Rudder Failure Doomed T-38

Air Force Materiel Command investigators have determined that “a failure in the rudder operating mechanism” of a T-38 aircraft during a training flight on May 21 caused the aircraft to crash near Edwards AFB, Calif., claiming one pilot’s life. Maj. Gen. Curtis Bedke, Air Force Research Lab boss who presided over the accident investigation board, said there is clear and convincing evidence that the rudder failure led to “an uncontrollable yaw and a resulting roll” that caused the aircraft to depart controlled flight, an “unrecoverable” condition in the T-38. Maintenance issues, more specifically “insufficient supervisory oversight and a lack of discipline of the [maintenance] training process” likely contributed to the rudder failure, the AIB found. Maj. Mark Paul Graziano, a student pilot, perished in the mishap, while his student navigator, Maj. Lee Vincent Jones, sustained serious injuries. (AFMC release) (AIB report)