One pilot still missing after fighter-jet collision
HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — The Air Force resumed a search Saturday for one of the fighter pilots whose F-16 jets collided in Utah’s west desert during a routine training mission.
The second pilot, Capt. David Roszmann, ejected from his cockpit Friday afternoon and landed safely, the Air Force said. A Chinook helicopter took Roszmann to a medical clinic at the air base, where he was treated for minor injuries and released Friday evening.
Search teams found the wreckage of both planes, about two miles apart, but couldn’t find the second pilot, whose jet was badly damaged and burning, with debris spread over a wide area, Sgt. Sonja Whittington said.
No radio contract has been established with that pilot, whose name wasn’t released.
“Our focus is still on finding our missing pilot, and my thoughts and prayers are with the pilot’s family,” said Col. Steve Hoog, commander of the 388th Fighter Wing. “We are hoping for the best outcome to this unfortunate accident.”
Hoog planned his next search update for 4 p.m. Saturday.
The fighter jets collided in midair at about 2:53 p.m. Friday over the vast, barren Utah Test and Training Range, about 150 miles west of Salt Lake City. They were part of a four-jet formation flying over 2,624 square miles of military airspace.
Neither of the jets was carrying weapons, the Air Force said.
Hoog said a search team and investigative board was at the crash scene Friday evening, but rain and nightfall suspended an aerial search until daybreak Saturday.
F-16 mishaps have been rare in Utah since 1998, when one F-16 pilot was killed and others were injured in five accidents involving six planes. In one of those accidents, a pair of F-16s collided over western Utah, leaving each pilots with minor injuries. The spate of 1998 accidents prompted the reassignment of then then-wing commander.
Most recently, an F-16 crashed after an aborted takeoff Oct. 17, 2001 at Hill Air Force Base. That pilot suffered only scrapes and bruises.
The 388th Fighter Wing is the largest unit at Hill Air Force Base. The wing deploys and supports F-16s worldwide. It was the first to fly the F-16 when the Air Force introduced the aircraft in 1979.
Built by Lockheed Martin Corp., the F-16 is designed for air-to-air or air-to-surface combat. The two models used today are the F-16C, a one-seat model, and the F-16D, a two-seater.
They can reach speeds of 1,500 mph and fly at altitudes higher than 50,000 feet. They can be equipped with as many as six air-to-air missiles or air-to-surface munitions.
The newest models cost $18.8 million in 1998.
On the Net: http://www.hill.af.mil/