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BIRDS TAKE OUT T-38C - Pilot delays ejection to avoid crashing into city

A T-38C Talon crashed two miles south of Sheppard AFB, Texas, after a bird strike shattered its canopy and sent fragments from the canopy into the number two engine, causing catastrophic failure. The loss of the aircraft cost nearly $8 million. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

A T-38C Talon crashed two miles south of Sheppard AFB, Texas, after a bird strike shattered its canopy and sent fragments from the canopy into the number two engine, causing catastrophic failure. The loss of the aircraft cost nearly $8 million. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- A bird strike led to the crash and destruction of a T-38C Talon from Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, July 19,  2013, according to a recently released Air Force accident investigation board report.

The investigation board determined the bird strike shattered the T-38C Talon canopy, which sent fragments through the number two engine causing engine failure. The shattered canopy also significantly increased the aerodynamic drag of the aircraft.

Additionally, investigators said the actions of the instructor pilot following the strike
contributed to the mishap. In an attempt to return to base, the instructor pilot executed a turn that increased drag on the aircraft, robbing it of badly needed airspeed and lift which caused the aircraft to enter into an unrecoverable stall. The pilot delayed ejection as he attempted to avoid flying over the city of Wichita Falls, Texas, and  the aircraft impacted the ground about two miles south of the base.

The instructor pilot and student, assigned to the 80th Flying Training Wing, were executing a planned touch-and-go, simulated single-engine approach training exercise when the aircraft sustained the bird strike.

Both pilots safely ejected from the aircraft, suffering nonlife- threatening injuries. There were no fatalities or significant damage to civilian property. The loss of the aircraft cost nearly $8 million, the report said.