CAFB training crash ruled pilot error

January 12, 2010 9:48:00 AM



A July crash of a Columbus Air Force Base training aircraft near Mantee, which left the pilot with minor injuries, has been ruled pilot error, the Air Force said today. 


An Air Force accident investigation board had been investigating the accident since the July 9 crash, which caused minor property damage on the ground and resulted in the total loss of the aircraft, a propeller-driven T-6A Texan II. The aircraft is valued at $4.27 million. 


The Air Force identified the pilot as 2nd Lt. Falah Al-Obaidi, an international student in the base''s Aviation Leadership program. His nationality was not released, but Sonic Johnson, director of public affairs at the base, previously said the pilot was not from Iraq or Afghanistan.  


The base frequently hosts pilots from other countries. In June, a military officer from Afghanistan completed pilot training at the base, as part of a program to help the country improve its air capabilities. A Saudi Arabian pilot, who is a member of that country''s royal family, graduated with a March training class. 


According to the Air Force report, Al-Obaidi was flying a solo mission to practice aerobatics.  


"About 45 minutes into the flight, the student pilot began a series of aerobatic maneuvers, beginning with three leaves of a clover-leaf pattern and ending with two consecutive loops," an Air Force release said. 


"According to the investigation report the maneuvers were characterized by incorrect airspeed throughout," the report said. "On his final loop, Lieutenant Al-Obaidi released back pressure on the control stick, stabilizing the T-6A at 90 degrees nose up. As the aircraft lost airspeed it transitioned into a steep right bank dive. 


"When the pilot attempted to recover to level flight the steep nose down attitude and rapidly decreasing altitude caused him to think he''d entered a spin or spiral. Once his altitude was below 6,000 feet, the pilot elected to eject." 


The plane crashed in the front yard of a house on Mantee Road. No one on the ground was injured. The pilot landed about half a mile from the plane crash site, officials said at the time of the accident.  


The pilot was treated and released from Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle. 


Prior to the July crash, the most recent accident involving aircraft from Columbus Air Force Base was in April 2008, when student pilot 2nd Lt. Matthew Emmons and instructor pilot Maj. David Faulkner crashed a T-38C Talon trainer on the CAFB runway. Both men died in the incident. 


Two CAFB T-6As collided near Shuqualak during training in November 2007, and the cause was determined to be pilot error. All four pilots in the planes -- student pilot 2nd Lt. Christopher Poponi and instructor pilot Maj. Joseph Brewster and Indian Air Force Lt. Junior Grade Deepak Gill and U.S. Air Force instructor pilot Capt. Douglas Snead -- ejected safely, and there were no fatalities.  


A January 2007 crash of a CAFB T-38 Talon near Batesville was caused by a flock of mallard ducks. An investigation board determined the ducks shattered the cockpit canopy, and debris from the canopy entered the aircraft''s two engines, which resulted in total engine failure.  


Both pilots, 2nd Lt. Todd A. Campbell and Maj. Bill C. Lester ejected from the plane and were uninjured in the crash.  


While in final contact phase of a training mission, a T-37 trainer crashed about 28 miles west of the air base Sept. 5, 2001. The pilot ejected safely, and there were no fatalities.  


And during a post-maintenance functional check flight, an AT-38 trainer crashed near Becker. The pilot ejected safely, and there were no fatalities. According to Air Education and Training Command officials, material failure caused the crash.