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Bird strike brought down T-38 in July, investigation shows

Dec. 10, 2013 - 09:05PM   |  
Pilots practice touch-and-go maneuvers in a T-38 Talon during training Aug. 21 at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. A T-38 was destroyed in July when it crashed while conducting the same maneuvers.
Pilots practice touch-and-go maneuvers in a T-38 Talon during training Aug. 21 at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. A T-38 was destroyed in July when it crashed while conducting the same maneuvers. (Danny Webb/Air Force)
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A bird strike shattered the canopy and caused a T-38C Talon’s engine to fail during a training flight July 19 at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, according to an Air Force investigation.

An instructor pilot and student pilot were flying touch-and-go, simulated single-engine landing training when the incident occurred. During the landing approach, a bird hit the canopy, sending fragments into the No. 2 engine, according to a summary of the Accident Investigation Board report released Tuesday.

The instructor pilot attempted to turn the plane to return to base. That move increased drag that caused the T-38 to enter an unrecoverable stall. The pilot held off ejecting to steer the plane away from property in nearby Wichita Falls, Texas.

The pilot and student ejected and suffered injuries that were not life-threatening. There was no damage to civilian property. The aircraft was destroyed, at a cost of approximately $8 million.

The pilot and student were assigned to the 80th Training Wing at Sheppard.

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