A U.S. Air Force T-38C Talon II trainer aircraft crashed after it departed the runway prior to takeoff from Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas at about 10:30 am on Sept. 11.
Both pilots of the aircraft, assigned to the 80th Flying Training Wing stationed at the base, ejected before the crash.
The pilots were identified as German Air Force pilot Maj. Christian C. Hartmann and U.S. Air Force pilot 1st Lt. Charles T. Walet. Walet is assigned to Vance AFB, Okla., and was on temporary duty to Sheppard. 1st Lt. Walet was transported to United Regional Medical Center in Wichita Falls as a precaution and Maj. Hartmann was transported to the Sheppard Clinic and treated for minor injuries. Both are reported to be in stable condition.
The 80th Flying Training Wing operates the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program, which trains combat pilots for 14 partner nations, which include Germany, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“We are grateful both aircrew members are safe, and for the outstanding response from our fire, security and medical personnel,” said Col. Lendy Renegar, 80th Flying Training Wing vice commander. “We also greatly appreciate the many expressions of support from leaders and members in our local community.”
“We’re relieved both pilots successfully ejected the aircraft and stand ready to assist Sheppard in any way we can,” said Col. Corey Simmons, commander of the 71st Flying Training Wing at Vance AFB.
Emergency crews responded to the scene immediately to provide medical support to the aircrew and also extinguished a small fire in and around the aircraft. An explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team from Fort Sill also responded as a precaution, to ensure all the explosive material associated with the ejection seats was safely expended. The scene was declared safe for recovery operations at about 12:45 p.m.
An investigation is underway and the Air Force said in a statement that it will not speculate on possible causes until the investigation is complete.
Sheppard’s T-38 fleet completed a $185 million upgrade to the new MK US 16T ejection seats in 2013. The “zero/zero” seats allow the aircrew to eject from zero feet altitude at zero velocity.
There have been two T-38 crashes in recent months. On Aug. 17, a Talon II from Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma crashed 70 miles west of Enid, Oklahoma. On May. 23, a USAF Talon jet crashed in a remote area near the Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi. In both the crashes, the pilots ejected safely.
The last fatal crash of a Talon was in November last year in which one of the pilots was killed when the aircraft crashed near the Laughlin Air Force Base.