the 113th Wing D.C. Air National Guard and were on a routine training mission
The Coast Guard took the unusual step of posting a video of the at-sea rescue on the internet:
The Air Force will investigate the incident and report on its findings some months from now.
LtGen Craig Franklin is the 3rd Air Force Commander and the convening authority for the court martial of LtCol James Wilkerson, the Aviano F-16 pilot who was convicted of sexual assault at court-martial.
LtGen Franklin vacated the ruling and dismissed the case, a move that has been strongly criticized.
A few have missed the fact that Gen Franklin had to make either an affirmative or negative decision on the recommendation of the court-martial — there was no neutral position. He chose not to approve the ruling, as was his authority, and he explained Continue reading →