T-38s continuing operations at Vance AFB after Friday's crash

By JAMES NEAL | Enid News & Eagle, Okla. | Published: August 20, 2018

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. — T-38 Talon training aircraft personnel are conducting normal operations Monday, after one of the 71st Flying Training Wing's T-38s crashed in Woodward County Friday.

The pilot of the T-38C jet ejected before the plane crashed at 1:48 p.m. Friday near the town of Mutual in southern Woodward County. The instructor pilot was the only person on board and was performing a training mission before ejecting, according to a Vance press release. He was not seriously injured and was evaluated by Air Force medical personnel.

Terri Schaefer, Vance public affairs chief, said T-38s of the 25th Flying Training Squadron, Vance's sole T-38 squadron, continued operations Monday morning after a squadron meeting with commander Lt. Col. Eric Schmidt. Schaefer said the meeting served to review procedures and the Friday mishap, but currently there are no broader concerns for the T-38s at Vance that would require a safety stand-down of the aircraft.

A safety investigation into the Friday crash is underway by Vance and Air Force personnel, Schaefer said.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol personnel told the Woodward News Friday the pilot of the T-38 that crashed reported experiencing sudden engine trouble. He was unable to restart the plane's engines and had to eject around 2,000 feet.

Vance emergency response personnel were on site by 4 p.m. to initial an accident investigation. OHP brought in a helicopter to help search for the parachute and ejection seat.

The plane crashed about 70 miles west of Vance in the Mutual-Chester area. The aircraft was a total loss. The wreckage and the pasture where it landed burned, and firefighters from Woodward, Sharon, Mutual and Mooreland responded.

Until Friday, Vance hadn't suffered a Class A mishap since Sept. 8, 2000, an Air Education and Training Command record. A Class A mishap involves loss of life or loss of an aircraft.

The T-38 Talon is a "twin-engine, high-altitude, supersonic jet trainer used in a variety of roles because of its design, economy of operations, ease of maintenance, high performance and exceptional safety record," according to an Air Force fact sheet.

The Talon is used by Air Education and Training Command for specialized undergraduate pilot and pilot instructor training, according to the Air Force. Student pilots at Vance have flown T-38s since December 1963. Students in the fighter/bomber track fly the Talon.

The Air Force is in the process of choosing a replacement for the T-38, although no contract has yet been awarded.

©2018 the Enid News & Eagle (Enid, Okla.)
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