Sunday 24 September 2017

Student pilot lands F-16 despite losing half a wing in mid-air collision

F-16C lands safely

A US Air Force F-16C, flown by its pilot for 100 miles after losing part of its wing in October, 2014. Photo: US Air Force
A US Air Force F-16C, flown by its pilot for 100 miles after losing part of its wing in October, 2014. Photo: US Air Force
A US Air Force F-16C, flown by its pilot for 100 miles after losing part of its wing in October, 2014. Photo: US Air Force
A US Air Force F-16C, crash landed after a mid-air collision between pilots on a training exercise in October, 2014. Its pilot ejected to safety before the crash. Photo: US Air Force

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A US Air Force student flew 100 miles and landed his F-16C fighter after half a wing was chopped off in a mid-air collision.

The collision occurred when the student and his instructor were simulating combat manoeuvres over Kansas last October, according to a US Air Force accident report released last Friday.

It resulted in the student's plane having a five-foot section of its right wing shorn off, and the instructor ditching his F-16 into a field outside Moline (he ejected to safety, with minor injuries).

After the incident, the surviving plane was flown 100 miles south to Tulsa Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma, where it landed safely despite the extraordinary damage.

US AIr Force F-16C2.png
A US Air Force F-16C, crash landed after a mid-air collision between pilots on a training exercise in October, 2014. Its pilot ejected to safety before the crash. Photo: US Air Force

The instructor's F-16. Its pilot ejected to safety.

The planes, both assigned to the125th Fighter Squadron,138th Fighter Wing at the Tulsa base, collided during "an air combat maneuvers training mission", the report states.

During the collision, the right wingtip missile and wing of one F-16 "sliced through" the right wing root of the other, destroying its flaperon, severing the fuel manifold, and shattering "the entire right horizontal tail," the report states.

The instructor had over 2,400 hours of flight time in the F-16.

The student had just 106 hours.

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A US Air Force F-16C, flown by its pilot for 100 miles after losing part of its wing in October, 2014. Photo: US Air Force

The student pilot's F-16, back at base in Tulsa.

Following its investigation, the US Air Force's Accident Investigation Board found the accident to be the fault of the student pilot's "failure to fulfill his primary responsibilities of maintaining visual and flight path de-confliction" with the instructor.

He escaped unharmed after flying the damaged craft home.

"The total loss to government property was $22,490,842," it said.

Read the full accident report here.

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