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Columbus T-38C accident investigation complete

6/14/2011 - RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- The investigation of the Feb. 11, 2011, T-38C Talon mishap at Ellington Field, Texas, found the mishap was due to the pilot mistaking the landing runway, losing altitude too quickly and allowing his airspeed to fall below a safe level. This resulted in catastrophic damage to the T-38's landing gear and right wing.

The mishap occurred during the fourth sortie of the day as a night solo continuations-training sortie into Ellington Field, near Houston, on a squadron cross-country mission. The pilot, Capt. David M. Cook, 14th Flying Training Wing, Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., safely departed the aircraft when it came to rest on the ground and sustained minor injuries as a result of the mishap.

The AIB report further cited inadequate operational risk management of the cross-country weekend plan and a culture of risk tolerance in the squadron.

The report said, "Inappropriate supervisory policy, combined with inadequate ORM led to the mishap pilot flying a high-risk mission profile."

The board further found that the pilot's fatigue substantially contributed to the mishap.

Damage to the T-38 was assessed at $2.1 million. The impact also caused minor damage to the runway, but no damage to private property.

The president of the AIB was Col. Kurt W. Meidel, 71st FTW, Vance AFB, Okla.

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