Air Force investigators release the cause of T-38 jet crash

An image of the rear canopy section of a T-38 trainer jet, recovered at a crash site in November 2022. (Air Force Accident Investigation Board report)

A bird strike has been discovered to be the cause of a T-38 Talon mishap that took place in the skies over Mississippi.

The C model T-38 was piloted by an instructor with the 49th Fighter Training Squadron at Mississippi’s Columbus Air Force Base.

Col. Michael Driscoll, who led the investigation into the accident, said in a July 2023 final report that the crash was unavoidable due to the nature of the bird strike.

“Pieces of the shattered canopy were ingested into both engines,” Driscoll wrote in the report, noting that the bird had initially struck the canopy. “The left engine immediately failed, and shortly after stopped spinning or working altogether.”

The instructor managed to eject, suffering only minor injuries but walking away with his life.

According to the Air Force Times, the report noted that “smaller pieces of the canopy and/or pieces of the bird entered the right engine … which caused the compressor stall.”

The command responsible for the T-38s released a statement, noting that the incident had been investigated and that the 49th Fighter Training Squadron has an excellent safety record.

“Air Education and Training Command officials take every measure to ensure the safety of aircrews, while delivering superior flight training for the Air Force,” the command said in a release. “AETC is committed to using the lessons learned from this investigation to prevent similar mishaps from happening again.”

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