Air Force officials release report on Sheppard T-38 accident

  • Published
Air Force officials here completed their investigation of the May 1 T-38C Talon accident at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, which resulted in the deaths of two pilots and destroyed the airplane.

Maj. Brad T. Funk, a 90th Flying Training Squadron instructor pilot, and 2nd Lt. Alec F. Littler, a student pilot assigned to the 80th Operations Support Squadron, were flying a training mission simulating a single engine landing approach with a full fuel load with the intent to touch down on the Sheppard AFB runway and then take off again.

The T-38 landed short of the runway, causing debris from the overrun surface to enter the right engine and causing it to seize. Major Funk took command of the aircraft upon the short landing and advanced the left engine throttle to maximum power, and as the aircraft was climbing from the ground retracted the landing gear and the flaps. With the flaps retracted, the T-38 had insufficient power and airspeed to sustain lift and stalled.

With their T-38 in a fully developed stall 25 to 40 feet above the ground, the crew ejected from the aircraft. Their near simultaneous ejection caused contact between the two ejection seats and disrupted the direction and sequence of the ejection. Both were killed on impact with the ground.

The accident investigation board determined the cause of the mishap was pilot error based on the instructor pilot's failure to execute critical emergency procedures upon right engine failure. Specifically, the decision to retract the flaps rather than leaving them extended resulted in insufficient lift to sustain flight.

There were no other casualties from this mishap and other than the aircraft, there was no property damage.

Col. Richard Haddad from the 23rd Air Force at Hurlburt Field, Fla., headed the accident investigation board.

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