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Thu, May 01, 2008

Two Lost In T-38C Downing At SPS

USAF Stands Down Trainers For Investigation

Two pilots were killed Thursday morning when their T-38C Talon training jet crashed at Sheppard Air Force Base, just north of Wichita Falls, TX.

The aircraft, part of the 80th Flying Training Wing at Sheppard, went down at 0745 CDT Thursday morning. The wing is tasked with training NATO pilots. Witnesses told The Associated Press they saw one person eject from the stricken two-place trainer.

NOTAM 8/5809 is effect concerning the crash. The temporary flight restriction is centered on Sheppard AFB, which also shares its runways with Wichita Falls Municipal Airport (SPS). All regional airline operations and general aviation flights at that field were cancelled Thursday, while investigators were on scene.

Thursday's crash was the second fatal accident involving a Talon in eight days. As ANN reported, two pilots died when their USAF T-38C trainer crashed April 23 on the grounds of Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi.

While there's no indication the two accidents were related, the Air Force has grounded all T-38s pending investigations into what caused both planes to go down. "Until we have more complete understanding of the causes of both accidents, it's prudent to stand down the T-38s," said General William R. Looney III, the commander who issued the order. according to CNN.

First flown in 1959, the T-38 Talon is a twin-engine, high-altitude, supersonic jet trainer used in a variety of roles. The upgraded T-38C (type shown above) incorporates a "glass cockpit" with integrated avionics displays, head-up display and an electronic "no drop bomb" scoring system. The instructor and student sit in tandem on rocket-powered ejection seats in a pressurized cockpit.

FMI: www.af.mil, www.nato.mil, www.sheppard.af.mil, www.cwftx.net/index.asp?nid=703

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