The Air Combat Command has completed their investigation into a deadly crash that took the life of a young fighter pilot earlier this year.
The June 30 incident involved an F-16 from the 77th Fighter Squadron, which was conducting night time training operations at Shaw Air Force Base, SC.
The pilot, 1st Lt. David Schmitz, had been unable to complete aerial refueling and was forced back to base. During approach, he clipped an antenna array, damaging his landing gear.
According to WIS10, the 1st Lieutenant decided to attempt an “approach-end cable arrestment,” but the F-16′s tail hook did not catch the cable, causing the plane’s left wing to hit the ground as the fighter skidded off the runway.
Schmitz ejected, but his parachute failed to deploy and he was killed instantly when his seat impacted with the ground.
“This accident is a tragic reminder of the inherent risks of fighter aviation and our critical oversight responsibilities required for successful execution,” said Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of Air Combat Command.
“The AIB report identified a sequence of key execution anomalies and material failures that resulted in this mishap. For example, in order to account for the increased demands and pilot workload involved with night flying, Air Force Instructions mandate pilots demonstrate proficiency in events like aerial refueling in the daytime before attempting them at night. That didn’t occur for this officer, and when we have oversight breakdowns or failures of critical egress systems, it is imperative that we fully understand what transpired, meticulously evaluate risk, and ensure timely and effective mitigations are in place to reduce or eliminate future mishaps.”
Schmitz was 32 at the time of his death.
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