Pilots Blamed For Tulsa F-16 Crash In Kansas

Friday, February 20th 2015, 3:19 pm
By: Richard Clark

The U.S. Air Force blames the pilots for the collision of two F-16 jets that resulted in a crash in southeast Kansas last fall.

Two F-16s from the 138th Fighter Wing in Tulsa collided near Moline, Kansas on October 20, 2014. One of the single-seat jet fighters managed to land safely in Tulsa in spite of its damage.

The other F-16 crashed after the pilot ejected. He suffered minor injuries.

10/20/2014: Related Story: F-16s Collide Over Kansas; One Crashes, One Returns To Tulsa

According to a summary of the report posted on the USAF's Air Combat Command web site, the cause of the collision was "a pilot's failure to maintain visual contact with another aircraft and deconflict their flight paths."

The summary says the pilots were assigned to the wing's 125th Fighter Squadron. The pilots were participating in a combat maneuvers training mission when the collision occurred.

10/21/2014: Related Story: Military Investigating Crash Site Of Tulsa-Based F-16 Jet

The formation's wingman failed to inform the flight lead of an inability to maintain visual contact with the lead aircraft. At the same time, the flight lead failed to assume visual and flight path "deconfliction" responsibilities for the formation while the wingman set up for complicated training maneuvers, according to the summary.

The flight lead also misinterpreted the wingman's direction of turn and failed to recognize they were on a collision course. These errors, the summary says, contributed to the pilots' inability to realize the danger in time to avoid a collision.

The flight lead was the pilot who ejected. The wingman returned safely to base despite five feet of the right wing tip being severed from the aircraft, according to the summary.

The two F-16C aircraft were part of a flight of four jets from Tulsa using airspace over southeast Kansas which is reserved for military aircraft to practice combat maneuvers.

The summary says the total loss to government property was $22.5 million.