Failure on the part of an Air Force Special Operations Command instructor pilot to ensure “adequate time separation” between the PC-12 light transport aircraft that he was flying and a preceding AC-130 gunship led to the PC-12 flying into wake turbulence upon landing approach at Hurlburt Field, Fla., and crashing during a training sortie July 8, Air Force accident investigators have determined. According to the newly issued findings of the accident investigation board, the wake turbulence led to the pilot losing control of the aircraft. The crash caused “substantial damage” to the PC-12 and minor injuries to the three pilots aboard, including the instructor and two students. There was no evidence of any mechanical failure, the AIB said. AFSOC uses the PC-12 to shuttle special ops forces around within a theater.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.