Air Force’s Second Fatal Mishap in 8 Weeks Leaves Pilot Dead

Air Force’s Second Fatal Mishap in 8 Weeks Leaves Pilot Dead

The US Air Force marked its second death this year during mishaps on bases in Texas and Alaska in the last eight weeks.

An Air Force instructor pilot was killed Tuesday in a deadly mishap at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita County, Texas.

Capt. John Roberts died after the ejection seat of a T-6A Texan II airplane activated during ground operations, a Sheppard Air Force Base spokesperson told Newsweek.

Robertson was a member of the 80th Operations Support Squadron.

“This is a devastating loss for Captain Robertson’s family and loved ones, and for the entire 80th Flying Training Wing,” Col. Mitchell J. Cok, the acting wing commander, said in a statement. “Captain Robertson was a highly valued Airman and instructor pilot. Our deepest condolences go with all who knew and loved him.”

Just eight weeks prior, the first Air Force fatality was reported.

An airman was fatally injured on March 15 while performing maintenance on an F-22 fighter jet at the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska, an Air Force spokesperson told Newsweek.

The airman was 25-year-old Staff Sgt. Charles A. Crumlett, Task and Purpose reported. He was weapons lead crew chief with the 90th Fighter Generation Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Sheppard Air Force Base
A pilot was killed in a deadly mishap at Sheppard Air Force Base on Tuesday.

Sheppard Air Force Base

Cok also thanked everyone who tried to help save Robertson’s life.

“We are thankful for the M1 maintenance team who immediately provided live-sustaining care, and for the heroic efforts of the security forces, fire and medical personnel here on base and at United Regional Hospital,” Cok said. “Their efforts allowed time for Captain Robertson’s family to be at his side when he passed.”

The Air Force Safety Investigation Board will investigate the mishap. The board will release its findings when the investigation is complete, a Sheppard Air Force Base spokesperson told Newsweek.

The T-6A Texan II airplane is the main training aircraft for student pilots practicing flying skills. It holds two people.

The Sheppard Air Force Base is in Wichita Falls near the Oklahoma border. The base has the largest training wing in the Air Force.

Deadly Accidents on the Rise

The number of deadly and expensive aviation mishaps among Air Force soldiers reached a five-year high in 2023, Air Force Times reported.

Two people were killed and 10 aircraft were destroyed last year.

Stephanie Rodriguez-Cosme, a 32-year-old test engineer and contractor, was fatally struck by an MQ-9 airplane’s whirring propeller during ground testing. In a separate incident, a civilian employee of the Missile Defense Agency died after experiencing health problems while flying on a C-17 airplane.

Additionally, airmen were often injured in maintenance-related mishaps.

In total, the Air Force reported 75 major non-combat mishaps, up 67 from the previous year.

More than 28% of reported incidents happened while the aircraft was grounded.

Out of the 10 aircraft totaled last year, six were unmanned and four were manned. Three out of the four pilots ejected safely, while the other was hospitalized and released later that day.