Two Navy training planes collide midair in south Texas

Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Roland John

Rose L. Thayer

Stars and Stripes

One pilot sustained minor injuries after two Navy training aircraft collided in midair Monday, with one crashing among ranches in south Texas, according to service officials and local law enforcement.

Two T-45 Goshawk aircraft, which are used to train Navy and Marine Corps pilots to fly jets, crashed at about 11 a.m. in Ricardo, a town about nine miles south of Naval Air Station Kingsville, according to Naval Air Training Command. Both aircraft are part of the base’s Training Squadron 22.

One aircraft landed safely at NAS Kingsville. The instructor and student pilot flying in the other aircraft ejected safely, according to officials for the training command, which is headquartered at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi.

One pilot had minor injuries and was taken to CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital in Kleberg, the training command reported. It’s unclear which aircraft that pilot was in. Navy officials also did not provide details about how the planes collided.

“Everything worked out fine and the pilots are safe. That’s more important than everything else,” said Jaime Garza, chief deputy of the Kleberg County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s deputies and units from the Texas Department of Public Safety were sent to help locate the pilots, one of which landed near a road, Garza said. Weekend rains made it difficult to reach the crash site, located in a remote area of King Ranch off U.S. Highway 77.

“The incident is currently under investigation and the Navy is cooperating fully with local authorities,” according to the training command.

William Rogers, an area resident who was working in his garden at the time of the crash, told KRIS 6 News that he saw a plane ascending, then heard the engine “blow out.”

“It traveled about another half-mile south and just got completely silent. The engines cut out and didn’t hear anything else. I then [I] saw the explosion when it hit the ground [and I saw] the mushroom cloud and about 20 minutes later some officers came by here looking for parachuters,” Rogers told the TV station.

Officials have asked if anyone encounters any aircraft debris to leave it alone and report the location to 361-516-6303.

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