NTSB probing cause of Fallon jet crash
March 20, 2012
A preliminary report by the National Safety Transportation Board is examining weather conditions and a dwindling fuel supply as possible factors in the March 6 fatal crash of an Israeli-built F-21Kfir jet at Naval Air Station Fallon.
Retired Navy Capt. Carroll LeFon, 51, of San Diego was employed as a civilian pilot by Airborne Tactical Advantage Company, which also owned the jet. The defense contractor supports the training mission at NAS Fallon by simulating enemy aircraft for Navy pilots during training exercises. Carroll was killed when the jet approached an NAS Fallon runway but veered away and crashed into a concrete building housing small-arms ammunition near the northwest gate.
LeFon was also a widely popular military blogger who went by the name of Neptunus Lex.
The preliminary NTSB report, issued Friday, focused on the conditions at the time of the incident, and a thorough report on the accident’s cause could be released in a year according to the agency’s timetable. Since the jet was a civilian aircraft, the NTSB will conduct the investigation instead of the military.
According to the NTSB, LeFon’s flight had left NAS Fallon at 7:52 a.m., and after an adverse training mission, LeFon attempted to return to the field.
The NTSB reports LeFon tried to make two radar approaches to NAS Fallon, but because of the weather, LeFon attempted to divert to Reno-Tahoe International Airport. Reno-Tahoe reported minimal weather conditions, and as a result, LeFon returned to NAS Fallon and told air traffic controllers he was in a “critical fuel state.”
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The report further stated LeFon descended and maneuvered first toward Runway 31 and then Runway 13 before the accident.
“The airplane struck the ground in an open field in the northwest corner of the airport property and impacted a concrete building on the field,” stated the NTSB report.
LeFon was killed, and the jet incurred significant damage upon impact. Federal firefighters from NAS Fallon responded to the crash scene, while Fallon Churchill firefighters waited on standby.
LeFon, a 1982 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, earned his wings in 1987 and reported to his first fleet squadron, Strike Fighter Squadron 25. Other tours included the Navy Fighter Weapons School, Topgun, where he was an instructor, and he commanded Strike Fighter Squadron 94 from June 2001 to July 2003. LeFon was deployed seven times, serving on the aircraft carriers Constellation, Independence and Carl Vinson.
He is survived by a wife and three children.
Services for LeFon will be at 1 p.m. March 27 at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego. To view the memorial page to Carroll “Lex” LeFon, visit http://www.atacusa.com.