Mon, Aug 11, 2008
Air Force officials have completed
their investigation of the May 1 T-38C Talon accident at Sheppard
Air Force Base, Texas, which resulted in the deaths of two pilots
and destroyed the airplane.
Maj. Brad T. Funk, a 90th Flying Training Squadron instructor
pilot, and 2nd Lt. Alec F. Littler, a student pilot assigned to the
80th Operations Support Squadron, were flying a training mission
simulating a single engine landing approach with a full fuel load
with the intent to touch down on the Sheppard AFB runway and then
take off again.
The T-38 landed short of the runway, causing debris from the
overrun surface to enter the right engine and causing it to seize.
Major Funk took command of the aircraft upon the short landing and
advanced the left engine throttle to maximum power, and as the
aircraft was climbing from the ground retracted the landing gear
and the flaps. With the flaps retracted, the T-38 had insufficient
power and airspeed to sustain lift and stalled.
With their T-38 (file photo, below) in a fully developed
stall 25 to 40 feet above the ground, the crew ejected from the
aircraft. Their near simultaneous ejection caused contact between
the two ejection seats and disrupted the direction and sequence of
the ejection. Both were killed on impact with the ground.
The accident investigation board determined the cause of the
mishap was pilot error based on the instructor pilot's failure to
execute critical emergency procedures upon right engine failure.
Specifically, the decision to retract the flaps rather than leaving
them extended resulted in insufficient lift to sustain flight.
There were no other casualties from this mishap and other than
the aircraft, there was no property damage.
Col. Richard Haddad from the 23rd Air Force at Hurlburt Field,
Fla., headed the accident investigation board.
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