Pilot Error Caused F-16 Midair Collision

Two F-16Cs assigned to the Oklahoma Air National Guard’s 138th Fighter Wing collided midair over Kansas on Oct. 20, 2014, after a student pilot failed to maintain a visual on the instructor pilot and deconflict their flight paths, according to an accident investigation board report, released Feb. 20. The instructor pilot, who had more than 2,400 flight hours in an F-16, was playing the role of the “engaged pilot” during a training mission, while the student pilot, who had 106 F-16 flight hours, was to play the “supporting role.” A third F-16 was to act as the adversary, according to the report. The aircraft conducted the first scenario without incident, but the student pilot lost visual contact of the instructor pilot during the second scenario. Sixteen seconds later their aircraft collided, causing the instructor pilot’s aircraft to lose control. The instructor successfully ejected from the aircraft, sustaining minor injuries, but the aircraft was considered a total loss with some $22.5 million in damage. There was no significant damage to private property, according to the report. The student pilot successfully returned to base despite losing the right wing flaperon and horizontal tail in the collision. The student pilot was not harmed, according to the report.