It was just over 5 years ago that a student and instructor pilot’s T-38 crashed south of Sheppard Air Force Base by Pecanway Drive and Horton Lane.
An investigation team later determined a bird strike shattered the T-38C Talon canopy just before 7 a.m. on July 19, 2013, sending fragments through the number two engine. The team said the shattered canopy increased drag on the plane.
Then, the pilot made a turn that further increased drag, forcing it to lose airspeed and lift, stalling the engine, but ultimately he was able to get the plane outside of any populated areas.
The instructor and student pilot, both assigned to the 80th flying training wing, were doing touch-and-go drills when the bird struck the jet.
Safety officials at Sheppard say around the time of the crash the amount of cattle egret’s on the airfield were on the rise.
The plane would later amount to 8-million dollars in damages, and neither the student nor instructor pilot suffered life threatening injuries.
Since the first recorded crash in 1967, a total of at least 17- deaths involving Sheppard planes have occurred, some of those near a runway on base.
In October, 1974, a pilot was killed when a T-37 crashed near a Sheppard runway.
On June 24, 1991, two pilots died when a T-38 crashed 300- yards north of the tower at Sheppard.
In May, 2008, a T-38C crashed short of the runway.
The instructor pilot and student both died when they ejected at low altitude.
The investigation showed the plane landed short of the runway, causing debris to enter an engine and causing it to seize up.
The plane then stalled about 30 feet above the ground after the instructor took control, both pilots ejected simultaneously and the ejection seats collided.
Officials say both pilots died on contact when the seats hit the ground.
In January 2005, a T-37 collided with a crop dusting plane over Tillman County when pilots in both planes failed to notice the other in time.
Both Sheppard pilots ejected safely, but the pilot of the crop duster was killed.
Two T-38s collided over Foard County in August 2001. One pilot was killed, and the others ejected safely. This crash was blamed on pilot error.
On May 31, 1995 a T-38 crashed into the Amber Falls Apartments in Wichita Falls. Both pilots ejected safely here, but two people were killed outside the complex. This crash was blamed on mechanical failure.
On Sept. 3, 1992 a T-38 crashed about 50 miles southwest of Sheppard Air Force Base.
In 1985, two pilots died in a crash just outside of the base.
One pilot was killed in August 1978, when a T-38 crashed north of Woodson.
Just five months before the crash in Woodson, a T-38 crash on Tinker Air Force Base killed one from Sheppard.
Several other crashes have happened in recent memory that were not fatal. Two involved T-38s in 2000 and 2003 and two T-37’s were involved in a crash in December 2002.
While the US Air Force puts extreme emphasis on safety, Tuesday’s crash is further proof accidents are going to happen.