MSgt. Josh Gavulic inadvertently pulled his reserve parachute ripcord while donning a rucksack in close proximity to an open ventilation door, according to the findings of an Accident Investigation Board, convened following the fatal Feb. 21, 2014, military training mishap. Gavulic, a 16-year veteran tactical air control party member who was assigned to the 17th Special Tactics Squadron at Fort Benning, Ga., at the time of the accident, was taking part in free-fall proficiency training over Eloy, Ariz. Following Gavulic’s death, AFSOC convened a safety investigation board to determine the cause of the mishap and recommend measures necessary to prevent a recurrence. The SIB determined safety of flight issues, and released its findings for internal USAF use. Maj. Gen. Mark Hicks, AFSOC’s director of operations, chaired the AIB investigation and signed off on its conclusions. The open ventilation door on Gavulic’s aircraft was large enough for a parachute to pass through, but not large enough for the “safe passage of a person.” (Read the full AIB report; Caution, large-sized file.)
NASA, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance are all preparing to launch their next-gen rockets from Florida’s Space Coast, two of them before the year is out. One is expected to liberate the U.S. launch enterprise from its reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines, while all three rockets could eventually carry astronaut crews.