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Air Force completes F-16 accident investigation

2/13/2007 - RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNEWS) -- Air Force officials completed an investigation of the F-16 Fighting Falcon accident at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Oct. 26, 2006, which resulted in the loss of the 56th Fighter Wing aircraft.

The accident investigation board determined a third stage fan disk malfunction caused the mishap. The fan disk created a fracture in the airframe and penetrated the fuel tank, which in turn ignited the fire causing the engine to explode.

The aircraft, flown by 62nd Fighter Squadron instructor pilot Lt. Col. Drexel Sherman, experienced the mishap during takeoff as the lead F-16 of a two-aircraft afterburner formation takeoff and basic fighter maneuver sortie. Capt. Eduardo Cuadra was the other pilot acting as the wingman for the sortie.

After being cleared for takeoff, Colonel Sherman taxied to the left side of the runway accompanied by Captain Cuadra on the right side. Upon ignition of the afterburner, Colonel Sherman heard an explosion and noticed that a fire had started on his aircraft. His wingman transmitted "Fire" on the radio and Colonel Sherman applied full brakes and initiated the appropriate critical action procedures to abort the takeoff due to fire and preparing to get out of the stopped, but burning aircraft. He was able to open the canopy and safely exit the F-16. Members of the Luke AFB fire department extinguished the aircraft fire.

The $22 million aircraft was declared a total loss, and there were no injuries or other property damage as a result of the mishap.

Col. Kevin Kriner, from the 71st Flying Training Wing at Vance Air Force Base, Okla., was the accident investigation board president.

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