Disorientation Blamed in Fatal F-15E Crash

Air Combat Command investigators determined that spatial disorientation was the primary cause of the fatal F-15E crash during a training exercise in the Persian Gulf on March 28. On a night landing descent to the crew’s deployed air base, the pilot lost his bearings and initiated a series of erratic maneuvers, inverting the aircraft approximately 1,800 feet above the ground, according to the accident investigation board’s report, issued on Aug. 21. Perceiving the pilot’s disorientation, the weapons system officer seized control of the aircraft, initiating an 11-G leveling maneuver before ejecting both aircrew at 88 feet in altitude, states the report. The pilot died when he struck a 377-foot radio tower during ejection. The WSO survived with only minor injuries. The aircraft clipped a tower and was destroyed on impact with the ground. The aircraft’s loss is estimated at $47.1 million, on top of the damage to the foreign infrastructure. The F-15E was deployed from the 366th Fighter Wing at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. (Langley release) (AIB report; caution, large-sized file.)