F-16C Crash Cause Identified

Loss of consciousness by the pilot from high G forces induced during a “planned high-speed turning maneuver” on a training mission caused the crash of an F-16C fighter aircraft 71 miles northwest of Luke AFB, Ariz., on March 14, according to the recently released summary of the investigation into the mishap. The crash killed 2nd Lt. David J. Mitchell, 26, a pilot with the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing in Toledo, who was undergoing initial F-16 qualification training at Luke. The aircraft was a total loss at a cost of $21 million. The investigation also found strong evidence that the pilot’s failure to perform an effective muscle-tightening and breathing procedure to ensure sufficient blood flow to the brain during the maneuver caused the loss of consciousness.