Unintentional Stall Caused Fatal 2016 U-2 Crash

The fatal 2016 U-2 crash in California was caused by the aircraft entering an unintentional secondary stall, forcing the two pilots to eject. Instructor pilot Lt. Col. Ira S. Eadie was killed during the ejection sequence, and the second pilot received minor injuries in the Sept. 20, 2016, mishap near Sutter, Calif. The TU-2S, assigned to the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale AFB, Calif., was flying an “acceptance flight” training mission, according to an Air Combat Command release. Selected pilots undergo three of these flights as part of their interview process, which are designated to give the prospective pilots a chance to familiarize themselves with the aircraft. The aircraft was conducting an “approach to stall” maneuver, when the unnamed interviewing pilot’s flight control inputs placed the aircraft into an unintentional secondary stall. The aircraft’s left wing dropped sharply and the U-2 fell into an excessive nose-low attitude. The aircraft was not controlled and was rapidly becoming inverted, prompting the Eadie to command ejection. During this sequence, his ejection seat struck the U-2’s right wing, which resulted in fatal injuries. The aircraft crashed into uninhabited hills and was destroyed, at a loss of $32 million.