Pilot Error Caused T-38C Mishap

Air Education and Training Command officials have determined that pilot error led to a T-38C trainer aircraft making a hard landing on the night of February 11 at Ellington Field, Tex., near Houston, causing $2.1 million in damage to the aircraft and slightly damaging the runway. The pilot, assigned to the 14th Flying Training Wing at Columbus AFB, Miss., mistook the landing runway, lost altitude too quickly, and allowed his airspeed to fall below a safe level, according to the findings of AETC’s accident investigation board. He safely departed the aircraft, but sustained minor injuries in the landing, which resulted in catastrophic damage to the T-38’s landing gear and right wing. The investigators also cited pilot fatigue, inappropriate supervisory policy, and inadequate operational risk management as contributing factors. The pilot was on a solo continuations-training sortie into Ellington Field as part of a cross-country mission. (Randolph release)