AIB: F-15C Pilot Incapacitated Before Crash

An F-15C pilot killed when his aircraft crashed into a Virginia forest on Aug. 27, 2014, was incapacitated minutes before impact, preventing him from recovering from a rapid descent, according to an accident investigation board report, released Monday. Lt. Col. Morris Fontenot, the inspector general for the 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes ANGB, Mass., was ferrying the jet to NAS New Orleans, La., for a radar upgrade. Just over 30 minutes into the flight, the aircraft began descending about 12,000 feet per minute. “At some point during the mishap flight, the [pilot] received an environmental control system warning light indicating higher than normal temperature in the avionics bay,” states the report. Investigators could not determine that was the reason for the aircraft’s decent, but at 8:56 a.m., Fontenot responded to a call from air traffic control declaring an emergency. The center requested his status and seconds later Fontenot responded, “Affirm. Standby” as his aircraft passed 36,000 feet MSL. The aircraft reached supersonic speed before it impacted the ground at 8:58 a.m. It was inverted between 60- to 70-degrees at the time, states the report. Fontenot “did not attempt to eject” even though there was “sufficient altitude to recover [the aircraft] after declaring an emergency,” states the report. The reason he was incapacitated “could not be determined.” The loss of the aircraft was valued at $45.2 million.