One Pilot Dead, One Injured in T-38C Supersonic Trainer Crash Near Laughlin AFB in Del Rio
DEL RIO, TX — One pilot is dead and another is hospitalized following a T-38C crash near Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio.
According to Laughlin AFB’s public affairs, the surviving pilot is being treated at Val Verde Regional Medical Center in Del Rio.
The T-38C two-seat supersonic training aircraft crashed at approximately 4 p.m. The crash happened 14 miles west and north of the runway, near Spur 454 and U.S. 90. The location of the crash makes it appear the jet was maneuvering for a long final approach to runway 13, the primary runway at the base.
Laughlin AFB is one of four primary pilot training bases for the U.S. Air Force. The T-38C is one of three aircraft stationed at Laughlin AFB. Laughlin's other types of planes are the T-6 Texan and the T-1 Jayhawk.
The single-engine turboprop T-6 is the primary trainer. After graduating from the T-6 course, student pilots are chosen to “track” to flying the heavies like the KC-135, C-17 or C-5, or fighters and bombers. Those students slated to fly heavies take their advanced pilot training in the T-1, a Beechcraft aircraft similar in appearance to a corporate jet. Students who will be flying fighters or bombers will go to the advanced flying course in the supersonic T-38C.
The instructor pilot flies in the rear cockpit of the tandem-seat T-38C. The student flies in the front cockpit. Both cockpits are equipped with ejection seats.
Laughlin AFB’s public affairs stated that base and local firefighters are at the scene of the crash. A board of officers is being convened to conduct an accident investigation.
The names of the pilots are withheld pending notification of next-of-kin.
The T-38C at Laughlin AFB is assigned to the 87th Flying Training Squadron nicknamed the “Red Bulls.” Personnel in the 87th FTS are augmented by Air Force Reserve instructor pilots in the 96th Flying Training Squadron.