The U.S. Air Force Just Had an Awful Week

From Popular Mechanics

A string of aircraft accidents added up to a bad week for the U.S. Air Force. Two F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters, one belonging to the prestigious Thunderbirds aerobatic team, and a giant unmanned surveillance drone were destroyed in accidents. In addition to the crashes, several intelligence-gathering aircraft and two planes meant to fight a nuclear war were damaged by a tornado. No pilots or other aircrew were lost in the incidents nor did any sustain serious injuries.

The first accident occurred on June 21st. An Oklahoma Air National Guard F-16C Block 42 fighter caught fire and crashed while taking off from Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston, Texas. The pilot ejected and was taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation. The F-16 was conducting a training mission for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). The cause of the accident is under investigation.

The second F-16-related accident took place on June 23rd, when a F-16D Block 52 flipped upside down shortly after landing at Dayton International Airport, Ohio. The F-16 had been landing in the middle of a squall-a sudden, violent wind. The two-seat F-16 was aircraft number eight of the Air Force’s Thunderbirds aerobatic demonstration team. The aircraft was conducting a familiarization flight for the Dayton Air Show. Both the pilot and a technical sergeant onboard were taken to a local hospital where they were found to be in good condition.

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathan Lipscomb.

The third aircraft loss was also on June 21st, when an RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned surveillance drone crashed in California’s eastern Sierra Nevada mountains. Part of the Air Force’s 9th Reconnaissance Wing, the drone was flying from Edwards Air Force Base home to Beale Air Force Base while being controlled by a crew on the ground in Palmdale. The aircraft, which had been visiting Edwards for repairs, went down near Mount Whitney. The Air Force now has 32 Global Hawk…

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